It sounds like a strange word. It refers to the process of a non-citizen becoming a citizen. In the US, an applicant needs to take a naturalization test. Here in Canada, we refer to it as a citizenship test. I was reading today about some sample questions in the US test, which requires written answers rather than multiple choice responses.
It got me thinking about what’s important when selecting someone to come into the country as a full citizen. Number one for me is the values of the person, the ethics. I’d be looking for you-and-me folks rather than me-first ones. People with empathy and kindness as well as smarts. I’d also try to sense if the newcomers will contribute to the well-being of my country – with their skills and leadership. And although formal education is great, it’s overshadowed by wisdom.
Farther down the list for me is knowing a lot of stuff about the new country. And then what sort of knowledge is important, and what types are irrelevant?
And so to the questions. Here are three that I like:
What is one reason colonists came to America? What did people sense about the USA from a distance, such that they wanted to live there? I feel some good answers are economic opportunity, freedom of religion and escape from persecution.
What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment? Assuming that the applicant has studied to know which amendment is which, I like these responses: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press.
Name two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy. Cool answers include: voting, giving an elected official your opinion on an issue, writing a letter to a newspaper.
These questions point to the soul of America, something that the newcomer needs to deepen into.
And then there are other questions, which I find useless – simple memorizing of facts:
Name three original states of the USA.
How many members does the House of Representatives have?
When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
What are two Cabinet-level positions?
Name one war fought by the USA in the 1800’s.
Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
What’s important in citizenship?
What’s important in the home?
What’s important in life?