Monday, October 20, 2008

Becoming an American

I can't help but feel choked up. Today, one of my dearest friends will become a citizen of the United States.

I first met Luisa Fernanda Garcia de Rico when we worked together at Nalco. She transferred from Nalco Columbia to take a position in our Corporate Training department, and her cubicle was next to mine. Her accent captivated me, and we became friends. I taught her colloquial English. She taught about Celia Cruz and guacamole and the lush beauty of her homeland. We taught each other how to laugh.

On our lunch breaks back then, a bunch of us would sit together and oftentimes she would ask us to translate something. I will never forget the day she looked at me and said, "Maggie, what is the word for when you peel a sheep?"

She meant shear. It still cracks me up.

That was years ago. Since then, she has met and married the man of her dreams, grown into an even more beautiful woman, given birth to two beautiful boys and supported me through some of the roughest times of my life. And today she will take an oath and become an American citizen. That's not to say that she doesn't love her country of Colombia; no, I believe she will always feel the pull of her birthplace. But her life is here now. Unlike most of us, she has chosen to be an American. She has chosen us, with our flaws and confusion, our wars and our declining economy. May her belief in our country inspire us all.

Welcome, mi hermana. We're glad you're here.

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