Each year, the United States welcomes about 680,000 new citizens through naturalization ceremonies.
“We are all familiar with the identification of America as a melting pot, and a land built on immigration. At my ceremony, there were 23 people and 21 different countries represented. What a fabulous blend of world countries coming to America,” said Stuart Chittenden, who became a U.S. citizen on April 16.
Each person in a naturalization ceremony has a story about choosing U.S. citizenship.
Chittenden, whose wife was born a U.S. citizen, said he lived and worked in this country and wanted “taxation with representation.”
Mona Al-mugotir was 10 when she and her family fled from their native country.
“Basically, my family participated against the former leader in an uprising in 1990 in Iraq,” she said.
Saddam Hussein's government hunted and executed the participants. Al-mugotir's family fled in the middle of the night.
She and her family spent the next five years in a Saudi Arabian refugee camp.
The family applied to the United Nations for permanent relocation. In a random lottery, it was sent to the United States.
“We were lucky in that sense,” she said.
Al-mugotir and Chittenden, like other applicants for U.S. citizenship, took an oral test on history, civics and geography.
The questions come from a master list of 100. An applicant must answer six of 10 correctly.
Here is a sampling of questions. See how well you would do if you had to earn U.S. citizenship.
Note: If the quiz isn't showing up in your browser, click here.
Native country: India
Naturalized: 2010 at age 40
Test memories: naming a couple of U.S. holidays and a current senator from Nebraska
Why U.S. citizenship: He had been in the U.S. 15 years working in the technology field. He and his wife, Uma Sivakumar, had been in green card status five years. “At this point, both myself and my wife decided to take U.S. citizenship because our kids were U.S. citizens by birth” and we wanted to raise them here. “Also, we love traveling and a visa is not required with a U.S. passport for several countries.”
Employment: senior database administrator at Werner Enterprises
Dr. Kay-Uwe Wagner
Native country: Germany
Naturalized: 2005 at age 43
Test memories: what the stars and stripes stand for; “I do remember that I actually studied for it”
Why U.S. citizenship: “Essentially, I accepted a job at UNMC and I knew that I wanted to stay in the U.S.” Also, he and his wife, Ulrike, wanted to adopt children and knew it would be easier if they were citizens. The couple became naturalized citizens in the same ceremony.
Employment: professor at Eppley Institute for research in cancer and allied diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center
Native country: Albania
Naturalized: 2010 at age 18
Test memories: what the stars and stripes on the flag signify
Why U.S. citizenship: Gjoka was a minor child when she moved to the U.S. with her parents and two brothers after her mother got a green card in the U.S. lottery drawing. “We moved here to live here. So to make things easier for us, we decided to be citizens.”
Employment: bookkeeper for Mercury Contractors; will be a junior in accounting in September at the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Native country: England
Naturalized: April 16, 2013, at age 44
Test memories: “The (study) booklet was both entertaining and informative.” When he asked friends who were born U.S. citizens to name the five freedoms, only 50 percent could, he said
Employment: brand consultant for David Day and Associates
Native country: England
Naturalized: 1955 at age 20
Test memories: He does not remember a test and does not believe he was given one because he was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force
Why U.S. citizenship: His parents, both British citizens, were divorced and his mother lived in Baltimore. “I came over in 1951 on the Queen Mary by myself at age 16,” Goble said. He was an all-state soccer player for his Baltimore high school. He expected a college scholarship, but none came because he wasn't a U.S. citizen. A friend told him that military service was a fast track to citizenship. He joined the Air National Guard in Maryland and three months later went on active duty in the Air Force. His first sergeant arranged for and accompanied him to Cincinnati, where he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Goble lives in Bellevue.
Employment: retired but volunteers on the SAC Federal Credit Union board
Native country: Poland
Naturalized: 1999 at age 46
Test memories: “The test was very easy to pass”
Why U.S. citizenship: Polish friends in Omaha pushed him to apply for the U.S. lottery for citizenship. He did and his name was drawn.
Employment: associate professor of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience director, Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Core Facility at the University of Nebraska Medical Center