An American dream come true
By JR Ancheta
Sun Star Reporter
On Friday, Dec. 10, 25 petitioners sat in the jury box of the United States District Court as they waited to become United States citizens. The courtroom’s ambiance was that of solemnity and of eagerness for the event to come.
The court convened as U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott A. Oravec entered the chambers. The naturalization ceremony, where foreign nationals become United States citizens, had begun.
“This is a beautiful day for me,” Jean-Yves Boumbe-Boumbe said. “This is the beginning of a new life, so I’m very happy in becoming a citizen today.” Boumbe-Boumbe emigrated in 2005 from Cameroon, and is a student at UAF studying petroleum engineering. He came to Alaska because he wanted to have more contact with English speakers.
Although they had different backgrounds and stories, the 25 new citizens had a similar path to citizenship. The process took years of work and persistence. They completed naturalization forms, proved their proficiency in English and passed a civics test administered by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. Petitioners must be at least 18 years of age, have a green card, and must have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years.
After the welcoming remarks, the National Anthem and the Alaska State Flag Song were sung. Led by Oravec, the petitioners recited the Oath of Allegiance, renouncing their fidelity to their previous foreign states. This was followed by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The newly naturalized citizens were able to share their stories and backgrounds and were congratulated by a panel, as well as their families and friends.
Three current UAF students and one recent graduate became U.S. citizens: Boumbe-Boumbe; Hsuanhua Smart, a graduate student in statistics; Ophelia Ann George, a graduate student in geography; and Suyene Pesquera Dallman, a recent graduate in applied business.
“They tend to appreciate being a citizen more than someone who is a naturally born citizen,” Oravec said. “You don’t really think about it too much at first…[but] then you begin to appreciate these rights we have here…but sometimes when you grow up [in the US], your perception is that you think it’s just normal.”
The ceremony lasted an hour, but in that hour they started their new lives as American citizens.