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Center receives $250K grant to help refugees, immigrants on path to citizenship

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9 2013 7:05 p.m. MDT

"They pay $50 to take the training, so they're really invested," Barnhart said.

Some 1,200 refugees are resettled in Utah every year, so there is an ongoing need for new volunteers to teach English. Volunteers undergo 12 hours of training and then are paired with a staff member who mentors them. Volunteer training is offered every month except December and July.

Tippets said she took the training to teach English a couple of years after being encouraged by a friend to try it.

"I've had students from all countries and all walks of life. They're all very grateful for the help," she said.

Barnhart said many volunteers become very attached to their students, and they relish their success when they obtain their citizenship. Tippets attended the ceremony when six of her students were granted their citizenship.

"We are providing a service. We teach people English. But we are also creating an opportunity for our volunteers to have an incredibly engaging experience," Barnhart said.

"It's just a wonderful mutual learning experience. Our volunteers tell us repeatedly how much this experience changes their lives," she said.

The Gurungs say obtaining their citizenship will have lifelong benefits for them and their children.

Asked if she was nervous about the upcoming exam, Pratima Gurung said, "Yeah, a little."

But she said she and her husband are willing to commit to intensive study to become U.S. citizens.

"Anything we need to do to do it, we will do it," she said.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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