FINDLAY — It took 25 years for Felisa Pagal Abubo to realize her dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.
For 30 minutes before taking her oath of citizenship, Mrs. Abubo did what mothers across America often find themselves doing: She watched in exasperation as her daughter, Vevalyn, 20, poked her older brother, Lester, 22, who at first tried to ignore his sister’s playful teasing before he starting swatting at her.
Between the siblings sat their father, Medardo, 66, who seemed befuddled at what to do with his uncooperative tie and his sparring children.
The Abubos were among 21 new citizens who participated in a naturalization ceremony held at the Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex at the University of Findlay on Wednesday. Four families were naturalized at the same time.
“It’s rare for entire families to become citizens at the same time,” said Annie Crawford, federal clerk for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. “This time, we had several of them.”
The ceremony included the Ahmad family of Pakistan — Farid Uddin Ahmad, his wife, Kauser Farid Ahmad, and daughter Omaima Farid Ahmad, who now call Toledo home. Mohammad Ali Alnsour and his wife, Maram Mohammad Alnsour of Jordan, celebrated their citizenship together, as did Lawrence Kyounglyul Lee and his wife, Hyunsook Susan Lee of South Korea. The Alnsours live in Sylvania; the Lees in Toledo.
“I think it was God’s blessing that we became citizens together as a family,” Mr. Abubo said.
More than 400 people, including relatives and friends of the new citizens, attended. Students from the college and hundreds of high school students from Findlay, Arcadia, Arlington, and Riverdale were bused in. Vernelis K. Armstrong, a U.S. magistrate judge, presided over the ceremony.
Mrs. Abubo said her brother, a U.S. pastor, filed a petition for her citizenship 25 years ago. The process usually takes 10-15 years, but things became more complicated when she married and had children. She originally had only applied for citizenship for herself.
The Abubos were farmers in the Philippines. The couple said they came to America six years ago to seek better opportunities.
“I raised cows, pigs, goats, and chickens on my farm,” said Mrs. Abubo, who now works at a local packaging factory. “I like to stay in America. But I do miss our farm.”
Mr. Abubo said he never dreamed of coming to America. He didn’t know his wife’s dream was of U.S. citizenship when they married. But he said he has no regrets.
“I didn’t like the weather in the Philippines. It was too hot on the farm,” said Mr. Abubo, who works as a restaurant dishwasher. “When I was a boy, I saw a picture of Alaska, and my dream was to see the snow. This winter, my dream came true.”
His comment draws laughter from his children. They don’t share his fondness for snow, and they said adjusting to another culture was frustrating.
But they say they better appreciate now what their parents did.
They attend Owens Community College in Findlay: Lester Abubo is studying computer science; Vevalyn Abubo wants to become a medical assistant.
“It was a really big adjustment when we came here,” said Vevalyn Abubo, who was 14 when she arrived in the United States. “Everything was really different; the culture, the language.
“I think that’s why we have such a close family; and I really do love my brother.”
The new citizens and their native countries are:
Canada: Mika Sasaki
India: Renu Soni
Jamaica: Lena Mae Green Hanson
Jordan: Maram Mohammad Alnsour, Mohammad Ali Alnsour, Riham Bseiso
Laos: Nicko Insomboun
Mexico: Rodolfo Alfaro, Diego Sanchez
Pakistan: Farid Uddin Ahmad, Kauser Farid Ahmad, Omaima Farid Ahmad, Nasreem Munir Durrani
Philippines: Felisa Pagal Abubo, Lester Pagal Abubo, Medardo Alcantara Abubo, Vevalyn Pagal Abubo.
Poland: Ludmila Puchala
South Korea: Hyunsook Susan Lee, Lawrence Kyounglyul Lee
United Kingdom: Lianne Vanessa Lord
Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.