Receiving citizenship: It was all worth it

Asukulu Songolo with brother and coach

When I became a citizen I was in the second grade. It was because my mother worked hard at receiving citizenship for herself and her children.

She had filed to receive her citizenship a year earlier.  With years of pain and suffering, the moment we were given our citizenship certificates meant our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My mother at the time of our receiving the United States citizenship had just given birth to a baby boy. This birth made our receiving citizenship ever more meaningful. It was as if we were all truly one when, with my baby brother, we got that certificate.

I marveled at how a simple piece of paper opened my family and me up to not a whole country of possibilities, but a whole world of them.

I remember my mother always waking up early in the morning and making us breakfast while getting us ready for school. As if that wasn’t enough she studied at the table along with us on the bus while dropping us off at school and then going to work. She came home after grueling days at work, picked us up from school, helped us with our homework, cooked us dinner, and once again hit the books. All in a day’s time was literally the story of my mom’s life leading up to her citizenship test and interview. She studied with this strict regimen for a few months.

man and woman with flags clapping
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It was all worth it when they called her name. It was a moment of pure joy, pure happiness, and probably most importantly a moment of belonging. Receiving citizenship was like a dream. It was great to finally be part of the country we had lived in for a while. Looking around the room you couldn’t help but notice all the different types of people who adorned the ceremonial hall. We were all so different in our life experiences and in the path we took to get there but one thing united us was our want and our coming to belong to this country.

To anyone who is still trying to become a citizen, I would say that they should simply persevere. It will all prove worth it in the end. It is important to study all the material and know it inside and out. This provides the best chance to be accepted as a citizenship candidate. Mom worked very hard to fully understand the material and it is important for others to do the same. Don’t neglect any part of the process of the test, the interview, or anything in between.

By doing all this my mother got to that special day, the citizenship ceremony. She was very late that morning she jumped out of bed and rushed to get everyone ready.

That day was so great, it had finally affirmed and confirmed our right to be contributing members to the American society.

It mandated our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That moment when you cannot only call yourself a citizen of the United States of America but feel like a citizen of the world.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.