Accomplishments, fulfilled dreams, unexpected awards “life leaps”…they are all reasons to celebrate. The Great Plains Literacy Council and the Southern Prairie Library System have had reasons to celebrate! In the last year and a half, there were 18 adult learners who completed the process of becoming citizens and five learners are waiting for the ceremony.
Those who have completed the requirements and the state ceremony included Rangelin Kermendy Rosario from the Dominican Republic, Linda Beaulieu from England, Abdul Lakhanpal from Pakistan, Francine Drake from Canada, John Campos from El Salvador, Martha Fassil from Africa, Rosa Maldonado from Honduras, and from Mexico were Hortencia Flores, Fernando Julian, Ruben Diaz Sanchez, Jesus Villegas, Pedro Espinosa Ramirez, Reyes Granado, Marbella Perez de Hernandez, Abigail Perez, Yolando Moreno, Alex Garrido, and Martha Martinez. The five who have completed the requirements and are waiting for the Oklahoma City ceremony are Aurelio Toledo, Gessica Briones, Elvia Ramos, Estello Toledo, and Erika Aburto.
To congratulate the new citizens, “Citizenship Ceremonies” were held on January 17 to recognize their hard work and accomplishment that did not go unnoticed. The two ceremonies were at 11 am and 5 pm. at the Altus Public Library.
“We were so proud of their dedication,” said Kathy Hale, Director of the Southern Prairie Library System. “As these permanent residents traveled the road to citizenship, there had been moments of discouragement and lots of study. We wanted to recognize them for reaching their goals.”
The majority of the honorees were enrolled in the literacy tutoring program for several years to gain confidence in a new language. This also gave them time to work on their applications and save $680 for the application plus money for travel to Oklahoma City three times. If there were any legal complications, more money and time were needed.
Honorees were interviewed to collect personal stories and information on family and work. Photos of their state citizenship ceremonies were gathered or current photos were taken. This was all assembled by ESL Outreach Facilitator Elsa L. Garcia in to a PowerPoint presentation and used in a citizenship yearbook given at the January 17 programs.
US Citizenship and Immigration Service Community Relations Officer Jesus Ramirez from the Dallas office welcomed the new citizens at the ceremonies and addressed them about their new rights and responsibilities.
As Elsa Garcia and GPLC Coordinator Ida Fay Winters read each life story, the honoree’s photo was projected on a large screen. Mr. Ramirez congratulated each honoree and presented the citizenship yearbook containing all the stories of each adult learner. Tokens of appreciation were also presented by the literacy staff. This included notebooks, pens, and candy.
Kathy Hale gave closing comments of best wishes and congratulations on their learning and desire to be a US citizen. She thanked the volunteer tutors and expressed appreciation to Bi-lingual Outreach Facilitator Aleida Burchett, who was unable to attend due to illness, for her help as well.
Those desiring to be citizens of this country must live in the US for a specific time, be present for a specific time period, have good moral character, know English and information about US history and government, and accept the principles of the US constitution. Persons interested in becoming citizens should call the literacy office at 477-2890 for more information.