By Joan Stopka
Some of the accompaniments that have impacted me the most are the trips I have taken to USCIS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. We accompany individuals there for a variety of reasons, including interviews for those applying for residency or citizenship. I recently accompanied an elderly woman who was ready to take the citizenship test. As an older individual, she was eligible to have the immigration test presented to her orally in her native language. She was required to study from a list of 100 questions and then answer 6 out of 10 correctly. On the day she was scheduled, it just so happened that another compañera was accompanying a couple to take their exam as well, and thanks to their hard work and studying, all three of them passed! There were hugs, tears and phone calls to relatives to let them know that they now could make arrangements for their swearing in ceremony and the celebrations to follow. They were soon to be American citizens.
On a different day, I had the opportunity to accompany another client to his citizenship ceremony. I got to sit next to him to interpret the entire event. There were about 145 people from 40 different countries. In the auditorium, the excitement and joy of the candidates and that of their families were palpable. It made me feel proud to be present, to witness how the hard work and long hope of these new citizens had brought them to this point. I took pictures of our client with his certificate after the ceremony. Then we went down the street before returning to Taller for a soft drink and water. I thanked him for the privilege to be with him on his special day and that the occasion had also touched me deeply. I hope that others like myself, someone who was born in the United States , can have this experience, which a moment of happiness and profound insight.