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Defense Language Institute hosts inaugural naturalization ceremony

MONTEREY, Calif. – Two faculty members from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center received their United States citizenship April 3, as part of the first ever naturalization ceremony held at DLIFLC.

“We hope there will be more such occasions in the future,” said DLIFLC Assistant Commandant Air Force Col. Laura Ryan, speaking before the ceremony started. Ryan continued her opening remarks by sharing a bit about each one of the faculty members about to be sworn in.

“The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has made it a priority to reach out to eligible immigrants who want to naturalize to United States citizenship,” said San Francisco District Director Robert Looney.

He also added, “We think it’s such an important step that it’s worth our effort to travel whatever distance is necessary to try to get to them, or to make it as convenient as possible.”

Looney administered the Oath of Allegiance to Dohee Koo and a Persian Farsi instructor, in the presence of family, friends, and DLIFLC colleagues. The two new citizens ended the ceremony by leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Although she began as a Korean language instructor ten years ago, Koo now works in Curriculum Development creating Korean language materials for the Global Language Online Support System.

"Before I became a citizen, I really didn’t think about my responsibility as a citizen, but while I was studying some citizenship materials, and I really thought about the founding values of this country and my responsibility as a citizen … I had to think about how I can contribute to this country,” said Koo.

The language instructor has been teaching at DLIFLC’s Persian Farsi School since 2010, and his wife joined him at the ceremony. Officials from USCIS offices in San Jose and San Francisco also held an outreach session at the Institute prior to the citizenship ceremony.

This outreach process allows people to meet with USCIS officers in an informal question-and-answer session, where they may inquire about citizenship or foreign adoption, for example.

Looney explained, “Outreach is an important step. It often is the first step in putting that seed into someone that citizenship is reachable and it can be accomplished with a little bit of effort.”

Following the official ceremony, representatives from U.S. Representative Sam Farr’s office, (D) 17th Congressional District of California, presented congressional certificates to the new citizens.

Story and photos by:

Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette, Strategic Communications

Photo 1: DLIFLC faculty members Sohee Koo and a Persian Farsi instructor take the Oath of Allegiance to become United States citizens, as part of the first naturalization ceremony hosted by DLIFLC, April 3, 2012. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette) (Released)     

Photo 2: DLIFLC Assistant Commandant Col. Laura Ryan congratulates newly sworn-in U.S. citizen and DLIFLC faculty member Sohee Koo, April 3, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette) (Released)

Photo 3: Brand new U.S. citizens and DLIFLC faculty members lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance as USCIS San Francisco District Director Robert Looney (left) looks on, April 3, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Doucette) (Released)

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