By Penny Chastain
The Adult Literacy Department at Muskogee Public Library has seen some of our U.S. Citizenship students succeed in becoming U.S. citizens. Recently, a few of us were able to attend a naturalization ceremony in which one of our students became a U.S. citizen.
Becki Schulz, who was our tutor of the year for 2012, wrote a description of the day and the time leading up to the ceremony. Becki is a tutor in English as a Second Language and U.S. Citizenship classes. She is dedicated to helping all her students succeed in the goals they have set for themselves.
Following is Becki’s report:
“On January 18, 2013 there was a Naturalization Oath Ceremony at the U.S. Courthouse in Muskogee, where twenty four immigrants were sworn in as new U.S. Citizens. These immigrants came from Germany, Colombia, Lebanon, Vietnam, Mexico, Turkey, Laos, Japan, Venezuela, Peru, Jamaica, and Nigeria. The new citizens were dressed in their Sunday best and choked back tears, some openly crying, as their names were called to receive their certificates, a small flag and proudly shake the Judge’s hand. I am sure that Magistrate Judge West’s hand had to be sore after the zealous and firm handshakes.
“Twenty four new American Citizens whose journeys to the U.S. are as diverse as their countries. However, their desire to become a U.S. Citizen and the process to reach that goal is the same for each of them. They left their countries of birth for freedom of speech and religion; to escape dangerous and corrupt areas; for economic opportunities and political liberty. These are the very same reasons we were taught that the colonists sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.
“The process they completed to get to this day is the same for each of them. The ten page application, which is thoroughly investigated and verified by the Department of Homeland Security, has cleared scrutiny. The fee of $680.00 has been paid. Proof of residence, physical presence, good moral character and twice fingerprinted is complete. They have studied the one hundred questions which they are required to know for the Naturalization Test. The questions are divided into three categories: “Principles of American Democracy,” “Colonial Period and Independence” and “Geography.” They must learn the number of Amendments to the Constitution, the year it was written, (no, it is not 1776), what the Bill of Rights are, the number of Senators and House of Representatives, as well as the names of their area’s Senators and Representatives and there are ninety seven more. They must be able to read English, speak English and write English.
“The Literacy Department of the Muskogee Public Library was proudly represented at this ceremony because one of those twenty four new American Citizens was their student. This student attended English as a Second Language classes and Citizenship classes given at the library. This student worked nights and came to day classes having had very little sleep. So you will understand that the tears that were flowing that day were not just on the faces of those new citizens and their families. The eyes of those from the library were filled with pride and tears and grateful for having been a part of this student’s journey. We are proud to call him, and the other twenty three, ‘Fellow American.’”
By Becki Schulz
If you are interested in tutoring or studying for the U.S. citizenship test or the GED test or need to improve your reading, writing, comprehension or spelling skills or want to work on your math skills, call us at the Muskogee Public Library.
Penny Chastain is the adult literacy coordinator for the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657, Ext. 246.