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Celebrate Citizenship, Celebrate America: LCNV hosted its second USCIS Naturalization Ceremony of the year

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) hosted a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Naturalization ceremony at the James Lee Community Center, on November 2, 2016.

On this day, 53 candidates took the solemn Oath of Allegiance to become American citizens. The James Lee Community Center Theater was filled with friends, families, and LCNV staff and students, who came to witness this important day in the lives of new citizens.

Becoming a U.S. citizen involves years of thorough preparation and hard work. A fundamental requirement of naturalization is the ability to read, write, and speak enough English to pass the citizenship exam and to take the Oath of Allegiance. "We welcome these folks as new citizens," says Anne Spear, President, LCNV Board of Directors. "These are folks who come from different countries and they have learned English, studied the United States government, and have done everything they need to do to swear their Oath of Allegiance today to the United States. We are honored to be hosting these candidates today."

A newly naturalized citizen from China, Wei Song, says, "I'm really-really excited to become a citizen, especially because it takes Chinese people a long time to get their permanent residency in the United States."

Another new citizen originally from Sudan, Khalid Arhman, says, "It’s exciting to become a citizen. It has been my dream to become an American citizen. America is a land of opportunities and this is my moment, my day."

Only a few days from the General Elections on November 8, the naturalization ceremony was even more relevant and relatable for the candidates, as they have been following the elections throughout the campaigning period. However, since the voter registration cutoff date passed on October 21, these newly naturalized citizens were not eligible to vote this election. LCNV’s learners who witnessed the ceremony left inspired to stick with their English classes and, if they weren’t already, to get on a path of citizenship.

The James Lee Community Center is a Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services facility that provides an array of programs for people of all ages, and provides generous office space to LCNV. "We are so excited about this partnership with USCIS. LCNV has hosted two naturalization ceremonies at the James Lee Center this year and we hope to host many more," says Anne.

Watch Fairfax County's Channel 16 broadcast of the event

Mearl Colaco