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How a Violinist and a Poet, on Opposite Coasts, Celebrated Their New U.S. Citizenship

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To mark Constitution Week 2014, USCIS welcomed more than 27,000 new citizens in more than 160 naturalization ceremonies held nationwide Sept. 17-23.

Each person’s story adds a unique thread to the fabric of our country. In the case of Augustin Hadelich, it adds a set of violin strings. The 30-year-old virtuoso became a U.S. citizen in New York City on Sept. 17.

 Augustin Hadelich playing at his ceremony
Hadelich has performed in hundreds of concerts around the world. But his rendition of “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony stood out. It was his first performance as an American, and he told reporters that “I definitely won’t forget” the occasion: “What that song means for everybody, it’s very special.”
He began playing the violin as a young boy in Tuscany, Italy. “My older brothers were already making music, so my father started taking me to other teachers, many of which were German. By the time I was 9 or 10 years old, we were making frequent trips to Germany, perhaps once a month, and I had also started to play my first performances,” he tells us.
When he was 15, he suffered devastating injuries in a fire at his parents’ Tuscany farm. He was burned on a large portion of his upper body, including his face and right arm – his bow arm. Yet he overcame his injuries, and just four years later was accepted to the Juilliard School in Manhattan.
“I came to the United States in the fall of 2004 to study violin. I was immediately struck by how open, welcoming and tolerant this country is,” he says. “Becoming a citizen for me is a milestone for my life and work here in the United States, looking backward as well as into the future.”
Carlos Jainga is an artist of a different sort who also became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 17, along with his wife, Estrella. The Filipino couple were naturalized in a ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center. He was so overcome with emotion that he immediately penned a poem for local USCIS staff, explaining to Public Affairs Officer Claire Nicholson that he’s a poet in his free time.

Carlos Jainga and his wife, Estrella

Postscript on Citizenship Day

They came
in different colors,
white, black, brown
in monochromatic skin colors.
They came
in different sizes
small, medium, large
in different heights, short or tall.
They came
from different countries
in alphabetical acronym,
representing all nationalities.
They came
converging in one
convention center, drawn
by the power of citizenship.
They came
to become part of USA,
and live the immutable truth
ingrained in the motto, “E pluribus unum.”

Carlos Jainga’s poem – republished here with his permission -- celebrates the realization of the American dream for so many who now call the USA home.