Today, LSSM’s Thawng Uk can proudly say, “I am an American.” The former refugee from Burma, now a refugee specialist in the Battle Creek office of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, took the oath of U.S. citizenship on Aug. 17, 2011, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thawng came to the United States in February 2005 with his mother, brother and sister. His father had arrived earlier and sponsored the rest of the family. Also becoming citizens with Thawng were his mother, Sang Kit, and his brother, Za Uk. The Honorable Ellen Carmody, United States Magistrate Judge (in photo, shaking Thawng’s hand), presided over the federal court proceedings and welcomed 78 new citizens from 37 countries.
There to witness the U.S. naturalization ceremony were Chris Cavanaugh (in photo with Thawng), manager of Refugee Services programs in the Grand Rapids and Battle Creek offices, and Dana Doll, refugee specialist in Grand Rapids.
Countries of origin represented at the naturalization ceremony Aug. 17, 2011: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Somalia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia.