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An Inspiring Spirit: A New Citizen, A Century Old

September 29, 2016
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Chun Chung with her friend, Judy Yee

Chun Oi Chung turned 99-years-old this year. But she considers something else more newsworthy: her brand new U.S. citizenship.

Chun became a citizen this month, and she couldn’t be happier about it.

In 1984, Chun came to the United States from China with a green card through her daughter’s petition. She enjoyed living in the U.S. and decided to stay, taking up residence close to her daughter and grandchildren near Union City, Calif.

At 99, Chun still lives there, now in an assisted living facility. Her family visits often. She only speaks Cantonese, so communicating with her must be done through an interpreter. Many days, an old family friend, Mrs. Yee, comes over to help with necessary conversations.

It was Mrs. Yee who convinced Chun to become a citizen, telling her about the process and the benefits of U.S. citizenship.

Before that, Chun had never received information about the naturalization process.

She completed her citizenship application with the help of Asian Pacific Islander (API) Legal Outreach, a New Americans Campaign partner.

“Just like many other lawful permanent residents (LPRs), Chun was unaware of the many benefits naturalization could offer her,” says Raheel Hayat, a supervising attorney at API Legal Outreach.

Raheel and other API Legal Outreach employees took Chun to her citizenship interview and her oath ceremony on Sept. 23.

“USCIS waived the English test for Chun because of her age,” says Raheel. “This made it easier for her to take the required steps.”

Chun Chung taking the Oath of Allegiance on Sept. 23
Chun Chung taking the Oath of Allegiance on Sept. 23

Nancy Wong, a staff attorney with the API Legal Outreach, attended Chun’s interview.

“Chun passed her exam with flying colors,” says Nancy. “At my request, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted an exception and graciously swore-in Chun on the same day as her exam. She’ll be 100 years old this January. In Chinese years, she is already 100. I’m very happy for her!”

Chun’s friends and neighbors at her assisted living facility she’s quite talkative. Despite any language barriers, Chun can make herself understood, even to those who don’t speak her language.

Although she suffers from arthritis, Chun’s in good health and she goes to church most weeks with a group of ladies from the community.

“I love to talk, love to be heard, and love to be involved in society,” says Chun. “I plan to vote in the presidential election this year. Now that I’m a U.S. citizen, nothing can stop me from being heard!”