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0001010106000000000 Judge Jack Zouhary and new citizen Malak Lenhart, formerly of Jordan. Lenhart speaks with her husband, Wayne Lenhart, in the audience. The Lenharts lives in Norwalk. 58 people from around the world become citizens of the United States of America in a naturalization ceremony at the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio on October 3, 2013. The presiding for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio Western Division is Judge Jack Zouhary.
Judge Jack Zouhary and new citizen Malak Lenhart, formerly of Jordan. Lenhart speaks with her husband, Wayne Lenhart, in the audience. The Lenharts lives in Norwalk. 58 people from around the world become citizens of the United States of America in a naturalization ceremony at the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio on October 3, 2013. The presiding for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio Western Division is Judge Jack Zouhary.
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Published: Friday, 10/4/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AT RITE

America welcomes 58 new citizens in ceremony at zoo

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

She sat in a wheelchair at the far end of the auditorium and stretched her long arm as high as she could.

Shardaben Chimanlal Vyas, 86, of India smiled broadly, but her soft voice sounded tired as she repeated the oath of citizenship along with 57 other people who were officially becoming United States citizens.

As each person was called to the front of the auditorium to pick up the certificate of citizenship, Ms. Vyas watched with such intensity, it seemed she was trying to etch every moment of Thursday's naturalization ceremony into her memory.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos from the ceremony

Ms. Vyas, a Toledo resident, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and realizes those memories might be lost to her forever, perhaps in one hour, or if lucky, she'll be able to cherish them for a couple more days.

“We just take it day by day,” said Ms. Vyas, who speaks in Gujaiabi, an Indian dialect that her son, Mahendra Vyas, 66, interprets. “It feels good to be a U.S. citizen.”

Thursday's naturalization ceremony was held at the Toledo Zoo’s indoor theater of its Museum of Science Building.

The other 57 new citizens were seated at the front of the auditorium and had to walk up to the stage to pick up their certificates. U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary, who presided over the ceremony, presented Ms. Vyas with her citizenship certificate at the back of the auditorium where she was seated in her wheelchair. He was joined by several other court officials and well-wishers.

Mr. Vyas and his wife, Anila, 66, initially came to the United States on business and study visas. His mother would visit occasionally but she and her husband weren’t interested in moving to America at the time. They had spent their entire lives in India, she said.

U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary, left, presents Shardaben Chimanlal Vyas, 86, with her citizenship papers during the ceremony Thursday in Toledo. At right is her daughter-in-law, Anila Vyas. The elder Ms. Vyas lives with her son, Mahendra, and his family. She is a native of India. U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary, left, presents Shardaben Chimanlal Vyas, 86, with her citizenship papers during the ceremony Thursday in Toledo. At right is her daughter-in-law, Anila Vyas. The elder Ms. Vyas lives with her son, Mahendra, and his family. She is a native of India.
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Mr. Vyas said after his father died in 2004, he brought his mother to Toledo to live with him. At that point she wanted to be with family, he said. It was important for her to become a citizen because visas have to be renewed, and he didn’t want his elderly mother traveling back and forth.

Ms. Vyas began showing signs of Alzheimer’s in 2012 and his mother’s condition has progressively gotten worse, Mr. Vyas said. The goal was to get her through the citizenship process while she was still capable.

“She’s all right today,” said Mr. Vyas as he turned to look at his mother smiling and waving her tiny American flag. “It’s a happy day for all of us.”

The new Americans and their native countries are:

Burkina Faso: Wendinda Roland Zongo

Cameroon: Valery Asangbe Kaba

Canada: Mile Brujic, Leah Iagulli, Idris Muhammad

Colombia: Henry Choconta

Cote D’Ivoire: Rokya Toure Miller

Eritrea: Hana Tesfamichael

Germany: Erika Gudrun Ehler, Beatrice Martina Guenther

Ghana: Henry Omari Ameyaw

India: Sweta Andrews, Tanuja Ashok Gandhi, Harminder Kaur, Mayur Bharat Patel, Shardaben Chimanlal Vyas

Jamaica: Marlene Marcia Chybar

Jordan: Amal Fares Abufares, Malak El Sabke Lenhart, Suhair Tayseer Mansour

Laos: Thang Darapheth

Lebanon: Chafica Chafic El Khechen, Abbas Moussa Khreis, Rana Mahmoud Rahal

Mexico: Ma. De La Luz Bedolla, Heriberto Chavez, Veronica Sierra De Arroyo, Alfonso De Loera, Jorge Ignacio Gabriel, Hector Javier Garza, Sr., Rafael Sanzon Loza, Maria Guadalupe Martinez, Cipriano Palacios, Maria Gloria Sanzon, Blanca Vargas

Morocco: Mustapha Addouz

Nicaragua: Christhiam Munoz

Nigeria: Mfon-Obong James Etim

Pakistan: Asif Abdullah, Mirza Ammar Ahmed, Jamila Noor Khokhar, Omer Iqbal Minhas

People’s Republic of China: Rongbi Duan, Kai Hai Lian, Yu Feng Lin, Qin Shao, Ming Ying Tang

Philippines: Mary Grace Pancobila Smith

Saudi Arabia: Laila Fouad Alam

South Korea: Sung David Chun, Won Eirene Han

Taiwan: A Chung Lu

Thailand: Chonnikan Juntura

Turkey: David Siddik Chief, Naz Nazife Chief

United Kingdom: William Joseph Berry, Stuart James Roderick Graham

Vietnam: Tam Thai Le

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



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