On Hatteberg’s People, those of us who were ‘born’ American citizens sometimes take our birthright for granted. Immigrants who become citizens don’t. Their road is too long and too hard not to know how important becoming a citizen of the United States is. Maria Newboles is one of those. She is a brand new citizen of this country, and she knows, perhaps even more than some of us, how important that is.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America –“
As dawn makes its morning appearance over a Catholic church, preschool teacher Maria Newboles class at St. Teresa’s Catholic Grade School begin their day, just as they always do.
“Beautiful, you did a great job today, just as you always do, thank you Manuel.”
“For me it’s just such a moving moment. That’s why we try to be very sacred and put it all together with prayer. Because both (the Pledge of Allegiance) and prayer are connected.”
“In the name of our Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.”
“I think we have been so blessed that we need to remember that every day.”
Maria is originally from Venezuela. She came to this country ten years ago hoping to become a citizen.”
“How can I explain that with words….it’s freedom…that little word ‘freedom’ means so much to me.”
Sponsored by a Catholic Priest, Maria lived in the rectory and attended school at Hutchinson Community College before earning a Bachelor’s degree at Wichita’s Newman University.
“No matter if you are brown, white, yellow, you are here for a reason and you can do so much for this great nation too.”
So last week, after ten years of work and prayer and thousands of dollars Maria became a U.S. citizen at a naturalization ceremony in Wichita.
“I left everything behind me. My mom, my dad, my nephews, my grandparents – I left everybody.”
So this school has been her family over the past decade. As a teacher here, St. Teresa’s Catholic Grade School has given her countless friends and students who she says have all blessed her life.
“It’s my mission right now.”
Following her naturalization ceremony, children wrote her notes of congratulations and most of the papers contained American flags.
While Maria worked to become a citizen, Kelly Newboles came into her life. They married and they have their first child. A child that helped Maria become a better teacher.
“Because in each child that I see, I now see my own daughter.”
“He has the whole world in his hands –“
So after ten years of work, Maria’s dream of citizenship and life in the US is a reality.
“So to all my fellow immigrants, don’t be afraid. Each one of us with our own accents, our own training, and with our own gift, we can give so much. But do it the right way! I believe in the right way….yes I do.”
“I think Mama is waiting for us.”
“I’ve been blessed!”
“See you tomorrow.”