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Naturalization Ceremony for 98 new citizens kicks off World Refugee Week

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jun 14, 2023

Happy faces of new Americans filled the Utah State Capitol Building.

They comprised of immigrants and several refugees to become U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony held at the Utah State Capitol-a timely and momentous moment to kick of World Refugee Week.

"I think it's important for all of us just to be able to learn from each other, learn from different cultures.We only become richer when that happens so I think it just enriches our state here,” said Mario Kljajo, director of the Refugee Services Office, Department of Workforce Services.

“And that's one of the what a perfect opportunity. The World Refugee Day that is coming up this week and for everybody to come out and just get to know refugees get to know their culture, get to know their special journeys that they've been on and just kind of have a good time.

Utah is home to more than 65,000 refugees from more than 21 different countries. In 2022, Utah resettled 1570 refugees with 1,200 expected to be resettled in 2023. At the naturalization ceremony new Americans represented over 48 countries.

"We had people from Burma, Afghanistan, Peru, Iraq, Iran, all of these other places, even someone from Ukraine,” Wickstrom said. "So it's really exciting to see the diversity that we have just added to our state today.”

For Mashal Rouzbahan, a refugee from Iran, its been a nine year journey to citizenship, but one simple feeling to encapsulate this momentous day.

"I'm very happy. I'm very happy today. I thank my God.”

For these new Americans, it wasn’t just a joyous occasion, but a glimpse into their future and all its possibilities.

“So I am from Venezuela, its a difficult situation right
now, right there,” Gabriel Perez said.

“It's a dream just to be citizen of the United States of America. I am so excited about to vote and have the I am so excited to apply for my passport.”

“I feel amazing.” Edwidge Hal said, who is originally from Congo. “It’s finally over and I'm very excited to be able to vote and to travel.”

Utah is joining in the international celebration of World Refugee Day on Friday, June 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, June 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Big Cottonwood Regional Park, located at 4300 S. 1300 E., Millcreek.

Free activities for families include music and entertainment, storytelling, a global market featuring refugee entrepreneurs and the chance to sample incredible international cuisine. More information is at