When Visalia author Elizabeth Hunter looked at the 958 souls sitting in front of her at the Fresno Convention Center last Tuesday (April 16), she conjured the possibility of more stories.
“As a writer, when I look out at this group of new citizens, I see not only people, I see stories,” said Hunter, whose books have sold more than 1 million copies. “Hundreds of stories from all parts of the world.
“Hundreds of voices that can tell inspiring tales of perseverance and determination.”
Hunter was the guest speaker at the month naturalization ceremony which saw people from 62 countries become U.S. citizens.
The author – who has written more than 30 books, including ‘Love Stories on 7th and Main’ and the ‘Elemental Legacy’ series – said the newly coined citizens had their own stories of “joys and sorrows, times of hardship and humor” as well as “many wonderful discoveries.”
Hunter was born in this country, but her ties to immigrants extend to her “sister of the heart” Angie, whose naturalization ceremony she attended. Also, her husband, David, is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Even he made sacrifices for the move, she said.
“He quickly caught on that my very rough Fahrenheit to Celsius descriptions of the Central California summer had greatly underestimated the actual heat involved,” said Hunter. “Luckily, he’s still here!”
Like other immigrants, her husband experienced the “ache of homesickness” and discover joy in “new family, friends and experiences.”
“I have been given a unique perspective on both the challenges of immigration and the joy and immense satisfaction it can bring,” said Hunter. “I’ve learned how much work and dedication it takes. I’ve been given a front-row seat to adjustment and awkwardness.
“I’ve seen the world turn upside down and the strength it takes to make sense of the unfamiliar.”
Hunter stressed the responsibilities of becoming a U.S. citizen.
“Becoming a citizen is an accomplishment. Being a citizen is the work of a lifetime,” she said.
Hunter encouraged the citizens to get involved in their children’s or grandchildren’s schools, volunteer for community events, invest in local businesses, join the chamber of commerce, and, vote in all elections.
“Our civic life will be better and stronger with your involvement,” said Hunter. “Thank you for making a new life here.”
The new citizens watched a video of President Donald J. Trump telling them “this is now your country.” He also suggested they get involved in their community.
Where they came from
1. México, 511; 2. India, 122; 3. Philippines, 75; 4. El Salvador, 27; 5. Thailand, 15. Also: Argentina, 1; Bolivia 1; Chile, 1; Colombia, 1; Guatemala, 5; Nicaragua, 4; Perú, 3; Venezuela, 1.