Last Monday, 13 individuals earned the right to call themselves Americans during a naturalization ceremony at the Redmond Regional Library.
Representing nine countries, the new U.S. citizens came from as far as Romania, Taiwan and Indonesia to just north of the border in Canada.
For Dinis Couto and Cynthia Couto, becoming U.S. citizens has just made official what the Kirkland couple has felt since coming to the states. Cynthia, who came from Brazil, said life in the states has been like second nature for them.
“We were happy living here. People were nice to us,” she said about life before earning their citizenship. “I feel part of this country already.”
Dinis, who came from Portugal, agreed, saying their experience in this country — which started in Florida before they moved to the Pacific Northwest — has been filled with friendly, welcoming people.
A number of people spoke at Monday’s naturalization ceremony, including Holly Koelling, director of public services for the King County Library System (KCLS).
She said libraries are a primary institution for their communities and provide various, nonjudgmental services for people, regardless of their background. Some of those services include classes in which people can learn the skills, language and ways of living to help them adjust to life in the United States. The library also offers services to help people become U.S. citizens, “if they choose so,” Koelling said.
Linh Tran, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer, added that libraries have also had a long history of being a place of self-education for immigrants.
City of Redmond Mayor John Marchione also spoke at Monday’s ceremony. During his speech, he shared his families’ stories of coming to the United States from Italy and Newfoundland. Marchione said his family was able to incorporate American culture with their cultural heritage and encouraged the new U.S. citizens to do the same.
“I wish you the best of luck and welcome you to the community,” Marchione said to them.