The Citizenship Tutoring (Cit-Tut) program is a leading example of Harvard University’s commitment to public service and community building. Developed through a partnership between the Institute of Politics (IOP) and the Harvard Bridge, Cit-Tut pairs volunteer tutors with Harvard employees who seek to apply for United States citizenship.

Quentin Gilly, Interim Assistant Director, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Sustainability & Energy at the Harvard Office for Sustainability, became a volunteer tutor in the summer of 2019. Gilly shares his decision was partly inspired by his experience attending a Cit-Tut dinner, which celebrates members of the program who passed their citizenship test. Among them was a worker at the Rock Cafe in the Harvard Divinity School who he frequently ran into during the workday. They shared a conversation about how the Citizen Tutoring program had such a positive impact on the Rock Café worker’s goals, which was all Gilly needed to know before signing up to volunteer. 

When it comes to the curriculum, tutors do not necessarily have to be advanced in the English language and or literature experts. Gilly remarks that a lot of his tutoring experience has focused on more subtle nuances that come with the cadences involved in speaking English: enunciation and rhythm that are key across all four components of the U.S. Citizenship test (civics, speaking, reading, and writing). Most of his one-on-one tutoring sessions focus on verbal conversation based on passages and photographs while sticking to International English Language Testing System (IELTS) guidelines. 

Tamara S. Suttle, Citizenship Program Manager and Instructor states: “The collaboration between the Harvard Bridge Program and the Institute of Politics Cit Tut Program has been instrumental in helping over 250 students become United States citizens and civic participants in their communities.” 

One of the greatest joys of Gilly’s experience was developing a friendship with tutees. He remembers that his first student, Marlon Delgado, had a degree in computer technology from El Salvador. Though Marlon had notable talent in the field, he struggled with interviews and writing resumes that best marketed his abilities. Working to equip Marlon with the tools to support himself in reaching his goals was incredibly rewarding to Gilly, and he proudly shares that his former tutee now works at a research lab. 

The Cit-Tut program has supported hundreds of tutees since being founded, often functioning as a doubly rewarding experience for volunteers who come away learning more about the culture and country of the employee they are tutoring. In his final reflection of the program, Gilly stated that it was incredible to know that something as simple as talking to someone in English can make a huge difference in giving back. 

For more information about the Cit-Tut program or to get involved, visit https://iop.harvard.edu/get-involved/citizenship-tutoring.