UNC Global in conjunction with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosted a naturalization ceremony recognizing 30 candidates for U.S. citizenship from 17 different nations on Friday, March 28.
The ceremony took place in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jay Weselmann, field office director of the Raleigh-Durham Field Office, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, administered the oath of allegiance and presented candidates their certificates of naturalization.
Additional members of the UNC community participated in the event including the University’s ROTC chapter, which presented the colors, and one of UNC’s all-female a cappella groups, Cadence, which performed the national anthem.
Ron Strauss, chief international officer and executive vice provost, provided welcoming remarks and the keynote address. During his remarks, Strauss spoke of his own experiences as a first-generation American born to immigrant parents who left Germany shortly before World War II. Strauss reflected on UNC’s history as an institution first chartered in 1789 and as a university whose history remains intertwined with the experiences of immigrants.
“Generations of immigrants and their descendants have helped shape the University and have contributed to our success,” said Strauss. “Contributions by immigrants continue to revitalize the University and the country by increasing diversity, broadening perspectives and thus improving the quality of our state and of the country as whole.”
Strauss also noted the diversity represented at the ceremony.
“You have come to the United States from all around the world. You are bringing so many cultures, perspectives and experiences to our country,” he said. “We are still a nation built upon immigrants, built upon people willing to leave one home to embrace a new one, and we are proud you are calling the state of North Carolina home.”
Shai Tamari, associate director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and a recently naturalized U.S. citizen, provided remarks on his path to citizenship. Tamari reflected on his journey to the United States, which took him from Israel to Australia and then to the United Kingdom before finally becoming a U.S. citizen in December 2013.
The newly naturalized citizens include local Chapel Hill residents like Bin Xi, mother of a son in his junior year at Carolina. Xi said she wanted to become an American citizen to permanently stay in the country.
“I like the Chapel Hill weather, the area, UNC,” she said. “It’s a good friend, the neighborhood.”