Naturalization Ceremony at BGSU

36 immigrants take oath to join the ranks of Americans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ping Liu came to the United States 16 years ago from southern China. In the intervening year, she’s come to love her adopted home, and on Monday she sealed that by becoming a citizen. Now she wants to use her new power as a citizen to insure the openness to immigrants that she experienced is maintained. Ping, who has studied for a Master’s in Business Administration program at Bowling Green State University, was one of 36 immigrants from 20 countries from four continents who became citizens at the Naturalization Ceremony hosted by BGSU. As U.S. District Judge James R. Knepp told them: “You don’t just live here, now you own the place.” Liu, who is a senior development engineer in research and development at First Solar, said that the United States gave her, her husband, and her son, himself a newly naturalized citizen who studies at Ohio State, a chance to advance their educations. Both Liu and her husband came to study for doctorates at Michigan State. Liu said she’d already worked for about eight years in industry in China before she arrived not long before the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She worked in Arizona after getting her PhD before returning to the region to work first at Owens-Illinois and now at First Solar. “In this country, there’s a lot of opportunity and they’re open to foreigners,” she said before the ceremony. “Those are the two sides we appreciate a lot.” Still she’s seen in the last year more negativity toward immigrants. “I can see that the atmosphere not as open.” She’s not experienced that herself, but she’s read the reports of “discrimination and tragedy” and seen the comments on social media. That has her concerned, and though she’s not that interested in politics, she will use her new citizenship to see that others have the opportunity her family has had. “I love this country, and I benefit a lot,” she said. “It provides opportunity for foreigners.” Her travels around the world make her appreciate what the United States has to offer. Liu also understands what immigrants contribute to this country.  “That’s why America can grow, when we work and contribute our talents. In my work, I can help resolve problems and can help industry grow.” U.S. District Judge Sarah Lioi, who presided over the ceremony with Knepp, echoed those sentiments. “It is the energy that you bring and that other immigrants have that  … makes our country strong.” Danijela Tomic, the BGSU women’s volleyball coach, spoke about her journey to becoming an American, and the lengthy process she and others have to go through to earn citizenship. She arrived in the United States in 1995 to play volleyball at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. She didn’t know any English, but she knew volleyball. She grew up in what was then Yugoslavia, but in the 1990s the country dissolved in a brutal Civil War. She was living in Croatia before she emigrated. And just 57 days ago she took her oath of citizenship at a ceremony held at the University of Toledo. Just last week, she said, she cast her first vote. (She admitted she could have voted in local and state elections as a permanent resident, but didn’t learn this until she discovered it…