Korean Student takes oath of American citizenship

An international student makes a bold transition to become an American citizen.



| Tomber Su/THE CHIMES

Ashley Donahue , Writer

Jayun Lee’s transition into adulthood came faster than that of most college freshmen. In addition to moving away from home at the age of 18, she also became an American citizen within the first five weeks of her time at Biola.

From Korea to California

Lee and her family lived in South Korea until she was five, when they moved to Northern California for her father’s job. Up until about a year ago, there was no problem maintaining their Korean citizenship. They had green cards because of her father’s work. About a year ago, Lee’s parents decided it was time to began the American citizenship application process. Because Lee had already turned 18, she had to go through the citizenship process on her own.

There are two major steps to gaining citizenship in the United States: the citizenship test and the oath of citizenship. Last summer, and three days before Lee’s scheduled test date, Lee’s parents informed her that they had signed her up for the test.

“It didn’t really hit me until I went to the office and the lady was asking me all these questions, and I realized that all this means I’m giving up my rights from Korea,” Lee said.

Taking on the test

Despite the fast-paced scheduling, Lee passed the test with flying colors. Her next step then was to take the oath, which she had scheduled for Sept. 23. In order to complete the oath, Lee had to return to San Francisco for four days.

“I had to miss journalism, pysch and English. All my teachers were really understanding and were all really excited and happy for me … it made it a lot easier,” Lee explained.

Even though she was only gone for four days, Lee said she missed Biola. It had already become home to her. In fact, her friends FaceTimed her every day, updating her on what was happening at school.

“That time … was really special for me because I got to see what the community was really like. You always hear about the community here and that the people here are always welcoming and open, but unless you’re actually here in this place, you don’t really know,” Lee said.

Lee’s roommate Soobin Baik strongly supported her through this process.

“I was excited for her, and I’ve been through the same thing, so I told her what it would be like. I left her notes before she left, like ‘good luck with your oath’ and ‘welcome back’ when she came back,” Baik said.

An independent oath

When she went to take her oath, the room she went into consisted of over 1,500 people of 107 different nationalities. They would call the name of a nation and individuals of that nation would stand up and take the oath.

“You don’t really expect that many different nationalities in one room. Everyone stood up and you could tell that they were proud of their own country but also really proud to become an American citizen,” Lee said.

Now that she is a U.S. citizen, she is most excited to make a difference through voting. Additionally, Lee explained that American citizens have more opportunities to travel than Korean citizens. Presently, Lee does not have a specific travel destination in mind, yet she’s open to where God may call her.

“There are some countries that Korean citizens can’t go into. Now that I have American citizenship that could benefit me if God calls me to missions,” Lee said.

Lee was thankful there was not too much cultural tension as she went through the process.

“I’ve grown up in a very Korean family: I’ve grown up around the food — we speak Korean at my house. I’m always immersed in what’s new and up-to-date in Korea. I don’t think that the fact that in becoming an American citizen I have to give up any of that or that part of me is gone but that I get to experience two different cultures now,” Lee stated.

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