TOPEKA, Kan. -- It was packed at the Brown v. Board of Education historic site. It was filled with families, friends, and music.
“I feel so excited,” new U.S. citizen Kenneth Kulemb said.
It’s a moment Kulemb has been looking forward to.
“I don’t know what to say,” Kulemb said. “I’ve been waiting for this day for 40-something years.”
Holding their new U.S. flags in hand, he and several others are no longer waiting.
“It’s so hard to put into words,” Kulemb said. “That’s everything I’ve been waiting for. I’m just too happy.”
Twenty-three countries were represented at this naturalization ceremony. As the 41 new U.S. citizens said the oath in front of close family and friends, the journey to get there can be long.
“I work in a public school nobody wanted to work in, so we had to work with all the tough kids, so we’ve been in this process for 14 years,” Kulemb said.
It can take time. Syed Jamal’s attorney said he was in the lengthy process of becoming a citizen before getting arrested.
“Rather than spend the energy on people who are not helping the nation, we’re going after people who are contributing to the nation,” Kulemb said.
Kulemb, the Ghana native and educator, said with the process, he can understand.
“It’s like you’re in limbo; you don’t know what would happen the next day,” he said. “If you’re not a citizen, any least mistake, you’re off.”
Immigration officials say it typically takes five years after getting your green card to even begin the U.S. Citizenship process.
“They do a few security and background checks and eventually that individual will come to an interview, and at that interview they’ll be tested on basic English, reading and writing and they’ll have to take a history and civics test,” US Citizenship and Immigrations Officer John King said.
For Kulemb, while it’s been a long-time coming, he’s ready.
“I just want to give back to the nation what this nation has given me,” Kulemb said.
Kulemb said the first thing he’s going to do is enjoy dinner with his wife and pray over the exciting day they’ve had.