On Wednesday, July 2nd three staff from LSS Center for New Americans—Solomon from Eritrea, Julia from Russia, and Lwe from Burma—became American citizens following a Naturalization Ceremony at beautiful and historic Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After the holiday weekend, I was able to catch up with Solomon, a case aid and Kunama interpreter, and Julia, an English instructor, about their experience.
Solomon arrived in the U.S. as a refugee in 2006. He was 21 years old and attended college in the United States.
“Solomon, why did you want to be an American citizen?”
I am going to live here a long time. It was important to upgrade my [immigration] status. Citizenship can benefit many things…for traveling, participate in voting.
“Does Independence Day mean anything different to you now?”
It is like…a double celebration for me now, you know.
Julia immigrated to the United States from Russia with her husband, a naturalized American citizen from Nicaragua, nine years ago. They have two little girls. Julia shared that her decision to become a United States citizen evolved around her family and their future. “Everyone in my family is an American citizen. World politics are not very stable between our two countries [Russia and the U.S.] and none of us know what will happen in the future. We have to be in the same boat.”
Julia considers the Black Hills one of the most beautiful places on earth and especially enjoyed hiking in them during this last visit. “They are so relaxing. I understand why this area is considered a sacred place to Native Americans. It is so inspiring.”
Her family stayed in the Black Hills for several days taking in Bear Country, the Reptile Gardens, Keystone, and many other sights, but she already has plans for what their next trip will entail. “Caving, if the girls will let us.”
Congratulations Solomon, Julia, and Lwe, our newest Americans!