JC students learn the ropes while helping out

Moses Glay, left, and his son Anthony Glay, a new U.S. citizen, second from left, talk to students and answer questions about becoming a U.S. citizen. Students in Melanie Fraga’s English for Speakers of Other Languages class made cards to congratulate the new citizens. From right, Charles Asare, Faith Marah, Naomi Kerkula and Merveille Kumeso welcome Moses, who was naturalized four years ago, and Anthony, who was naturalized Thursday. Students from Jefferson City High School sponsored Thursday’s reception in the atrium.

Moses Glay, left, and his son Anthony Glay, a new U.S. citizen, second from left, talk to students and answer questions about becoming a U.S. citizen. Students in Melanie Fraga’s English for Speakers of Other Languages class made cards to congratulate the new citizens. From right, Charles Asare, Faith Marah, Naomi Kerkula and Merveille Kumeso welcome Moses, who was naturalized four years ago, and Anthony, who was naturalized Thursday. Students from Jefferson City High School sponsored Thursday’s reception in the atrium. Photo by Julie Smith.

Thursday’s naturalization ceremony served as a real-world civics lesson for the Jefferson City students who attended.

Melanie Fraga, who teaches ESOL or English for Speakers of Other Languages, brought her students to serve as ambassadors and witnesses.

“I have a few students at JC who are eligible to become citizens, but have not been shown the steps,” she said. “Other students will be eligible soon. I want all our English learners — even those who are natural-born citizens — to become knowledgeable about the specific rights and privileges American citizens have, to help instill a sense of belonging.”

She also wanted them to realize how attainable citizenship can be, and see how the process works so they can take the required civics and English tests some day.

“Hopefully (this will) help bring a distant dream closer to reality for them,” she said.

Charles Asare, 18, is one of those dreamers.

Asare moved to Jefferson City from Ghana in February 2013 to join his father, who has lived in the states 17 years. He applied for permanent residency two weeks after he arrived.

“It was the first time I met my dad,” he said.

Asare — who served as an ambassador — aspires to be an American businessman one day.

Becoming an American is like “gaining independence,” he said. “It’s the U.S. You want to be a part of it.”

Adding a touch of grace, the Jefferson City High School Orchestra and Chorale performed “American the Beautiful” and “National Anthem.”

Singers Aubreanna Belding and Courtney Kolb watched the ceremony from backstage and found the event exciting.

“I just loved how happy everyone looked,” Kolb said.

“We take our country for granted,” Belding added. “It made me realize we should have a lot more appreciation for our country.”

Companion article:

Red, white and new: Varied paths lead to naturalization ceremony

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