Cultures unite for new U.S. citizen
Capac's bilingual teacher takes oath on Cinco De Mayo
May 07, 2008CAPAC — Cinco de Mayo Day had added significance Monday for Capac bilingual teacher Anhel Mendoza Reitz.
Not only was she able to celebrate her Mexican heritage, she became an American citizen during a ceremony in Detroit.
Anhel was among a group of about 60 individuals who assembled to take the oath of citizenship at the federal courthouse downtown. Others were from Bosnia, Argentina, Iraq, India, China, Canada, Peru, Jamaica, the Phillipines and Brazil.
A teacher in Capac since the fall of 1996, Anhel works with students in grades K-12, interpreting and teaching in both English and Spanish.
|Capac bilingual teacher Anhel Mendoza Reitz is applauded by her fellow elementary school staff on Tuesday for attaining American citizenship. photo by Tom Wearing.|
In honor of Anhel's new citizenship status, staff and friends at the elementary school held a congratulatory party for her on Tuesday. Ironically, the party coincided with an already-scheduled Celebrate America Day at the school.
Anhel acknowledged that becoming an American citizen represents a personal milestone. Married to Russell Reitz, a high school teacher in Brown City, the couple has two daughters, Maria, 5, and Karina, 3.
"It was very interesting to see so many people from all over the world at the ceremony," says Anhel, "and it was very exciting to take the oath.
"The judge who swore us in said some nice things and made us feel very welcome," she says. "He encouraged us to use our energy and ideas to help make America a better place. He even wished me and three other Mexicans a 'Happy Cinco de Mayo.'"
Elementary school Principal Dave Rees applauded Anhel for her contributions to the district, and for her decision to become a U.S. citizen.
"Anhel is very respected in this building and is a great asset to us," said Rees. "She has a lot of pride and shares a great deal of her culture with our students and staff. She's an important part of our team."
Rees noted that although Mexico allows its citizens to have dual citizenship, the United States does not.
"She had to give up her Mexican citizenship to become an American," Rees added. "That was a big decision."