Boulder Woman Opens Doors for Immigrants to Learn English, Become U.S. Citizens

Two women stand for a photo. Anita Stuehler is on the right.

Anita Stuehler (right) pictured with a friend

By Matt Pace, Boulder Stake Social Media Specialist

For nearly 20 years, Anita Stuehler, a Boulder resident and member of the Boulder Stake, has taught citizenship classes to immigrants from around the world. In Anita’s words, “this is the 2nd best thing I have done in my life… after raising my own children.”

A former librarian, Anita began serving the community in 2001, teaching English lessons to immigrants from the former Soviet Republics at the city library as they began arriving in the Boulder area. There was a particular need to help women, most of whom lacked the opportunities other family members enjoyed through work or school, to learn English.

After retiring in 2005 she saw an opportunity to stay on at the library as a volunteer and help immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship. Since then, she has taught free weekly classes centered both on navigating the complex and nuanced process of applying, as well as U.S. civics, helping applicants prepare for their oral interviews.

Every Monday night for the past two decades Anita has taught a dozen or so adults from over 90 countries. She has been inspired and humbled by the trials they have gone through, from surviving genocide to enduring years in refugee camps. For many, citizenship brings with it a feeling of safety, which some have never previously experienced in their lives, and the privilege to vote and have a voice.

Anita believes we are missionaries through how we live our lives and serve beyond ourselves, particularly when we do so without an ulterior motive. She has never sought to convert her students to her faith, but rather has taught them to respect the rights of others as guaranteed in the US Constitution to practice any faith… or none at all.

There are opportunities to help the immigrant community all around us, she said, and “If people really want to know what it means to be a citizen of our country, attend a Citizenship ceremony,” which are open to the public and occur daily in Denver and less frequently throughout the state. The next ceremony at the Boulder library, for example, will be on July 9th, and you are sure to find Anita there.

Anita’s dedication and selfless service exemplify Christianity, community and citizenship, leaving an indelible mark on the lives she touches. Her impact resonates far beyond Boulder, inspiring others to embrace compassion and inclusivity. Thank you Anita.


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