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Stories of new U.S. citizens: Didier Kindidi's ceremony was in Baltimore

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

To celebrate the Fourth of July, we asked newly naturalized citizens about what it means for them to be an American.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

I love these stories. Our producer, Kaity Kline, attended a naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, and she met a man from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Didier Unsumi Kindidi (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

DIDIER KINDIDI: Hi. My name is Didier Kindidi. I'm from Congo. I came here in 2016. I lived in Seattle for four years and moved to Maryland in 2019. I went to school in my home country, and I just feel like I can learn more visiting a other country. So and - the U.S. was kind of my main goal. First, I was trying to apply for one of the university in Seattle, and then I got opportunity to travel as an immigrant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERTO BERROCAL'S "RELAXING PATRIOTIC PIANO MUSIC")

KINDIDI: I think the way we see America from outside the world, it just make you want to go and try. So I grew up around, like, all the American music, movies. I know America is a land of opportunity, so I knew for sure I would get more opportunity here than my home country because of the advance of the technology and also the job market.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERTO BERROCAL'S "RELAXING PATRIOTIC PIANO MUSIC")

KINDIDI: My first year, I was like - I was really struggling. I even decided a couple of times to go back. I went back a couple years. And I was like, no, I have to push myself. And I'm kind of the first of my family living outside, on North America, so this was quite difficult with the system, the culture, everything, the language - because I have a background of French, so I have to start learning first the English language and all that.

It was quite difficult because not only I have nobody to guide me - you know, to go to A, B, C process - so I have to find out everything on my own. Luckily, I have a little bit of knowledge on the technology, so everything - I was just going through Google. The little English I can speak right now - I did not learn it from school. I just learned it from music and, you know, movies and everything, just to be more familiar with the American culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERTO BERROCAL'S "RELAXING PATRIOTIC PIANO MUSIC")

KINDIDI: In Seattle, I think I found myself with a really good community. So those kind of community in school helped me out to not feel alone. One of the goal of mine was to work government contractor or company, and to not be a U.S. citizen was a barrier to where I want to be. So getting the U.S. citizenship - it opened more door for me to be where I want to be in next couple years. It's not just come with the name, but with more opportunity down the road.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERTO BERROCAL'S "RELAXING PATRIOTIC PIANO MUSIC")

KINDIDI: I see myself to give more to this country that gave me the opportunity. I feel really happy. And right now I'm just wrapping my head around, like, how can I deal with what I have right now? So it's kind of a big responsibility for me to - right now, I know I don't want to be in the same position I am right now. I want to be on a different position starting next year with this opportunity. So on the one hand, I feel really happy. And on the other hand, I feel a little bit stressed (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERTO BERROCAL'S "RELAXING PATRIOTIC PIANO MUSIC")

INSKEEP: Darn it - it's like StoryCorps. Didier Kindidi - a new U.S. citizen who came to America from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

FADEL: As part of our weeklong series, we hear more stories from new citizens tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERTO BERROCAL'S "RELAXING PATRIOTIC PIANO MUSIC") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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