There are two ways to become an American citizen: be born in the U.S. or go through a 10-step naturalization process that culminates in a citizenship test and naturalization ceremony.
While most Americans haven’t attended a citizenship ceremony, hundreds of Boise State students have. For the past five semesters, the Boise State course University Foundations 100: Navigating Identity has hosted a naturalization ceremony on campus, giving students a unique opportunity to witness a pivotal event in the lives of these new Americans.
The most recent ceremony took place Nov. 1 at the Special Events Center. In attendance were 40 new U.S. citizens from 15 countries. Their accomplishment was celebrated by family, friends and more than 150 Boise State students. It also was covered by the Boise Weekly.
“You are born into some identities,” said UF 100 instructor John Ysursa. “You choose other identities.”
Campus naturalization ceremonies allow Boise State students, most of whom are born U.S. citizens, to witness and participate in a key moment in the formation of “chosen” citizens. What does that difference mean? That question and other complex questions about citizenship and identity are critically examined by UF 100 students each semester.
This semester’s naturalization ceremony address was given by UF 100 instructor Peter Mullner, a distinguished professor of materials science and engineering. Mullner and his family immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland; he became a U.S. citizen in 2014.
“At some time, us or our ancestors left the old ways and loved ones behind to come to America to start a new life, to build something new. And as it was then, so it is today: America was and is built by immigrants. America was shaped and re-shaped by the people that came here. The ongoing re-forming is evident even here in Boise,” he said.
“Immigrants invest, immigrants take on risk and immigrants build up. What ideas, traditions, plans and projects do you bring to Boise? You are important. Your story is important. Your plans and projects are important. Boise needs you. We need you. Boise is a great place to live. Thank you for choosing Boise. Thank you, thank you, thank you for committing yourself today to the United States.”