The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 12, 2012

Naturalization ceremony welcomes new citizens at George Washington Carver National Monument

DIAMOND, Mo. — Jacques Dipoko was a happy man on Friday.

Dipoko, of Springfield, came from Cameroon in Africa in 2007 to join family in the United States. He was among 37 immigrants from 27 countries who became U.S. citizens in a naturalization ceremony at George Washington Carver National Monument.

“I’m feeling good,” Dipoko said. “It’s a pleasure. There is safety and a lot of opportunity in America.”

He was at the ceremony with his girlfriend, his brother and another friend.

“Today’s my day,” he said of the event. “I hope God can bless this day for me.”

Danny Chapman moved to the U.S. six years ago from London, England, to marry his wife, Rose. They had met two years before that in a Yahoo! chat room. They live in Waynesville, and he works in the post exchange at Fort Leonard Wood.

“I’m very proud,” he said. “I worked hard to get here.”

He said that next to his wedding day, this ranks as one of the biggest days of his life.

“Excited,” Rose said about how she felt. “We started the process five years ago. It’s nice he’ll have the benefits of being a citizen.”

Sara Aponte, of Branson, moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1997. She said her mom had family in the U.S. and her parents had just divorced. She said it was an important day.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I’m ready. It’s a really long and expensive process.”

Tanya Seu, from Ukraine, was brought to the U.S. as a small child in 1998. Now she’s 27 and lives in Willow Springs.

“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a big day.”

Chunhui Chen, of Springfield, said she came to the U.S. from China in 2003. Her parents are U.S. citizens living in Los Angeles, and she said they encouraged her to become a citizen.

“I’m very happy, excited,” she said. “I want to stay here in America. I’m not Chinese anymore. I’m American.”

She called the ceremony “life-changing” and said despite her new citizenship, she can’t forget her heritage and culture.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Federman presided over the ceremony. He said his parents were naturalized citizens, German Jews who survived the Holocaust and came to the U.S. in 1946. He said as he grew up, they often told him stories of the reading and studying required to learn English and to learn about the customs of the United States so they could become citizens.

“I would encourage each of you to see this as a milestone, but not as a goal in and of itself,” he said.

He encouraged the new citizens to exercise their right to vote and to become informed voters. He encouraged them to become actively involved in their communities.

He said the U.S. is a diverse country because of them and people like them who came before.

“You shouldn’t abandon your roots,” he said. “You shouldn’t abandon the life and culture you came from. I would encourage each of you to remember where you came from.”

He said he enjoys naturalization ceremonies.

“I can presume that when we’re done, everyone will leave happy,” he said, noting that isn’t typical in court cases.

The minor children of the new citizens also automatically became citizens when the parent became a citizen.

Lana Henry, management assistant at George Washington Carver National Monument, said the park applied with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services more than a year ago to serve as host for a naturalization ceremony. She said this is the first time the monument had been the site of such an event. She said she hopes it can be repeated in the future.

Park Superintendent Jim Heaney said during the ceremony that the birthplace of George Washington Carver, who was born into slavery and became one of America’s greatest agriculture scientists, is an appropriate location for such a ceremony.

“Today we honor your struggles, your ambitions, your commitment and your dreams as American citizens,” Heaney said.

Multiple countries

Some other nations represented by people at the naturalization ceremony on Friday included Nepal, Vietnam, Armenia, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Somalia, India and Japan.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • outdoor_waylanskuku.jpg Last remaining Ku-Ku

    While other fast food locations along Miami’s portion of Route 66 tend to slow down in the mid-afternoon, Eugene Waylan is still hard at work behind his grill serving up hamburgers to a packed drive through.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Grant to fund solar energy system for PSU’s Plaster Center

    An $80,000 grant from Westar Energy will fund solar panels to provide both energy and education at the Robert W. Plaster Center, now under construction at Pittsburg State University.

    August 1, 2014

  • Habitat slates volunteer work days

    In the wake of the 2011 tornado, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity has been a partner with organizations and individuals in the construction of 86 new houses. But what’s also needed, Executive Director Scott Clayton said, are repairs to area homes.

    July 31, 2014

  • Jasper County voters to decide three offices

    Two incumbents are facing challengers and three candidates are vying for what will be an open county office in primary balloting Tuesday in Jasper County.

    July 31, 2014

  • Event for veterans on tap at Crowder

    For area veterans who have returned home from more than a decade at war, the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks hopes to send a simple message at an event this weekend: Welcome home.

    August 1, 2014

  • Brownback names 3 Kansas Board of Regents members

    Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday named a former veteran Kansas House member and two attorneys to the board overseeing the state’s higher education system.

    August 1, 2014

  • Survey seeks views on Joplin’s future goals

    Residents are being asked to fill out a survey on priorities for Joplin’s future. The effort was inspired by a meeting of community leaders last month. Survey forms are available at the Joplin Public Library and online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/jointjoplinareaplanningsurvey.

    July 31, 2014

  • City Council member criticizes master developer in TV interview

    A member of the Joplin City Council told an Amarillo, Texas, newscaster that Joplin’s contracted master developer has “overpromised and underdelivered.” Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg’s comments were included in a two-part report that aired this week on Amarillo television station KVII-TV.

    July 31, 2014

  • Southeast Kansas health center receives federal funding for mental health services

    The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas was awarded a $250,000 grant Thursday, part of $54.6 million in Affordable Care Act mental health services funding awarded to 221 such centers nationwide.

    July 31, 2014

  • Denied request for National Guard visit draws attention from Fox News host

    A Carthage church finds itself in the middle of a media storm after the Missouri National Guard, citing short notice and time constraints, was not able to fulfill a request last week to appear at the church’s vacation Bible school.

    July 31, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you plan on voting in the Aug. 5 elections being held in Missouri and Kansas?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter