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Fifteen nations on five continents are represented by the 29 new U.S. citizens who took their oaths at a ceremony in Beaverton

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Ferdinand Rojo, center, takes the oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at Beaverton City Library.Danh Nguyen of Portland was one of 29 people from five continents who took their oaths as newly minted citizens of the United States.

"I feel happy, very happy," he said after the ceremony Tuesday at the Beaverton City Library. "Today is an important day for me."

With him was his wife, Van — who is on track for U.S. citizenship next year — and their daughter, Phuong. They came from Vietnam about six years ago.

"My family are becoming U.S. citizens," Phuong said. "We are happy about that."

Nations represented in addition to Vietnam were Australia, Croatia, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Moldova, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Somalia and Ukraine. Mexico accounted for the largest number at six.

Richard Miller, Portland field office director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, administered the oaths.

"Together we are a nation united not by any one culture or ethnicity or ideology, but by the principles of opportunity, equality and liberty that are enshrined in our founding documents," he said.

"You have the opportunity to enrich this country with your contributions to make the next new chapter in the history of the United States."PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kwabena Amofa of Ghana proudly displays his Certificate of Naturalization after a ceremony at Beaverton City Library.

Although Portland is where most public and in-office naturalization ceremonies take place in Oregon, Nguyen and 28 others — accompanied by family members and friends — came to the Beaverton City Library. Fifty new citizens took the oath April 11 at the Hillsboro Public Library, which also was the site of a ceremony in 2016.

Miller said other favorite locales for ceremonies are Crater Lake National Park, Fort Clatsop — part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park — Fort Vancouver and the former Astoria quarantine station. The latter two sites are actually across the Columbia River in Washington state.

Abigail Elder, library director for five years before she became director of the Mayor's Office a year ago, said Tuesday's ceremony was the third in Beaverton in recent years.

Current Library Director Glenn Ferdman said the ceremony was significant not only because the library is the site of citizenship classes, his own grandfather came to the United States 98 years ago.

Ferdman said: "I would like to think that my grandfather would be proud to know that I, his grandson, had been granted the opportunity to say a few words of welcome to a group of immigrants and new citizens, just like he was."

Mayor Denny Doyle said both his parents were immigrants — and Beaverton today is a city where one of every five people was born outside the United States and one of every three is someone other than a non-Hispanic white person.

"We are a welcoming city, recognized nationally for our efforts to build bridges across cultures," Doyle said.

"We are stronger because you are here. But we hope you will remember where you come from — and that you will share your culture, unique perspectives, innovation, entrepreneurship, involvement, food and many other things for all of us to enjoy and learn from."

Beaverton sponsors a Welcoming Week — Sept. 13-22 this year — and night markets on July 20 and Aug. 17.

The city also has a Diversity Advisory Board. One of its members is Oswaldo Bernal, who five years ago took part in a similar naturalization ceremony after coming from Colombia.

"It was a moment I waited for a long time. I worked so hard to get here," Bernal told the audience.

"The one thing we all have in common is that we came to this country looking for better opportunities. Those opportunities present themselves in different ways.

"What really matters is that we were able to fulfill those dreams. Now we have an opportunity to help others starting the process."

Bernal said citizenship goes beyond the right to vote, although he urged the new citizens to register to do so. He said participation is welcome, unlike the case in many of their homelands.

"My advice today is … try to get involved. Try to become active. It really doesn't take that much," he said. "It's a way for us to give back."

Doyle said afterward that most of the new citizens are better informed about U.S. government than some of their native-born counterparts.

"Citizens who were just sworn in have to take a test on American government — they get 100," Doyle said. "One of every five people in Oregon (in a recent public survey) does not know there are two U.S. senators. Think about that."

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