Citizenship resources in Beaufort

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This story was part off a package advancing the Celebrate Citizenship event held Saturday, Ooct. 26 at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. It did not run in the Oct. 24 edition of The Island News because of space restrictions.

By Davis Folsom

Recently, I sat in a restaurant with three Naval officers at the next table.

They might have been comparing Top Gun strategies or counter-intelligence briefings. Whatever, it was a language foreign to me; full of acronyms and in-group words that only they understood.

Because they were in uniform, I guessed they were talking about military and our government. Similarly, readers of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service web site (, the primary resource for anyone wanting to know about the citizenship process, will most likely need an interpreter.

One of the links at provides a guide to local resources. Searching by zip code produced no results in the entire state of
South Carolina.

Fortunately, there are a number of wonderful local people, organizations, and resource centers available. 

Eligibility and application resources

The St. Helena Library has a large array of citizenship preparation/study materials available. Their head librarian, Maria Benac, was very helpful and eager to share the resources with us.

First and foremost are the four Civics and Citizenship Toolkits: A Collection of Educational Resources for Immigrants.

In each toolkit you find (1) a box of flash cards – “Becoming a U.S. Citizen” – with the 100 questions (and answers) that are included on the citizenship test and/or interview (not too many American citizens would score high on this test, I fear.)

Also, the toolkit includes: (2) The USCIS Naturalization Interview and Test booklet (also DVD/CD); (3) The Citizens Almanac – Fundamental documents, symbols and anthems of the U.S.; (4) Welcome to the U.S. – A Guide for New Immigrants (in Spanish and English, 107 pages); (5) Learn About the U.S.: Quick Civics Lessons for the Naturalization Test; (6) The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

South of the Broad River, these resources are also available at the Bluffton Public Library.

The toolkits are produced/provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and are available free upon request for eligible organizations which include:

Community-based organizations or nongovernmental organizations that work with immigrants;

K-12 schools, adult education centers, community colleges, universities, and other educational institutions;

Ethnic or home country organizations;

Libraries: K-12, public, academic, etc.;

Faith-based organizations;

Volunteer groups;

Civic and service clubs;

Other organizations that provide educational resources to immigrants

For more:

English, civics and other resources

North of the Broad River, at least three organizations offer ESL (English as a Second Language) and/or civics exam assistance, or other support services:

Beaufort County Adult Education, directed by Marie Lewis, has a well-established and friendly ESL program. They also provide civics exam tutors. Call 843-322-2739.

Franciscan Center on St. Helena Island offers ESL resources and other support services. Call 843-838-3924.

YMCA offers a variety of services including summer migrant education programs.

Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry offers ESL and Citizenship Classes south of the Broad River. Call 843-815-6616.

There may be other groups assisting people seeking English language and citizenship support in Northern Beaufort. If so, Celebrating Citizenship would appreciate knowing about their efforts.

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