February 2011 (after a 6.3-earthquake)
I left Austin around 10am with my friends Anmar and Paola who I invited to join me on this day. I had to be at the Laurie Auditorium of Trinity University in San Antonio at 11:45am, and we got there around 11:55am. I had to form in line to present form N-445 with some additional information, regarding changes happening between the day of the interview and present time. Then a group of us were lead to the auditorium were they told us where were we going to sit. They asked us to remain in the same seats since the naturalization certificates were going to be given in order. They gave each of us and envelope containing all sort of instructions on how to issue the US passport, how to update our immigration status in the social security office, how to register to vote, etc…
Then we had to wait until 2pm for the ceremony to begin. The ceremony was coordinated by an immigration agent and officiated by a judge. A band from the military was also present, as well as a group of ladies that were daughters of world war veterans from both the democratic and republican parties.
The ceremony was simple. First the immigration agent gave us some numbers about the ceremony. We were 899 naturalization candidates, but 20 could not make it to the ceremony and we all came from 85 different countries. They called each of the 85 countries in alphabetical order, and we had to stand up and stay this way to do the Oath right after. Mexico was called last because there were about 300 of them. Other countries with large numbers were India (~50), China (~30) and Pakistan (~15). I think we were about 6 Colombians.
With everyone standing then the judge did the Oath and then spoke to us about what it meant to be a US citizen. Then two candidates who were selected to speak, came to the stage and told us about their journey of becoming US citizens. One of the speakers was a 20-something girl from China, who moved to the USA at the age of 14 and whose first meal was a Big Mac with Fries but no ketchup because she didn’t know how to ask for it in English. The other speaker was a Mexican guy in his 30’s who can to the US to study. Another person had also ask if he would be allowed to speak and they let him. He was Colombian and spoke really bad English. His speech went all over the place, he talked about how he had to leave his family behind to come to the USA, how Colombia was a beautiful place but offered no opportunities and was very violent, how the USA had “beautiful” laws and “beautiful” rights (apparently beautiful was the only adjective he knew), and he even went into telling us that one Christmas he got drunk on Aguardiente, but after that he promised not to drink again and he hasn’t done alcohol, cigarettes or drugs since then. His speech took forever (about 15 min) and at least 5 times were people started clapping to let him know he should end the speech now.
After that they showed some videos to us, that included a speech by JFK, pictures of war veterans, photos of different US locations and people, etc…
After that we went to River Walk and had a nice lunch at an italian restaurant.
Unfortunately traffic was horrible on the way back to Austin and it took us 2.5 hours when it usually only takes 1.5, so I was very tired when I got home.