Volunteer of the Month: Sarah Zaslaw
Above: Civic Engagement volunteer Sarah Zaslaw
Sarah Zaslaw is a classical music host on GPB, Georgia’s statewide public radio network. But on Fridays, she “gets a boost” from helping brand-new American citizens register to vote – a process she finds healthy for our democracy.
For Sarah, seeking refuge and starting over are experiences to which she feels tied historically, as a descendant of the wave of Jews who fled Eastern Europe for the States around the turn of the last century.
She joined New AP two years ago serving with the English at Home program, tutoring a refugee mother and son in English. When she transitioned to helping our Civic Engagement department with voter registration, Sarah’s most memorable experience was her first federal naturalization ceremony in the Russell Federal Building downtown. Before the oath of allegiance, the judge asked each individual to stand up and say their name and where they were from. She says there were dozens of countries represented, including some that you rarely hear about – “from Bhutan to Benin” – and just as many accents heard as speakers called out their countries of origin.
It was a very emotional experience – some people wept, and others were just thrilled to take that final step towards obtaining U.S. citizenship. “They’re all leaving something behind as well as coming to something,” Sarah shares. “You find yourself wondering what led each individual from their birthplace to this moment. I cried, too.”
Seeing people from all over the world at the very moment they become Americans is inspirational. After the ceremony, volunteers like Sarah are there to congratulate new citizens, hand out clipboards, check their forms and get everything ready to submit to the state: “In half an hour we can help more than 100 immigrants make the transition to full citizens.”
Thank you to Sarah, and to all of our volunteers for their hard work and dedication to helping refugees and Georgia thrive.
Are you interested in volunteering with our Civic Engagement program? Come to our next Volunteer Orientation or contact Akheia Bowie for more information about volunteering.