It was a brief but important ceremony for 50 people representing 27 different countries, who gathered at the NH Institute of Politics on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester Sept. 19, ready to be sworn in as U.S. citizens.
Among them, Philomene Uwamariya of Rwanda, who said she has dreamed of America since she was a little girl.
“I’m so happy to be a citizen of the United States,” said Uwamariya, following the ceremony.
Equally excited was Homa Jaferey, who emigrated from the UK more than 20 years ago as a young wife. She has since raised two children here, and is enrolled in Nashua Community College. Although her marriage recently ended in divorce, she said she finally had the time to do something for herself, by pursuing her U.S. citizenship.
“I’ve always wanted to be a citizen of the United States of America, but I never had the opportunity before. As soon as I got my divorce I was able to fill in the application and send in that check and take that test. I’m so proud because this is the county that accepts everyone from every nation, and that’s why I love this country,” Jaferey said.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, it costs $680 to file an application for U.S. citizenship, which includes the $95 fingerprinting fee.
Denis C Riordan, District 1 USCIS Director, welcomed the group and led them in the oath of allegiance.
“It wasn’t an easy road for those of you who left your homes and family, some under threat of persecution. All of you have your individual story … but it took courage to leave the lands you were born and raised in; it took courage to travel over land and sea. Today we celebrate the sacrifices you made to come here,” Riordan said.
During the week of Sept. 17-23 the USCIS welcomed more than 27,000 new citizens in more than 160 naturalization ceremonies. During this week — also known as Constitution Week — museums, historic and public libraries, government landmarks and national park sites provide a backdrop for the celebration of citizenship and the achievements of our newest U.S. citizens.
“U.S. citizenship is defined by what we have in common: equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities,” said USCIS Director León Rodriguez. “As we celebrate our Constitution this week, more than 27,000 new U.S. citizens will now be able to vote, volunteer, participate, and become engaged in issues that are important to them and their families,” said Rodriguez, via the USCIS site.[Click here to sign up for the Manchester Ink Link daily eNews]
In Manchester, the NH Center for Politics is a hub of local democracy, as it not only is often host to presidential hopefuls as they campaign their way through New Hampshire, but also a hall of learning for students who are interested in the workings of the American political process, a foundation of our democracy.
“The most important thing I’ve learned about being an American is that you have to be a good citizen, which means getting involved, voting and helping your neighbors,” Jaferey said.
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Highlights from the 2014 U.S. Citizenship ceremony at the NH Center for Politics.