With flowers and children in tow, people crowded into an Ashland theater last week to watch their friends and family become naturalized U.S. citizens.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival hosted the naturalization ceremony at the Angus Bowmer theater. These new Americans moved from 22 different countries to live in the Rogue Valley area.
Woranut Farnham is from Thailand. She said her husband became gravely ill after she started her naturalization process, but she persevered with his encouragement.
“He said, ‘You could do it. You’re smart enough to do it by yourself,’” Farnham said. “And he supported me. Even though he passed away, I feel him in my heart.”
Following the ceremony, Patel Sarjuben Rohitbhai — who moved to the U.S. from India — said she felt elated after completing this milestone.
“I feel really proud,” Rohitbhai said. “And I feel really, really happy that I’m a U.S. citizen.”
Before someone becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States, they need to pass a detailed exam and repeat the Oath of Allegiance during a formal ceremony.
In all, the ceremony included new citizens from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Columbia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Office frequently hosts naturalization ceremonies in Portland, although it will also hold them in Southern Oregon at least once a year.