“Independence Day Celebration: Seattle Welcomes 501 New American Citizens”


Independence Day Celebration Seattle Welcomes 501 New American Citizens

When Marha Babatid learned that she would become a U.S. citizen on July Fourth, she was ecstatic. This significant day symbolized a warm and grand welcome to America. The momentous occasion took place at the Seattle Center, where similar events were held across the country.

The ceremony was filled with performers and distinguished speakers, creating a joyful atmosphere for the 501 new citizens from 80 different countries. Sitting outside in the sunshine, surrounded by American flags and red, white, and blue balloons, they felt a strong sense of belonging and pride.

Governor Jay Inslee expressed gratitude to the new citizens for choosing Washington State. He emphasized that the state’s success is rooted in its diverse population, with people from all over the world contributing to renowned companies like Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon.

The new citizens also expressed their appreciation and admiration, as many of them came to the region seeking opportunities to develop their talents.

One individual, Sakaraia Waimila, a 30-year-old from Fiji, shared his dream of becoming a pilot. In his home country, he lacked the financial means to pursue flight school.

However, coming to the United States gave him the chance to pursue his passion and make his dreams come true. Currently working in construction, Waimila mentioned that he will be able to afford the necessary training to become a pilot.

For Waimila, the experience of becoming part of America was deeply emotional. He took the occasion seriously and dressed up for the event, wearing a crisp white shirt, navy slacks, and a brightly colored, flowered tie.

Another individual, Lien Nguyen, 29, holds a business degree from Vietnam and previously worked in sales. Like many others, she is starting a new chapter of her life in the United States.

Starting in the fall, she will be attending the University of Washington to study engineering, embracing the opportunity for personal growth and career development.

During the ceremony, several speakers shared their own stories as examples of what can be achieved in the United States. Chief Judge David Estudillo of the U.S. District Court of Western Washington reflected on his Mexican heritage and the determination instilled in him by his parents. They used to say, “We are here and we are not leaving.”

Estudillo expressed that he is a product of his parents’ sacrifices and serves as a testament to their belief in the promises and opportunities that the United States offers.

U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Seattle, shared her own journey as an immigrant. Arriving in the U.S. at the age of 16, she attended her own swearing-in ceremony 23 years ago. Jayapal proudly declared that she is the first and only South Asian American woman elected to Congress.

Additionally, she highlighted that she is one of only 20 naturalized citizens serving as congressional members.

While celebrating their new citizenship, some speakers acknowledged the imperfections of the country they were joining. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell emphasized that appreciating their new homeland does not mean they should refrain from criticizing it.

He acknowledged that the new citizens may encounter bigotry, hate, and prejudice, especially if they speak with an accent. However, he encouraged them to hold on to hope despite these challenges.

Amidst the ceremony, hope was evident. Chenita Smith, a 30-year-old from South Africa, expressed her belief in the abundant opportunities available in the United States. Smith first came to the country in 2016 as a caregiver for two children and eventually met her husband during her time here.

She built a life, secured a job as a substitute teacher in Kitsap County, and maintained a close relationship with the family she initially lived with on Mercer Island, who were present at the Seattle Center to cheer her on during the ceremony.

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