Having a relaxed, proud feeling and ready to vote are new treasures gained for Perla Galaz, a native of Mexico. Becoming a new citizen of the United States has given her much satisfaction and future promises.
“I am so happy and excited to be a new American,” said Galaz. “I have lived in the United States since 2007 when my husband Julio and I moved to Altus with our first son.”
Her husband and Perla both had completed college degrees in Mexico, but could not find jobs. They chose to move from Mexico straight to Altus where he had an aunt living, and Julio was able to get a job with Bar-S Foods.
That same year Perla contacted the Great Plains Literacy Council at the Altus Public Library to learn English. She said she knew very little English and needed to communicate with her health providers as she was pregnant. Lynne Collingwood volunteered to be her tutor and met with her once a week for about three years. Other jobs and family obligations kept her busy for several years after that tutoring.
Then in August 2015, Perla returned to the literacy council to ask for tutoring in obtaining her citizenship. Again Collingwood stepped up to assist her as a tutor.
“I considered the citizenship tutoring as a learning of the US history together,” said Collingwood. “It was a good review for me, but the tutoring sessions were fun with her.”
In the fall of 2015, Perla traveled to the Naturalization Service in Oklahoma City to begin the background check process. Finally, she was notified to take the written and oral exam on Jan. 6. She passed the written U.S. history and government test and an interview session to determine if she could speak English.
“Just having a tutor made it much easier for me,” Perla exclaimed. “When I first looked at the study material, I was so frustrated, but Lynne motivated me in learning the information a little at a time.”
Perla’s husband and two sons Andrew and Guillermo were able to attend her citizenship ceremony where Perla was among the 99 immigrants who took the oath of citizenship the last of February. The Great Plains Literacy Council is proud of her progress and her desire to continue learning more in the English language.
To find out more about literacy services from the Great Plains Literacy Council, contact the Altus Public Library, 421 N. Hudson, or call 477-2890.
Ida Fay Winters is the GPLC Coordinator