In celebration of National Adoption month, USCIS held a special adoption ceremony at the State Capitol on November 18th to honor the citizenship of 14 adopted children from Connecticut. The children, aged 2 to 12, come from countries as far away as China, Brazil, Haiti, India, Ghana and Russia. Guests were are entertained before the ceremony by a delightful clown, Valentine, who blew balloon animals for everyone. Even Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman joined in on the fun, playing limbo with a balloon stick and later, donning colorful patriotic balloon butterfly wings. She later congratulated the small crowd, telling the new young citizens, “You’re going to make this place the best place to live.” After hearing a stunning rendition of The National Anthem, U.S. Magistrate Donna Martinez, a mother of an adopted child (now grown) from Colombia, told her own story of her adoption journey. Today we celebrate another step in their journey. She commented that people often think that it is the children that are the lucky ones because they have been chosen, and though this is true she applauded the parents, reminded them that they too “are the lucky ones.”
Full disclosure. I’m an adopted child. I came to this country from Taiwan when I was only a month old. I became a citizen when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. I remember my parents brought me to a court house in Washington D.C. (we lived in Virginia at the time.) I remember the room filled with many people. My parents allowed me to stand on the chair, when the Pledge of Allegiance was said. I knew the Pledge because we said it in school. After that, I was told I was citizen, but I didn’t know what that meant. I told the story to a few children I saw at the ceremony. I told them how lucky they were, and I congratulated the parents. It is always rewarding to see Naturalization ceremonies, but to see a ceremony for adopted children is particularly special and meaningful for me. Not only do these special children continue the diversity that makes up the fabric of this nation, they validate reasons for which we decide to come to this country- for freedom, hope, and opportunity. Where would I be if I had not been adopted? Where would these little children be? Still in the orphanages for which they had been found? Celebrate National Adoption month and honor all the mothers and fathers for their strength and courage to follow their hearts and bring another child into their lives.
“Muslim Journeys on Film” screenings will be held on Tuesday, November 19 at 6:00pm and Tuesday, December 3 at 6:00pm in the Center for Contemporary Culture, Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street.
The facilitated series, which is free and open to all, is designed to promote cross-cultural exchange and understanding on the topic of: Muslim Worlds.
Koran by Heart: One Chance to Remember
(90 minutes) Center for Contemporary Culture
Every year over a hundred young people from 70 countries across the Islamic world arrive in Cairo to compete in the world’s oldest and most prestigious Koran reciting contest – the International Holy Koran competition. Follow three 10-year-old scholars, a girl and two boys, as they leave their countries to compete. Facilitators: Dr. Feryal Salem, Hartford Seminary, Assistant Professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law and Janet Bauer, Trinity College, Associate Professor of International Studies
Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World
(90 minutes) Center for Contemporary Culture
Explores the richness of Islamic art from great palaces and mosques to the exquisite beauty of ceramics, carved boxes, paintings and metal work. Nine countries are featured, including Turkey, Spain, Mali, spanning 1,400 years of artistic heritage. Facilitators: Aida Mansoor, Muslim Coalition of CT and Janet Bauer, Trinity College, Associate Professor of International Studies
RSVP suggested (860) 695-6334 or by email: email@example.com
September 17th is Citizenship Day! We’re celebrating with thirty candidates who will become citizens of the United States in a naturalization ceremony at Hartford City Hall. We’re also celebrating National Welcoming Week (Sept 15-22), a week where we all highlight the contributions made in our communities by immigrants.
All are welcome to attend the ceremony and witness this momentous occasion, from 11:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on September 17th in the Atrium of Hartford City Hall, 550 Main Street.
Music and remarks will be part of the agenda as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services presents 30 candidates for U.S. citizenship. The Honorable Donna F. Martinez, United States Magistrate Judge, will administer the Oath of Allegiance to America’s newest citizens, who hail from many countries.
HPL CEO Matthew K. Poland will provide the Naturalization Ceremony’s opening remarks, while keynote remarks will be made by the Honorable Pedro Segarra, Mayor of Hartford.
Special elements of the September 17 ceremony also will include a presentation of the nation’s colors by the First Company Governor’s Foot Guard; students of the Library’s citizenship education program leading the Pledge of Allegiance; and performances by Tom Rotchford and The Mariachi Band / Los Tovardores de America.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 860-695-6334
This summer our ESL/Citizenship classes took another trip, this time to Boston, MA. Here we explored the Freedom Trail, USS Constitution, and Quincy Market. We took a guided walking tour along the Freedom Trail. We saw the Old South Meeting House, Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre. We also explored the USS Constitution. The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest naval vessel afloat. Students were in awe to see this. For many, it was their first time being on a ship like this. They did not realize these ships still existed. It was truly a new experience for them. At Quincy Market the students were met with the sights, sounds and scents of Boston. Food, shops and street performers were all around. Our students grabbed some food and watched the entertainment of street performers while we waited for our tour to begin. At the very end of our outing mother nature decided it was time for a downpour. Despite the rain, the students had an amazing time, enjoyed every minute and were very grateful.
This August marked this blog’s 1 year anniversary. Hooray! In July there is an ESL/Citizenship class trip to the 9/11 Memorial and the Museum of Native American History. That is where we began last year and where I begin today. As I noted last year, for some students, this was their first time in NYC. The shock and awe at seeing “the Big Apple” in person for the first time is truly a sight to see. Some of our students were repeat visitors from last years trip. For those students, they noticed the changes that had taken place at the memorial over the last year. The Freedom Tower which was still under construction last year was completed this year. It is still not open but the major construction on the exterior of the building is done. They felt more confident when walking throughout the city. It was a bolstering hot July day and this group of 45 people had a great day exploring NYC and learning about the rich history and culture of America.
|The Bharatis with seed packets in hand|
Contributor: April Adams
|Nailah with Nancy Caddigan,
Intercultural Liaison at HPL
Nimrah, the second oldest is next to talk to me. Like her older brother, she too feels prepared and like him, she has struggled with some of the Constitution questions. I admit to her that they’re not so easy. The two older children did not benefit from going to high school in America so, unlike their younger siblings who went to high school here, the
subject of American government is not as familiar. Despite this, the family has remained close through this process, helping each other to stud, attending citizenship classes at the library together on Saturdays, and quizzing each other relentlessly.
Nailah, the matriarch of the family, has walked a long road to arrive to today. Knowing her English skills were not at the level of the rest of her family, she began attending English classes at the library earlier in the year. She also connected with April, a Cultural Navigator at the library. Cultural Navigators can help new immigrants learn to adjust into American culture, gain access to city services, or in Nailah’s case, offer English literacy support. I ask her how she has liked working with April and she smiles, telling me that April has been very helpful to her and that she enjoys their relationship very much; she wants to continue working with her on her literacy skills. Nailah has been working persistently with April on the reading and writing section of the citizenship test, an area she felt would be the most difficult for her. In addition to her work with April, her devoted children have drilled her endlessly, giving her advice on how to handle questions. Mumiza explains, “I tell her ‘just don’t rush, listen to the key points’, and I remind her be careful and to make sure she understands the question before answering.” Her children are all committed to making sure their mother passes along with them. I love this about them.
Later, during the question and answer session, the panel was touting the benefits of technology. Earlier, people had talked about using Nintendo Wiis and iPads and no one needs to convince me of their worth, believe me. But when Homa talked about the value of the human touch. The American Place provides the human touch. Patrons come with all sorts of questions and needs, from the merely confused (and confusing!) to the serious and, sometimes, even the desperate. We give them whatever time and help we can. That’s part of the human touch. But the most important part is what they give us in return …..