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[box type=”default” size=”large”] NaFFAA-Michigan hosts oath rites held at PACCM [/box]“My family, like so many before and like all of you, sought the great privileges and responsibilities that come with being an American citizen. Each of you represents a different culture, perhaps a different language. But each of you is now an American. It is this diversity, this uniqueness that is the strength of this great country.”

This was the core message of Attorney Rona Lum when she delivered a speech before 40 immigrants from various countries who took their oath of American citizenship at ceremonies held on Feb. 18, 2014 at the Philippine Cultural Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) represented by Detroit station chief Douglas Pierce conducted the ceremonies in collaboration with the Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA-Michigan) headed by Chairperson Willie Dechavez.

The oath of citizenship was administered by Honorable David R. Grand, magistrate judge of the Eastern District of Michigan.

Attorney Lum, who was born in Hawaii and whose grandparents migrated from Okinawa, Japan to the US over 100 years ago, told the new American citizens that her grandparents “taught my parents how to persevere in the face of adversity – to work hard and get a good education.”

“These values, intrinsic to the American dream,” she said, “were also passed on to my generation and succeeding generations. Since my grandparents’ immigration to the US 100 years ago, we have found many opportunities in this great country to live the American dream.”

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Lum, who finished her law at the Michigan State University and who specializes in immigration law, also said, “Being an American gives you great power, and with this great power comes great responsibility. Be an active participant in our democracy. America needs your fresh ideas and perspectives.”

Paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi, she added, “Be the change that you want to see in America.”

Judge Grand, who delivered a remark before he swore in the new citizens, also talked about the unlimited opportunities for growth and prosperity in the US.

He related the success story of a Turkish immigrant who started a yogurt-making business five years ago. His business was so successful that in its fifth year of operations, it chalked up sales of $5 billion.

USCIS Station Chief Pierce advised the new citizens not to laminate their certificates of citizenship, saying this would destroy it instead of preserving it.

It was noted that 13 of the new citizens came from Iraq. There was no Filipino among those who took their citizenship oath.

NaFFAA-Michigan provided the snack for the oath takers and the guests. The NaFFAA volunteers who brought the food and set up the table were Fe San Agustin, Sofy Bole and Amy Risvold.