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Public library hosts naturalization ceremony

Paula Wissel
KNKX File Photo
Twenty-eight countries were represented at a citizenship ceremony at the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library on April 12, 2011.

For the first time, the Seattle Public Library was the venue for a naturalization ceremony.  Eighty-six people from twenty-eight countries were sworn in as American citizens.

Some had survived war or famine.  Others had left their homeland to follow family.  After receiving his certificate, Abdullah Polovina, from Bosnia, said it was an honor and a privilege to become a citizen.

"It’s about ending one journey and beginning another," he said.

Voting was on the mind of several former refugees, including Mohammed Baah.

“I want to have the chance to get my voice heard. I would like to be able to contribute to this country because it’s given so much to me,” he said.

Baah came to the United States with his family when civil war broke out in Sierra Leone in the 1990's.

Valerie Wonder, ESL and Liberacy Program Manager at the Seattle Public Library, came up with the idea of hosting a naturalization ceremony at the library.  She says it just makes sense.

"What a great image," she said. "People coming into the library, which we like to think of as the cornerstone of democracy, to become citizens.”

Wonder says it's surprising the library hasn't hosted the ceremony before given that several citizenship classes a week are held at the public library.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

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