I am making a color copy of my green card because next week I will be giving it up at my swearing-in ceremony. Legally, I will no longer be a resident alien.
The test and interview was strange. The immigration officer was very kind, and he even laughed at my own silly attempts to ease my own nervousness by pretending to be funny. I answered the first six questions correctly so there was no opportunity to throw in a snarky answer.
Here are my six questions and answers:
- What is the national anthem? The Star Spangled Banner. You aren’t going to make me sing it, right?
- What is the “rule of law”? No one is above the law.
- What is the ocean on the West Coast of the United States? Really? The Pacific Ocean.
- Why does the flag have 13 stripes? Because they represent the original 13 colonies.
- What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States. Terrorists attack the U.S.
- How old do citizens have to be to vote for President? 18.
I was asked a series of questions related to my original application and then came the English proficiency test. I had to read the sentence “What is the largest state?” and the write the sentence “Alaska is the largest state.” I had to swallow a chuckle as I briefly thought of inserting an accent just for fun or critiquing my penmanship, but I caught myself. This really isn’t funny. It’s funny for me because I take for granted my language skills and understanding and retention of basic civics just like any American-born American who never has to worry about having their language skills or loyalty questioned. It wasn’t funny for the older gentleman who left knowing his process would have to wait for another chance to prove proficiency.
I passed the test, and walked out of the interview area one step closer to becoming an American,The waiting room had filled up since I had left it. The DHS employee kept yelling instructions as if speaking louder would make her English more understandable to OTHER HOPEFUL IMMIGRANTS. Even though I found her volume annoying she always added “Good luck!” to the end of her instructions. In the background you could hear CNN’s coverage of the situation in Haiti – a woman had been rescued from the rubble one week after the earthquake and orphans had arrived safely in Philadelphia (“F” is finally with her family!).
There was a lot of hope in that room.
I spent some more time waiting, and then my name along with a list of others were mercilessly butchered. I felt sorry for that man whose job set him up for failure. We had all passed and received an invitation to our final step – Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.
Next Tuesday I will finally say goodbye to my green card and be sworn in as an American.
As my dad later commented, “It took only 40 years.” Almost.
And for those who might wonder if a person like me can ever have fun, I did notice at the bottom of the form it read:
“Proper attire should be worn.”