COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There are 219 people from 54 countries who are now American citizens.
The naturalization ceremony happened at the Ohio Statehouse where family and friends watched as their loved ones can now call the U.S. home.
Even after the naturalization ceremony, Aref Monsf of Afghanistan said he is still learning how to become an American, but he said he is now happy and feels safer than he has in a long time.
“I worked for the U.S. military as an interpreter and translator in Afghanistan and it actually took me here,” said Monsef.
The husband and a father of two said his journey to the U.S. was anything but simple.
Monsef believed being an interpreter for the U.S. during the war in Afghanistan was the right thing to do, but found out that it came with a cost.
“I felt like I had to do something to help out my people and my community back in Afghanistan, and everybody realized I was the guy who helped the U.S. military and my life started to get threatened and stuff,” Monsef said.
Not only him, but also his family’s lives.
He knew he had to protect them and that meant leaving his home country.
It wasn’t until the end of the naturalization ceremony that Monsef could breathe a sigh of relief and begin his new life as an American citizen.
He said he’ll be proud to do one thing as an American.
“Just being able to vote, because that’s something I literally missed for the last couple of years,” Monsef said.
He heard of the horror stories about Afghans being in the U.S. and how difficult it would be for him to become a citizen. However, he never gave up and has learned this: “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what your background is, we’re all human beings and that’s all that matters to everyone here.”
Monsef was a nurse in Afghanistan and said since he moved here, he has been working for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
He said he felt lucky to work at one of the top hospitals in the nation, but he adds that today’s ceremony tops that feeling.
BELOW: Another new U.S. citizen, Mohamad Kamara, shares his story of becoming an American.