Lwin Aye Ngwe, both an English as a Second Language (ESL) student and substitute cleaner for TST BOCES, received her U.S. Citizenship at the Cortland County Courthouse on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
The ceremony was presided over by Judge Phillip Rumsey of Cortland and Richard Bessette of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Amy Dickinson was the guest speaker offering a message of thanks and respect for the new citizens.
“We are extremely proud that Lwin Aye was able to reach this milestone,” said ESL coordinator Julie Coulombe. “Applicants for U.S. citizenship must be U.S. permanent legal residents for five years before they go through a rigorous, costly application process which culminates in an oral exam about U.S. history, government and civics before being granted citizenship.”
Lwin Aye came to the U.S. as a refugee from Burma where decades of war and political strife have forced three million Burmese, mostly ethnic minorities, to seek refuge in neighboring Thailand. Lwin Aye lived seven years in a refugee camp with her husband and four young children before going through another lengthy vetting process to come to the U.S.
Lwin Aye misses her homeland but she is happy to be settled in a place like Ithaca where she says people have been friendly and helpful to her. She has hopes that her children will excel in school and go to college, and that she herself will be able to find full-time work in the field of farming or agriculture.