UAFS Professor Speaks at US Naturalization Ceremony
For more than 100 years, the Statue of Liberty has been a beacon of freedom and hope. A plaque with the sonnet “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus sits inside with a quote almost as famous as Lady Liberty herself, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Both are a symbol and message for those hoping for a better life, more opportunity, and freedoms that may not be afforded elsewhere.
As individuals immigrate to the United States in search of something new, becoming a citizen involves being naturalized. That occurred on Friday, March 18, at the Sebastian County Federal Courthouse.
Nearly two dozen people representing 16 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in front of family and friends. Among those present to lend well wishes to the newly naturalized was University of Arkansas – Fort Smith associate professor of history, social sciences, and philosophy Williams Yamkam, Ph.D.
Dr. Yamkam was honored to be named the ceremony’s guest speaker by the Honorable Mark Ford, who praised Yamkam’s work on the UAFS campus through the Democracy Project and his journey to the United States from his home country, Cameroon.
“I got to relive my experiences and see myself in the shoes of those individuals,” said Yamkam.
As he spoke to those being naturalized, he praised the group of individuals for their hard work, dedication, and bravery.
“It’s a tedious, cumbersome process. Sometimes out of necessity, but to some, it’s a personal decision,” he explained. “For those who have gone through the process, it’s a testament to them wanting to embrace this new country, this new Republic, and this new identity.”
The United States is known for being a melting pot of culture, ethnicity, race, and religion, but Yamkam believes it is best to look at it as a mosaic instead.
“E pluribus unum, it’s on all our coins. It means ‘out of many,’ and with all the different nationalities, we form one nation, and that nation is a group of individuals aspiring to a common future,” said Yamkam with a smile.