2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients President George H. W. Bush and Gerda Weissmann Klein to Attend Naturalization Ceremony

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Citizenship Counts curriculum inspires enthusiasm in citizenship.

Diane and John Eckstein with Gerda Weissmann Klein

"America is a unique, diverse and wondrous country, comprised both of those who know its magnificence as their birthright, and others, like me, who are privileged to call our adopted country our own,” remarks founder Gerda Weissmann Klein.

Thursday, March 22, 2012, Citizenship Counts, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire pride in America, will partner with the Bush School of Government and Public Service to host a naturalization ceremony conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Eighty-five individuals from countries around the world will be sworn in as U.S. citizens at 10 a.m. in the Frymire Auditorium of the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at Texas A&M University.

Citizenship Counts’ Founder, Holocaust survivor, author, and proud naturalized citizen Gerda Weissmann Klein will speak about the value of American citizenship and the importance of giving back to the community. The Honorable Judge J.D. Langley will administer the Oath of Allegiance to the new citizens. Special guests include former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

The ceremony will be followed by a reception in the lobby of the Presidential Conference Center to celebrate with the new citizens and their families and friends. This event is being held in conjunction with Citizenship Counts’ 3,500-mile bike and walk across America to empower today’s youth to be participatory and active citizens in their communities.

This naturalization ceremony also serves as a capstone moment for the 170 students at A&M Consolidated High School (AMCHS) who will take part in this ceremony as a culmination of their studies. Students at AMCHS have recently completed the Citizenship Counts interactive, multi-disciplinary civics curriculum, which provides a unique opportunity to participate in the democratic process while building a better understanding of the value and responsibilities of citizenship – including the responsibility to give back to one’s community.

Citizenship Counts is committed to educating today’s youth on the tenets of citizenship, encouraging them to appreciate their rights and responsibilities as Americans, and giving them an opportunity to celebrate citizenship by hosting a naturalization ceremony or participating in a service learning project.

"America is a unique, diverse and wondrous country, comprised both of those who know its magnificence as their birthright, and others, like me, who are privileged to call our adopted country our own,” remarks founder Gerda Weissmann Klein. “What we all share is a desire for our families to enjoy America’s boundless opportunities while extending to all our fellow citizens justice and the blessings and freedoms upon which the nation was founded.”

On January 27, 2012, Citizenship Counts Board Member Diane Eckstein and her husband, John, began a cross-country journey with their dog, Kipp, walking and biking 3,500 miles to promote engaged citizenship and raise awareness of the naturalization process. A Journey that Counts: Promoting Citizenship Education from Sea to Shining Sea is traveling across America and participating in celebrations of citizenship, such as the one at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, in several communities across the country.

Throughout the Journey route, Citizenship Counts is providing middle and high school classrooms with their free, multi-disciplinary lessons that teach students about their rights and responsibilities as citizens of our country and how immigration has created a diverse and inclusive America.

The Ecksteins’ inspirations for their Journey are Klein’s life and the work of Citizenship Counts. “We are proud to be Americans,” the Ecksteins say, “and hope that our Journey will inspire and educate young people to be good, participating citizens."

A Journey that Counts started in January in San Diego, California and will conclude later this summer in New York City, where the Statue of Liberty stands as a beacon of hope for many Americans. The Ecksteins’ Journey takes them through these great cities: San Diego, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Tucson, AZ; Las Cruces, NM; Austin, TX; College Station, TX; Dallas, TX; Memphis, TN; Indianapolis, IN; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, PA; and finally New York City, NY.

In each city listed above, students and community members will participate in naturalization ceremonies or other celebrations of citizenship and civic engagement. The Ecksteins maintain a blog on the Citizenship Counts website where supporters can track their progress. Their dog, Kipp, has his own blog, describing his experiences as he travels across America. Additional details about the Journey can also be found on Facebook (CitizenshipCounts) and Twitter (@CitizenshipCnts).

Naturalization Ceremony Details:
Thursday, March 22, 2012
10:00 a.m.
Frymire Auditorium, Annenberg Presidential Conference Center
Texas A&M University
1002 George Bush Drive West
College Station, TX 77843

About Citizenship Counts
Citizenship Counts is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan organization whose mission is to educate today’s youth on the tenets of citizenship, encourage them to appreciate their rights and responsibilities as Americans, and give them an opportunity to celebrate citizenship by engaging in a naturalization ceremony or participating in a service-learning project. To learn more about the program, please visit http://www.citizenshipcounts.org

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Alysa Ullman
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