New US citizens sworn in at Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge
STOCKBRIDGE -- If the American painter Norman Rockwell were alive today, Kashan Qamar Khan and his father, Muhammad Qamar Khan, would have made fine candidates for his next art piece.
Dressed in black suits, surrounded by their family on Saturday, they joined 24 other immigrants as the newest U.S. citizens in Massachusetts. The Pakistani natives moved to Malaysia and then to the United States five years ago.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, at the Norman Rockwell Museum, a site brimming with artwork that personifies the American journey, each received their certificates of citizenship from Berkshire District Court Judge Fredric Rutberg.
After completing their ceremonial duties, including repeating the Oath of Allegiance, the Khans, of Worcester, mingled leisurely on the outdoor patio.
Kashan, 23, raised a fist in triumph and said he came to the United States for "the American dream, the economic opportunity."
Kashan, a recent graduate, from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst earned his degree in mechanical engineering in May. He has a green card, but he recalls attending college job fairs and said he couldn't apply to 90 percent of them because the U.S. government won't hire anyone who isn't a citizen.
Now, he can apply for any job he wants, and is looking into the defense industry businesses in California.
His father, Muhammad, 52, was an anesthesiologist in Pakistan, but left his career behind when he immigrated to Malaysia and then the again in the U.S., to allow his children to live out their potential.
"I took that risk," he said. "Although the odds of success, and family and friends say if you leave you'll lose this and that, I followed that phrase, ‘No risk, no gain.' "
The ceremony, organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Berkshire Immigrant Center, naturalized immigrants from five different continents and 19 countries including Belize, the Ivory Coast, Finland, Ghana Honduras and India. Siddeeque Sheikh, 88, of Pakistan, who now lives in Lee, was the eldest of the group.
Some of these immigrants have waited five years, some a lot longer, said Hilary Greene, executive director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.
During the ceremony Norman Rockwell's Museum Director Laurie Norton Moffat pointed out Rockwell's paintings. The paintings highlighted four in particular, "Freedom from Fear," "Freedom of Speech," "Freedom of Worship," "Freedom from Want."
The ceremonies, which began last year, are scheduled to take place twice each year at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
To reach John Sakata:
On Twitter: @JSakata