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9152: Haitian becomes an American -- for the second time (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Haitian becomes an American -- for the second time
By Patty Pensa
Staff Writer

September 27, 2001

DELRAY BEACH  It was the second time Maud Castin raised her right hand and 
pledged her allegiance to the United States of America.

Her voice one of thousands last month in Miami, she recited the Oath of 
Allegiance before being sworn in as a citizen of a country she's called home 
for 13 years.

Taking that same oath Wednesday afternoon, Castin stood before Delray Beach 
Mayor David Schmidt, a group of senior citizens and her co-workers at the 
Alzheimer Adult Day Center in Delray Beach during an honorary ceremony 
bubbling with pride, tears and patriotism.

Her voice was soft as she vowed to "support and defend the Constitution and 
laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic ... "

But her message boomed to the senior citizens and staff who bellowed the 
national anthem.

"I'm very privileged to be a part of this wonderful country," she said. 
"It's an honor to be here. Even though we're living during a painful, 
difficult situation, we still find time to come here and welcome me to this 
wonderful country."

A native of Haiti who followed her father to America at age 17, Castin 
officially became a citizen Aug. 14. That was about a month before 
terrorists struck America, killing people in New York City, near Washington, 
D.C., and in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Castin, 32, said she feels safer now that she's an American.

"The timing of this is so significant in American history," said Mark 
Pafford, assistant executive director of the center. "It really magnifies 
how wonderful it is to be an American citizen."

Through their joyful tears and affectionate words, friends and co-workers 
highlighted how wonderful it was to see Castin become an American.

"Now you're part of the team," Pafford said.

Center volunteer Skippy Kalla helped Castin, a mother of three, prepare for 
the citizenship test.

"I'm so proud of her," she said. "On Aug. 14 our country became a better 
country because it got Maud."

After leaving Cayes, Haiti, in 1988, Castin finished school at Santaluces 
High School west of Lantana, then met her husband, Marcel, at the Church of 
God Prophecy in Delray Beach. Marcel Castin, 44, also born in Haiti, became 
a U.S. citizen in 1989, a year before the couple married.

As a vice president of the Democratic Club of Delray Beach, Marcel Castin, 
also a native of Haiti, said he encouraged his wife to become a citizen so 
she could join in the political process. He helped her register to vote last 
month and has been urging her to attend meetings with the Democrats.

For Maud Castin, though, partisanship wasn't on her mind during the 
six-month process to become a citizen.

"It means freedom of speech, freedom of religion," she said. "Not everybody 
has these freedoms. You can't speak in other countries.

"Freedom -- it's all freedom."

Patty Pensa can be reached at ppensa@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6609.
Copyright  2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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