New U.S. Citizen Li left her home country of China in search of “freedom, happiness, and better education” here in the United States. Li found the cultural transition between China and the United States to be “a hard adjustment.” The languages are vastly different, she noted, and the cultures are “almost opposites” of one another. Despite these challenges, Li has made an effort to immerse herself in San Diego culture and in larger American society. She says, “I think you must encourage yourself to learn the culture and language so that you can fit in and participate in life here.” At the same time, Li continues to honor her heritage and her many family members who still live in China.
Since filing for citizenship, Li has been a devoted student at Pathways’ weekly Civics and ESL classes. Finding a supportive, comfortable learning environment was high on her priority list. Li notes that “Pathways has the passion. The people here make me feel very safe.” She credits her teachers and volunteer coordinator Alyssa for making her learning experience special. “I’m very impressed (with them). They contribute a lot of their time. I am so appreciative and thankful.”
International Women's Day 2023 was a momentous one for Li, as she celebrated her new citizenship! Li says, “I can’t believe it! It is a totally new life. I have more confidence. While driving here I said to myself, ‘I am an American!’ I will do my best for this country, my country.”
What’s next for Li? As a new U.S. citizen, she is excited to volunteer with the San Diego Police Department, vote in upcoming elections, and travel with fewer restrictions. Li is happy “to have the freedom to live a full life.”