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Chamber Welcomes New Citizens

Hispanic Business Committee meeting serves double purpose.

Suad Turkusil spent most of his life thus far dreaming about coming to America to enjoy a life most Americans take for granted.

Being able to keep food in a refrigerator, watching television, being able to vote, even driving a car were "luxuries" he envied.

"Everything in the U.S. is perfect," said the native of Bosnia.

After seven years of living in the United States, two of which were spent in Virginia, Turkusil became an official United States citizen last week.

"I think the U.S. is the best country in the world for immigrants to get jobs and opportunities for business," he said.

Turkusil and 25 other Northern Virginia residents were sworn in during the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce's Hispanic Business Meeting on May 25.

HELD AT COX COMMUNICATIONS, the swearing-in ceremony featured local and national keynote speakers including Anna Escobedo Cabral, United States Treasurer.

In addition, county and town officials and other business owners from the area came forward to congratulate the new citizens.

"I was sitting in your shoes four years ago," said Denia Lasso-Delgado, who moved to the United States from Panama.

Today Delgado is the sales and catering coordinator for the Embassy Suites Hotel at Dulles Airport.

Danny Vargas, president VARCom Solutions, a Herndon-based marketing and sales support company, was the emcee of the event.

A member of the chamber's Hispanic Business Committee, Vargas said it was always his dream to own his own business, something he has now achieved.

"The fact that this chamber is reaching out and recognizing the demographic changes in the community ... is commendable," said Cabral. "People who choose to make America their home are dedicated with their hearts."

Carlos Hugo Calderon, a Springfield resident who was sworn in, said he is excited to be an American because of all the rights and responsibilities that accompany citizenship.

"I am looking forward to the next major presidential elections and being able to vote in my first election," he said. "It's going to be a sign that I arrived."

Calderon said the citizenship test, which can be grueling for some, went better than expected.

"It was very easy," he said. "I prepared for it for quite some time expecting it to be longer."

IN ADDITION TO the United States Department of Homeland Security/Naturalization's administering of the Oath of Allegiance, the new citizens also received gifts from the chamber.

Using an American theme, the new citizens were given apple pies and a gift certificate to Joe's Hot Dog House on Lynn Street to celebrate their achievement.

Pat Williams, chairman of the Chamber, asked the new citizens to help "carry the multicultural momentum forward."

Thanking representatives in Herndon for the ceremony, Cabral said she was just as proud of the citizens before her as she was when her grandparents, who emigrated from Mexico, were sworn in.

"Everything you do from this moment forward," she said, "you are adding to the very fabric that makes this country great."

Explaining the Hispanic Business Committee's involvement, Vargas said he hoped the small business owners could serve as examples of hard work paid off.

"The reason we put this committee together tonight is to encourage you to go out and build relationships," he said.

As a worker in the maintenance industry, Turkusil said business and employment opportunities are some of the best things about the United States.

"It took 35 years for my dream," he said. "It's true now."