Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Joy evident for 30 new citizens at naturalization rite in Toledo


Xiang Lan Geldine of Toledo is all smiles as she receives her papers after a citizenship ceremony.

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They cheered when they were asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

They applauded loudly for special guests whose attendance was noted in passing.

They even cheered and applauded each time U.S. District Court Magistrate Vernelis Armstrong asked them to hold their applause and cheers until all introductions were finished.

When it became apparent that the joy being expressed by the 30 new U.S. citizens and their supporters could not be contained, Magistrate Armstrong just smiled good-naturedly, shrugged her shoulders in mock defeat and enjoyed the celebratory mood.

“The U.S. has a long history of welcoming new citizens to this country,” Magistrate Armstrong said during the naturalization ceremony on Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Toledo. “I know each one of you have thought long about the pros and cons of becoming citizens. We welcome your decision to join us as U.S. citizens.”

PHOTO GALLERY: 30 take oath of citizenship

One of those excited new citizens was Mary Elizabeth Grist-Agubosim, 46, of the Bahamas, who came to the United States in 1990 to study.

Mrs. Grist-Agubosim received a medical degree from the University of Toledo and is now a Toledo pediatrician.

“I feel like this is one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Mrs. Grist-Agubosim, who lives in Toledo with her husband Samuel and their 11-year-old son, John.

Moments after taking his oath of citizenship, Edinson Sterling, 31, ran into the arms of waiting family members, who hugged and patted him on the back. Mr. Sterling, a native of the Dominican Republic, enthusiastically waved a small American flag as he posed for pictures with family members.

“It's so good to be here,” said Mr. Sterling, who arrived in the United States five years ago, with hopes of joining other family members who are U.S. citizens.

“It's more opportunities here,” said Mr. Sterling, who insisted on responding in English. “There's good people in America.”

Friends and family members are allowed to take photographs during citizenship ceremonies, which also includes various speakers, and songs or music performances. The sounds of crying babies and giggles of small children are often heard during ceremonies.

The applause and cheers were expressed politely at the ceremony, which was held inside a courtroom, but noticably more spirited than most ceremonies. Magistrate Armstrong took the noise and interruptions in stride.

She also urged the new citizens to never take their newfound rights for granted. She encouraged them to vote, cherish their right to free speech, and become involved in their communites.

“Be a part of your community — serve on county boards, become involved in organizations,” Magistrate Armstrong told the new citizens. “You are now 100 percent American.

“You have an obligation to do this.”

The new Americans and their native countries are:

Bahamas: Mary Elizabeth Grist-Agubosim

Cameroon: Stephanie Laure Tameze Kamdoum

Canada: Patrice Danielle Lee Seyon

Dominican Republic: Edinson Sterling

Eritrea: Ibrahim Mohamed Hamdan

France: Michele Mawad

India: Arpana Gupta, Jose Joseph, Dayadasiben Jitendrabhai Patel, Paramjit Kaur Sidhu

Kenya: Betty Legat

Laos: Grace Yui Campasouk

Lebanon: Wissam Khalil Hoteit

Liberia: Mona Mae Mothaiga Zoe Mitchell

Mexico: Alicia Mendez, Luis Alberto Mendez, Samuel Campos Ojeda, Jose Roberto Rodriguez Rodriguez

Nigeria: Nsisong Donatus Usanga

Palestine: Ahmed Khalid Bdair

People's Republic of China: Xiang Lan Geldine, Zijun Chad Guan, Sheryl Qianwen Tan, James Ye Tang

Philippines: Mae Loraine Cribillo Finley

Russia: Julia Lizabeth Berger, Mikhail Semenovich Vinngradov

Thailand: Adawan Phonsing

Venezuela: Linda Margarita Parra

Vietnam: Huoi Kim Trinh

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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