For public school teacher Cristina Caberos Yohannan, obtaining her U.S. citizenship is a story deserving a chapter in her book.
“It will be the next chapter of my story in my book,” said Yohannan, an outstanding teacher at San Vicente Elementary School shortly after she and 18 others were sworn in as the newest U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Friday.
The teacher, who is from Ormoc, Philippines, said her citizenship allows her to now participate in choosing political leaders.
“I want leaders that really do their best for the people,” she said.
For 57-year-old Kazuaki Nishida of Japan, he is excited to have finally obtained his citizenship.
“I like this country,” said Nishida, who is currently director for sales and marketing at Fiesta Resort and Spa.
Nishida stayed in the U.S. mainland for 27 years, and Guam for 11 years. He’s been on Saipan for over a year now.
For Rowena Tapal Wesley, of Manila, Philippines, citizenship means good employment opportunities. Wesley, 32, said it will now be easier for her to travel and find a job.
Wesley first came to Saipan in 2005 as an administrative assistant for Asia Pacific. She is currently a travel agent at the Pacific Sky Travel Agency. She and husband, federal court jury administrator Timothy V. Wesley, have one child.
Ki Arm Ham, 74, and his wife, Young Ok Hong Ham, 68, both from South Korea, said they feel good and happy with their citizenship.
Ki Arm Ham said he first came to Saipan in 1981 then his wife followed him a year later. They opened an auto repair shop, which shut down five years ago.
Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy conducted the naturalization ceremony. U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona also joined in the ceremony.
CNMI Bar Association president Maya Kara served as the guest speaker of the event.
Aside from Yohannan, Nishida, Wesley, and the Ham couple, the 14 other newest citizens are Samson Torno Batara, Alma Dolores Ng Berki, Maria Theresa Magaling Camacho, Girlie Grace Tiongson Figueroa, Masaji Harada, Garmen Grace Hasselback, Jasmine Hernandez Matsumoto, Hiuyun Zhu Hocog, Reyne Niedo Justo, Consolacion Dena Masga, Emily Siobal Reyes, Gina Maligson Sasakura, Virgina Glaser Sikayun, and Taufagavao Warren.
Immigration Services officer Diane Zedde presented the new citizens, who are from the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Western Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, and China.