Monday’s Citizenship class at the Karen Community Center in Carrboro began like any other. Refugees from Burma packed into the small church building to learn about English spelling conventions, geography, and American government. However, there was a palpable sense of anticipation in the room that had not been apparent in other classes. This was the day that Representative David Price, from North Carolina’s fourth district, visited the class and fielded their questions. Representative Price began with a short speech affirming his commitment to helping immigrants improve their prospects in the United States and to establishing peace in Myanmar. The visit was briefly interrupted by a call from Governor Roy Cooper wanting to discuss Medicaid, a program for which Representative Price later offered an optimistic outlook.

Afterwards, students asked him about his vision for Medicare and Medicaid, the minimum wage, and a path to citizenship for the elderly. Representative Price supported increasing the minimum wage, which he described as “rock-bottom,” although he acknowledged how difficult passing such a law would be both at a state and federal level.

Representative Price also asked students about their lives in their home country and the circumstances from which they fled. Most students revealed that they had lived in a refugee camp for many years before arriving in the United States. The students concluded the visit by taking a group photo with Representative Price, now possessing a greater understanding of some of the policy positions of the Congressman and their network of support in the community.

Orange Literacy would like to thank Lori Carswell, our Citizenship class instructor, and David Russell, assistant to Congressman Price, for scheduling the visit. We would also like to thank Church World Service in Durham for their continued partnership in the Citizenship program.