The Newest American

Today my Babes became a United States Citizen. Her path to citizenship started, unbeknownst to her, on this very day exactly ten years ago. Many of you are familiar with that story. For those who aren’t, you may click here to read all about it.

Handan was living in Kazakhstan at that time, a single Turkish mother working as a civil engineer. Not long after our long-distance meeting on Facebook, she packed up her life and moved to Abu Dhabi to start on a new project with a new company.

A year and a half later, that project was abandoned, and Handan was forced to look for another job. She considered a job with a Turkish engineering company that would require her to travel to California on a regular basis. She asked me one day where Burlingame, California was. I told her it was about 30 minutes south of where I was living. She then told me about the job.

I knew right then, right there that I would marry this woman. Her journey towards citizenship had taken a major leap forward, but she still had no idea she was on it.

If you read our story, you know that she never took that job. The details of what happened next can be found there, if you care to look.

But since then, we’ve been together, and her journey became a shared adventure.

Together, we have lived in Doha, Qatar – a tiny country that sits atop Saudi Arabia, surrounded by the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. After Qatar, we visited America to get married. Her path towards citizenship was now official. We then spent a summer in Turkey, followed by a year in Afghanistan, living and working in a war zone. We spent the better part of a year in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – a paradise we wished we could have lived in far longer than we were able to. We lived for half a year in India – a beautiful country (even if our city wasn’t so nice).

And after all that, we somehow ended up back in the States in 2013. In my home state of Connecticut. In my home town of Glastonbury. All by chance.

We applied for her Green Card. Eight months later she became a resident alien (my Little Alien). She then waited three more years, during which time we bought a house and started a life here in America, including this blog you’re currently reading. In February 2017, she began the formal citizenship process. After another year of waiting, Handan’s number was up. It was her turn. She took her citizenship test this morning and passed with flying colors. She will take her oath on February 15, but as far as I’m concerned, she’s in the club.

Please welcome our newest United States Citizen – Handan Navage.

Congratulations, my Little Alien – you made it!

Outside the courthouse

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  1. Congratulations, that is so awesome!!! So glad to have such an outstanding person become part of the USA, lucky us. You are part of the reason of what makes America so wonderful and unique and well American.
    Love your blog, the stories (you should write a book) and all the neat things you guys do and create. All the best to your family.

    With all of your travels, your open hearts and mind you both would make excellent citizens of the world if there ever could be such a thing.

  2. Congratulations Handan , i am so glad for you both . You were destined to meet and entertain us with your wonderful story and incredible D I Y and craft skills . I wish you both a long ,happy and creative life together .

  3. YAY!!! Congratulations Handan!!! I am so happy for both of you. I so enjoy the Handan and Greg adventures. Thanks for the wonderful blog information and stories.

  4. Congratulations! So happy for you and your family. I enjoy your blog and that you share your life’s journey. Here’s to the sweetest things in life coming your way.

      1. By sharing your happiness it continues to grow. It’s the coolest thing ever, much like love.
        This 4th of July will truly be your celebration too!
        I hope you feel and know that you are an American.
        We’re a big melting pot of hopes & dreams, with the potential to live our best life and encourage one another.

  5. Congrats Handan! So happy for you. You exemplify what it means to be an American. Here’s to a long and happy life in the good ole USA. ?

  6. Congratulations on making your dreams come true. Thank you for including us, in your journey, with this blog. Looking forward to what comes next.

  7. wow i think you are as american as apple pie and greg is the alien lol congrats smiley my america is your american welcome welcome xx

  8. I welcome you with open arms, And a great big hug even though I don’t know you. I couldn’t be more happy for your beautiful life with a man who obviously adores you. Congratulations best wishes I’d take 1 million more like you!

  9. Wonderful! Congratulations, Handan! Someone else said “your smiles say it all” and it is true! Together you are an amazing and wonderful team and you really brighten my life! Thank you!

  10. Congratulations Handan. I’m very glad you like living here. You and Greg are a great couple and deserve continuing happiness.

