So, my naturalization oath ceremony is now history. I still have difficulty expressing my feelings about it. I feel there's a lot of emotional baggage attached to this subject, and in turn don't feel too comfortable blogging about all of my true feelings, or even writing a publishable piece about it. It is a great subject, however, that I think will be interesting to many.
The general belief by everyone is that naturalization is a dream for those obtaining it. All I can bring myself to say without too much difficulty is that it was not a dream for me to become a naturalized American citizen, as much as it was a logical step I felt I should take to open doors and opportunities for myself since I've spent 20 years of my life here. I appreciate what this step offers me for my future, so I'm not unappreciative of what I've received, which is truly the most any country can offer an outsider. I feel truly welcomed and I thank all those who congratulated me and went so far as to attend the 5-hour ceremony, and give me flowers to celebrate the day.
I'm looking forward to the chance to vote in this upcoming election, and I look forward to having an actual say in issues affecting me as a resident of Colorado and the United States of America. But truth be told, I don't feel any more American than I did before Wednesday, May 28 of 2008.
I am still me, an Iraqi living in the United States of America, keeping my heritage, language and culture alive no matter what a piece of paper says. But I am also someone who's lived over half of her life in Denver, Colorado, USA. I ended my elementary school career and moved onto middle and high school right here. I went to the prom, I went to college and made great friends who shared these moments in my life and still do today.
In a sense, I suppose I have been an American citizen these last 20 years. But having it on paper makes it a responsibility, rather than just something I naturally adapted into. They told us this at the ceremony after all 1800 of us were naturalized and sworn-in... they told us to never forget where we came from, or our heritage. They told us that our different backgrounds are the fabric of what this country is made of. I didn't need to be reminded of that, but it was good to hear it.