Friday, the Peoria Public Library hosted the first of five naturalization ceremony’s in Peoria this year. Ninety people were sworn in and pledged allegiance in front of a crowded room full of supporters. As each new citizen walked across the stage and shook the hand of Judge Jonathan Hawley, smiles and tears filled their faces.
One group of supporters came to cheer for their friend “Steve.” His real name is Bao Shi. An immigrant from China, he came to the US in 2002. When he arrived he was 18 years old. He spent every day at school, and every night working in a restaurant. When asked what becoming a citizen means to him, he said, “I am so proud it’s happening today. Finally I took the step to be a US citizen..I’m happy now.”
Bao is now married and has four children with his wife Jin. They own Ginger Asian Bistro in Pekin, where they met the group of supporters waving flags for Bao as he crossed the stage today. It took almost two years to complete the naturalization process. But Bao says it’s well worth it. Now he can vote and speak his mind on important issues. He has a voice. “We work hard..trying to feed our family like all immigrants..Trying to give them a better life,” said Bao.
The remaining ceremonies this year are scheduled for:
May 17, 11:00 am at Peoria Public Library
July 19, 11:00 am at Peoria Public Library
September 20, 11:00 am at Peoria Public Library
November 15, 10:00 am & 2:00 pm at United States Federal Courthouse, Courtroom D