  11. Welcome, Handan! Congratulations!! (Believe it or not, this country is not nearly as “anti-immigrant” as the press would like for you to believe!) I am very happy for both of you, and thoroughly enjoy BOTH of your stories, and “projects”!! (Can’t wait to see what y’all do to salvage that beautiful table!!)

    1. Thank you, Terra! So far this country has been very supportive of me as an immigrant, and the press won’t make me believe anything different, LOL! Oh, yes, Greg is still working on that table…it is going to be beautiful, but it is very different indeed!! 😀

  12. Where do you guys have to go for the Citizenship ceremony? I had mine at Faneuil Hall in Boston – and if you’re headed there, be aware that they do not open the doors until right at the prescribed time. So you wait. Outside. Guests get to go in early (through another door). I got my citizenship December of 2016, and believe me, the lot of us outside Faneuil were definitely huddled masses. Mostly yearning to be warm.

    1. It will be in Hartford. Oh my – I hope they let us in the building at least. Thank you so much, Nicole, because I definitely wouldn’t even think of that. 😀 The whole process of becoming an American citizen took me a year, but becoming a New Englander…even after living here for 4 years…I am still trying to get used to the climate LOL. I guess I wasn’t created for this kind of cold weather 😀

  13. Congratulations Handan! Some of us are lucky enough to understand the importance of American citizenship. My mother had to wait seven years, study for and take the test most Americans can’t pass, and then became a citizen. She always stressed how important it was to keep up on current affairs so as to vote appropriately. I was born in England during WWII with dual citizenship but still had to jump through hoops so I could get a passport and vote. It took me over six-months to get my British birth certificate and my military birth certificate. Then I had to go to a federal building before I could get my papers. Sadly, too many natural born citizens take it for granted. I love seeing people like you get citizenship. You should be very proud of yourself!

    1. Thank you so much, Vivian! Oh I totally agree with you – many take it for granted and don’t see the importance of what they have, which is unfortunate. If only they had the opportunity to live abroad, or spend some time in another country. That kind of experience truly changes how we look at life in general and helps us appreciate and love everything we used to take for granted before. 🙂

  14. Hi Nicole, congratulations on your citizenship! What country did you come from? Handan will be having her swearing in at the federal courthouse in Hartford. Hopefully it won’t be snowing or raining on her day – I’m sure she could do without the “authentic, old-school immigrant” experience, LOL!

    1. I’m now a dual American/Canadian citizen. I’d been here on a green card for years, but decided to finally take the plunge in the hope of being able to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Missed that by a month, but did get to vote in a recent municipal election, which was fun.

      The citizenship ceremony itself was weird. There were 700+ people all pledging allegiance at once. The rest of the process is so one-on-one that the group ceremony was jarring. And lots of hurry up, line up and wait. They take your green card away, and you get the paperwork you need to apply for that all-important US Passport. Happily I was able to expedite mine, as I needed to travel to Canada for Christmas a couple weeks after my ceremony!

      I am reading all of your backstory – just finished the multi-part Afghanistan section. Super interesting to read the perspective of someone who was living there!

  15. Congratulations, Handan!! You are welcomed with open arms! Thank you to you and Greg for sharing your adventures both personally and in the DIY world. It takes a lot of guts to do what you did. 🙂

  16. I am your Canadian Cousin (in return you are my American “Cousins” as we put it up here in the Great North) and I wish both of you the best of what our beautiful world has to offer. Humans are a pretty messy bunch quite often, but it is lives being lived as you two do that keeps hope going that more and more people experience life this way…it is difficult to see my American Cousins go through such turbulence, but having it balanced with true love of others, such as yours, will win through. Thank you for sharing your loves and struggles with us. Welcome home.

  17. Congratulations!! It’s so nice to welcome such a wonderful person to become officially one of “us”!! I love your story of meeting and ending up here as a couple and of course, all the projects you share with us!! Life is good!

  18. Congratulations and welcome! This is so exciting! I’ve only had the joy of celebrating with one other person – we brought donuts with red, white, and blue sprinkles to work and I made a small door hanger flag pillow (cause that’s all the fabric I had available, small amt) and we all clapped for him! Or maybe we sang or said the pledge of allegiance. ? It was a long time ago, but a happy moment.

    You two are so cute, love your smiles!