As a first generation Korean-American, I have witnessed firsthand the difficulty of adjusting to a new culture. Learning the history and traditions of that culture can seem impossible with all the little quirks and nuances. Peter, a Mid-State student, recently took on the challenge of studying American history and the English language to pass his American citizenship test.

Originally from Taiwan, Peter began learning English in high school and came to the United States for his master’s degree at Penn State. Although he enjoyed research when he was younger, he found that using his skills to teach the next generation was more fulfilling, and took on a career path as a chemistry professor in Taiwan. Following his retirement as a professor, he returned to the U.S. in 2009, but discovered that he was no longer as proficient in English as he once was.

With his two grown daughters and granddaughter living in the U.S., he decided to take on the citizenship exam to allow him to stay in America as a citizen and also participate in elections. Peter came to Mid-State with these goals in mind and enrolled in an online citizenship class over the summer to help with the challenge of learning American history and English. He hoped to also improve his fluency and recognize idioms more easily, which he found especially difficult. Although the pandemic disrupted in-person learning, Peter says that the online classes were convenient and helped him to pass his citizenship class and adjust to society.

After passing the citizenship exam, Peter now enjoys living in the U.S. as a citizen and finds life in the countryside to be peaceful. He is very appreciative of all of the teachers and staff at Mid-State who taught him about U.S. culture and other life skills that helped him accomplish his goals. With Mid-State’s guidance and his dedication to learn, Peter successfully overcame the overwhelming challenges of moving to a different country.

By Sara Yi

Mid-State Literacy Council depends on the support of our community.