U.S. Citizenship Participant

Jidapa pointing on map to tutor and smiling
Jidapa and her tutor Mary working together
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U.S. Citizenship Participant

Jidapa has been a student at Mercy Connections since 2022, enrolled in the U.S. Citizenship Preparation Tutoring program. After a year and a half of studying, she took and passed the U.S. Citizenship Test in 2024.

Growing up in Thailand, Jidapa has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a young adult, she started her own Thai food restaurant in a hospital in Phuket. She did not even know how to professionally cook Thai food when she started the business. So, she took it upon herself to learn by watching the chefs she hired. Soon, she knew how to cook it all herself.

Jidapa also taught herself to read in English. By the time she was 11, she had read so many books that she figured out how to read the English language. She couldn’t speak the language yet, but it was the skill of reading English that helped to bring her to the United States.

It was that same independent spirit that she tapped into when she passed the U.S. Citizenship test on January 4, 2024, and her life changed.

“I was very nervous and excited!” Jidapa said.

After exchanging letters in English for two years, Jidapa’s road to Citizenship began in 2017, when she moved to Vermont and married her husband.

A friend of hers from Thailand also lived in Vermont, and she took Jidapa under her wing. She taught her how to navigate the community and brought her to work and taught her how to drive. Soon, she introduced Jidapa to the Mercy Connections U.S. Citizenship Preparation program and was matched with her tutor, Mary.

“Jidapa was so motivated and worked so hard to master the skills,” Mary said. “That was reinforcing for both of us.”

Jidapa met with Mary for over a year and found innovative ways to study for the Citizenship exam, such as utilizing materials in both Thai and English to ensure that she understood the content clearly. Every morning, she woke up and listened to videos in English on YouTube.

“At first, it was hard for me to pronounce the words in English and write. But, I love to learn. I gave myself homework, and my tutor did, too,” Jidapa said.

So, when the day came to take the U.S. Citizenship exam, Jidapa felt nervous and excited. She was prepared and worked hard for this day.

And she passed the test.

“It changed my life for good!” Jidapa said.

Jidapa now works as a chef in Vermont and continues to cook Thai food. The staff at Mercy Connections are often spoiled by her cooking skills, as she can be found dropping by on occasion with Thai treats to share with everyone. She says sharing food is her way of showing love and appreciation to everyone around her.

“Thank you to my tutor and to Mercy Connections for helping to give me the opportunity to learn so much, and for giving me skills.”

"At first, it was hard for me to pronounce the words in English and write. But, I love to learn. I gave myself homework, and my tutor did, too!" 

- Jidapa

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