Citizenship at last
Rosario Tobar is a U.S. citizen at last.
The Kasson woman, known as “Chayo,” moved from Mexico in 1996, and finally took the naturalization Oath of Allegiance this past Sept. 19 during a ceremony in St. Paul.
She was among 21 people who officially became American citizens.
“I cried,” Tobar said. “I’m so very happy. I fit in here. I am here. Now it’s my country.”
“It was one of her dreams come true,” said her husband, Sam Lopez.
Chayo, born in Guadalajara, in western Mexico, was working as a nurse when her patient said she wanted to come to America.
She came to West Concord with former residents Jim and Lydia Freeman, and took a job as a nurse’s assistant at Fairview Care Center in Dodge Center.
She has worked as a custodian at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Kasson for 20 years.
Chayo learned English under the tutelage of Ruth Hanson, a Dodge Center woman who also attends St. Peter’s.
They met every Friday at a café in West Concord.
“And it was fun,” Hanson said. “She’s fun. She works hard. I would describe her as delightful.”
Chayo had to study hard to attain citizenship: answer six of 10 questions from among 100 possibilities.
“I was nervous,” she said.
Hanson and her husband, David, joined Sam and Chayo and Chayo’s sister, Chelo, at the ceremony in Minneapolis.
“I cried,” Ruth said. “We’re so glad that she’s a citizen now.”
A mutual friend introduced her to Sam, a Guatemala native who earned his citizenship in 2008. He is a welder for the McNeilus Company in Dodge Center.
Sam and Chayo live on a quiet, tree-lined street in Kasson. Chayo has four children and five grandchildren – and another on the way.
“This is the land of opportunities,” Sam said. “I like living in a free country. You feel like you can breathe.
“Now we can live free. We can vote,” he said. “We can raise our voice, and somebody’s going to hear us. Before, we were in a hole.”