With handheld American flags waving across the room, immigrants who have completed the naturalization process gather to stand and take the Oath of Allegiance and officially become citizens of the United States of America in front of their families and friends. This fall, Oklahoma City University School of Law was honored to host a naturalization ceremony and be a small part of such a big moment in these new citizens’ lives.
Angela Wang moved to the United States from China more than ten years ago. She serves as an active-duty U.S. Army service member in Fort Sill, OK, as part of the artillery brigade and recently returned from a deployment in Qatar. She said when she started serving in the Army, she thought that would speed up her citizenship process, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in that.
“Because this process is so long, it’s very transformative to me,” Angela said about the naturalization and citizenship process. “I know there are so many people born and raised in this country, but they probably don’t love this country like I do.”
Angela wanted to become a U.S. citizen primarily because of the promise that bestows on her career prospects. She noted that many U.S. citizens don’t realize how important citizenship is in so many aspects of life.
Amin Al Shatnawi grew up with ten sisters and three brothers in Jordan. Amin went to school in Jordan before he was accepted at a school in California and made the move to the United States. The California school didn’t work out for him, but he met his future wife in the process. Now they live in Oklahoma with their two children.
When Amin came to the U.S., he only had $1,000 to his name. Now he has a successful career at Mathis Brothers Furniture as a salesman and advisor. Amin wants to become a U.S. citizen in part because of his wife and children. He said he wants to be a part of his community and because the U.S. is his home now.
“Really, I appreciate the opportunity [in the U.S.],” Amin said. “If you really want to do something, dreams can come true…The United States is the land of opportunity. I got a good chance, and I worked hard for it.”
Amin said Oklahoma and the people here remind him of the small town he grew up in back in Jordan. He said his friends in California questioned why he would want to come to Oklahoma, but the people have always treated him well and kindly.
“I really love this country,” Amin said. “Maybe more than most people because of the opportunity I’ve been given. If you work hard in a great land like the United States of America, dreams come true.”