Citizenship Stories 2017: Sophie

“The freedom to go wherever you go”

Sophie’s journey towards US citizenship is a unique one. Her story begins in Senegal, where Sophie worked as a Financial Specialist Accountant for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As she describes, “For 29+ years I’ve been with the Americans. There is a possibility there, under the US mission in Senegal, the USAID, the US embassy, the Peace Corps, those little agencies like USAID: if you spend 20 years of loyal service […] you are able to get […] your green card.”

After working for USAID for nearly 30 years, Sophie decided to take advantage of that opportunity and apply for a green card for herself and her husband. Her daughters, two of who were living and studying in the United States already, motivated Sophie to begin the journey towards US citizenship. “That’s basically the first reason, to be able to reunite with the kids, and on top of that, me knowing the Americans. It’s like continuing the journey.”

In addition to her daughters in Boston and Miami, Sophie also has a son in Paris and a son in Senegal. With her new status as citizen, Sophie has found increased flexibility in balancing time spent with each of her children. “Being reunited as the parents, we know, we also have other kids over there, but with the green card you have the opportunity to stay six months here six months there, going back and forth. […] Being a citizen will allow us to stay longer if we want in Senegal, and not be forced to come back. Before, it was 6 months there. Now, it’s under your control. You can stay however long you want, either here or there.”

On top of her new travel flexibility, Sophie is also looking forward to participating in the US political system. As a citizen, Sophie will now be able to vote and apply for government jobs. “I know that I am really interested in the political system. Being able to vote, being able to participate in the political process is an important thing.” While she is very excited to fully immerse herself in the United States’ democracy, Sophie admits that what she is most looking forward to is her new freedom to travel. “What I enjoy most is the freedom of going around wherever you go without being limited by the time or by the process. This is freedom.”

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