Utah became a little more colorful and culturally rich Friday, as more than 100 people from around the world completed their journeys — some, that lasted a lifetime — and found their new home.
(A personal note: This journalist was honored to deliver the keynote address at Utah’s 2019 Citizenship Ceremony. I thought you might like to meet our newest American neighbors.)
THE CAPITOL COMES TO LIFE
More than 1,000 people gathered under the dome at the Utah State Capitol rotunda Friday morning. Among them, 119 immigrants from 44 countries, each of them, with a story of faith, hope, and perseverance.
The Capitol rotunda, filled with smiling faces, many of them wiping away tears of joy, as they took the oath of citizenship, and joined a nation of immigrants. Many of them came to escape religious persecution, political oppression, and violence. All of them came to start a new life, in a land of opportunity.
“I am very proud of this country. I am very proud of my children,” effused Helena Biggott, as she stood between her daughter and her son. The three of them made the trek from Colombia 20 years ago, when her adult children were 2 and 3 years old. They all expressed gratitude to be in America, and to be Americans.
“I am architect,” explained Helena, in her broken but clear English, “and I work in this country very well. I am very happy for that the United States opened their arms for our family.”
But not everyone in America has opened their arms and extended welcome to these immigrants. Son Adrian, a college graduate and financial advisor with a Salt Lake firm, says he has felt the sting of racism and nationalism in his new homeland.
“They just have this idea that everything that’s foreign may be bad,” Rodriguez says. “Most people that I’ve met that are immigrants, they want to come here and become an American, and become part of the country and help the country and strengthen the country, so that we can all be the greatest country that there is.”
Adrian says he tries to give back to his community and his country, through his profession, by teaching immigrants of modest means to save and invest their money.