The Cooke Park Pavilion filled with joy and excitement on Tuesday when 17 new Australian citizens were welcomed into our community at the first citizenship ceremony in over two years.
The 17 new citizens are from 12 different countries from all over the world. They are: Emmanuel Cooper (Liberia), Ankush Dogra (India), Dr Subakthi Fernando (Sri Lanka), Karen Kingham (UK), Caroline Kennedy (Ireland), Suliana Naqau (Fiji), Oluwole Oyeyipo (Nigeria), Kelley Wood (USA), Eun-Jung Yoon (South Korea), Ratri Dey (Bangladesh), Dr Atanu Paul (Bangladesh), Rhona Jackson (UK), Zhansheng Wu (China), and from the Philippines Cristina Espiritu, Alfonso Melosantos, Theozeus Melosantos and Mariah Melosantos.
The Parkes Shire Mayor Ken Keith OAM, as an authorised person who may receive the pledge as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia, congratulated the residents on their decision to become Australian citizens. “A decision welcomed not only by me but by all Australians,” he said.
“When you make the decision to become Australian, you are deciding to become part of a nation which is not your homeland, but which you have decided to adopt as your own. This is a big step, regardless of how long you have been living in Australia.”
The Mayor said the new citizens should not forget their language, customs or culture of their country of birth, and he encouraged them to “embrace the values of freedom, peace, diversity and acceptance that we enjoy in Australia”.
Many of the new citizens commented on how much they enjoyed living in Parkes and how welcoming the community were.