Monday, September 12, 2011

The Promise of the American Dream

Several Bremer Bank employees were privileged to attend Friday, September 9th’s Naturalization Ceremony at the Marshall High School Theatre. Thirty-one people took the Oath of Allegiance at the ceremony, becoming new U. S. Citizens. Thirteen countries were represented in the group. Bremer Bank-Marshall was among sponsors for the reception following the ceremony, and in the days leading up to the event bank staff learned a lot about what it takes to get to the moment of naturalization for people who weren’t born here.

The Charter’s Diversity Committee organized a session in which three of our own employees who have attained citizenship in past and recent ceremonies shared stories of their personal citizenship journey. We also heard from a local Adult Basic Education-English As A Second Language teacher on how the ABE/ESL program assists those who seek help in the process. And we all tested our own knowledge about U.S. history, government and civic principles by taking some time with the Naturalization Self Test, a study tool offered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that helps candidates study for the civics portion of the naturalization exam. In furthering the learning experience to the community – and it is a humbling one for most of us who are native born, yet have difficulty correctly answering many of the basic civics, history and government test questions– Bremer Bank stepped up to sponsor a Marshall Radio Citizenship Quiz Contest. Promoted in the days leading up to the Naturalization Ceremony, radio listeners called in to try their skill at the citizenship test questions, and qualified for one of four U.S. Savings Bonds from Bremer.

Every speaker at the ceremony on Friday, from the district superintendent who gave the welcome, to the young Marshall Public School math teacher who gave the keynote speech on his own citizenship path after coming to the U.S. from Laos at the age of six, to President Obama’s videotaped message to the new citizens, encouraged them to embrace America. Each one also emphasized the importance of the newly naturalized citizens not to leave their native culture behind; keeping alive their traditions and customs as this is what makes America special. The 31 citizenship candidates were welcomed with the message, “today you make whole the promise of the American Dream,” and sent on with encouragement that, “you can help write the next great chapter in our country’s history.”

Below are some photos of brand new U.S. Citizens. Congratulations!!

Lois Schmidt, NRS, Willmar/Marshall

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