When Jinho “Jace” Park and Jinyoung “Gabe” Park first arrived in the United States, they never could have envisioned their relocation halfway around the world would become a permanent move.
Twelve years later, the twin brothers and Accounting majors at Temple University’s Fox School of Business were sworn in as U.S. citizens during a Feb. 4 naturalization ceremony at Alter Hall.
The ceremony ran in conjunction with Law Week, an annual event organized by Fox School’s Legal Studies department. In the five years that Fox has hosted a Law Week naturalization ceremony, the South Korean-born brothers are the first Fox School students to have been sworn in as American citizens.
“Our mother told us we were coming here for summer break after we had finished a year of elementary school,” said Jace, “but really, she only told us that because she knew that we wouldn’t want to come here and leave our friends behind.”
“She tricked us,” Gabe said, smiling. “She told us that when we landed.”
Though at the time shrouded in mystery at the time, their mother’s decision provided the brothers an opportunity to thrive academically. At Wissahickon High School, in Ambler, Pa., Jace and Gabe said they were first exposed to accounting classes. There, they developed an interest in the subject, which eventually attracted them to the Fox School.
Seniors who are slated for May 2015 graduation, the brothers have secured post-commencement employment. Gabe will serve as a consultant in the advisory practice of Deloitte, in Philadelphia, and Jace will act as an associate in the risk assurance practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers, also in Philadelphia.
“Doors open for you when you receive your citizenship,” Jace said. “There’s no more of that awkwardness where we have to say to someone that we’re not citizens. That breaks the ice right there.”
The Park brothers were among the 50 Philadelphians, representing 24 nations, who were sworn in as U.S. citizens by the Honorable Judge Juan R. Sanchez, of the United States District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania, who also serves as an instructor in Fox’s Legal Studies department. The department chair, Dr. Samuel Hodge, recited the Pledge of Allegiance with the newest American citizens shortly after they had taken the Oath of Allegiance.
“This is a great achievement, but do not take your citizenship lightly,” said Fox School Deputy Dean Dr. Rajan Chandran. “Giving back to this democracy, through military commitment or civic involvement, for example, is what makes this country work.”
Chandran, the ceremony’s distinguished guest speaker, told the naturalized citizens that he, too, was once in their shoes. He moved to the United States in 1968 and, eight years later, had earned his citizenship.
“You don’t have to be born here to succeed here,” Chandran said. “Dream and dream big. This country was built upon the dreams of immigrants. Today, you have become citizens of the United States, and you’ve claimed a piece of the American dream.”
Jace and Gabe Park said their family members – mother, Elizabeth, father, Paul, and sister, Vivian – are also in pursuit of the American dream, as the three continue their work toward attaining citizenship.
“Initially, this idea of being a citizen never crossed our mind,” Gabe said. “Living here for so long and meeting new people, slowly, it became my goal to become a citizen. My passion and love for this country grew every year.”