Posted: September 24, 2021
When he first came to the States, Fikadu Tafere was just in search of a place that would give him opportunities to learn, grow and find a steady job that was fulfilling.
“I came from Ethiopia to the US in 2008,” the 35-year-old Coloradan explained in a recent interview. “I came on a Diversity Visa that’s like a lottery. Two to three thousand people are randomly selected and come from each country to the US. You have to finish high school before you can come. I was in vocational school and came in when I was twenty-two.”
In August 2011, Tafere started work at Clermont Park Life Plan Community in Denver as a member of the dining team. This position would become a rewarding career with the community’s parent organization, Christian Living Communities, that has already exceeded 10 years.
“I like the environment, but my #1 favorite part about working with Christian Living Communities has been the residents at Clermont Park — they are such good people and so patient,” Tafere explained. “It has been a pleasure working with them. I love them all.”
Many residents asked Tafere whether he was planning to become a US citizen, and so he explored the option. Applying for citizenship requires multiple steps including living in the States for five years, having a valid green card (both of which Fikadu had) and proving your readiness on a 100-question test about what it means to be a citizen. Having citizenship status provides the ability to vote, work with the federal government and an American passport for global travel, something Fikadu hopes to do even more regularly. For many of these reasons, as well Ethiopia’s current state of civil war, he decided to move forward with the process.
As he began studying for the exam, residents at Clermont Park quickly came alongside Tafere to help him tackle this key challenge toward citizenship. “I would bring my study book with me, and they would take it and help quiz me.” Fikadu said that process “helped me answer the test questions perfectly right away. The residents helped me a lot with becoming a US citizen. Their encouragement was huge.”
Tafere finally qualified for his citizenship earlier this year and became a US citizen May 4, 2021. While COVID-19 precautions prevented a full-on party, Clermont Park residents and team members made sure to stop by and serenade him at work with a version of America the Beautiful, accompanied by saxophone. Fikadu was particularly touched by the ways residents encouraged him on his own journey of citizenship and is doing his best to pass it forward.
“I have friends who I am encouraging to become citizens,” he shared. “And I am currently in the process of helping one of my best friends study for the exam.”
Read the article in Denver Post’s YourHub.