2008-10-16 / Front Page

Proud to be an American

By Eileen M. Daly

Patricia Woodward, second from left, celebrates her new American citizenship with her sons, Greg, 25, Chad, 16, and Tyler, 13. Patricia Woodward, second from left, celebrates her new American citizenship with her sons, Greg, 25, Chad, 16, and Tyler, 13. Jamestown resident Patti Woodward, 54, is a teacher's assistant, mother of three, and a brand new American citizen.

Woodward, a native of Geneva, Switzerland, first visited the United States as a young woman. She came here on a vacation to see her cousin who was employed by Electric Boat. While here, she visited the North Kingstown Town Beach where she met her future husband, David Woodward. A whirlwind courtship followed.

Patti and David Woodward met in the spring. When Patti returned to Switzerland later that summer, David made plans to visit. That December, David arrived in Switzerland. The couple became engaged in Paris and were married the following summer.

David and Patti settled in North Kingstown where they raised their three sons, Gregory, 25, Chad, 16, and Tyler 13. Unfortunately, the marriage ended after 17 years and Patti found herself seeking housing in a then saturated market. "It was pure luck that I found a place in Jamestown," Woodward said. "A teacher that I knew from work heard about a rental available here and told me about it before it even made it to the paper."

Woodward quickly took advantage of the opportunity and settled here with her three sons. "I really love this community. The children were able to bike or walk all over the island. It is a beautiful place to live," Woodward said.

At that time, Woodward was here in the United States with a Permanent Resident card, also known as green card. Her children, however, were United States citizens and Woodward began to think about becoming a citizen herself. "By then, I had spent half my life in Switzerland and half in the United States," Woodward said. "I've always felt close to American soil and my children are all Americans so I decided to pursue citizenship myself."

The process itself is an expensive one, Woodward said. After saving the necessary $680, Woodward sent for and received the 14-page application. "I was able to complete the application myself by filling out one page a day, but I can see how it would be very difficult if a person did not have a good command of the English language," she said. "Some applicants might have to hire an attorney to help them complete the application."

Once the application was complete, Woodward underwent an interview and was recommended for citizenship. She was given a study guide with 100 questions on United States history and civics. "The exam wasn't difficult if you studied the questions. They don't tell you this, but they only ask you to answer ten of the 100 questions. I thought I'd have to answer the whole 100, but that's not what happened."

Woodward passed the exam without any problem. On Constitution Day, Sept. 17, she was sworn in as an American citizen. Some 600 other people were sworn in with her in Providence that day, Woodward said.

Her children accompanied her. "We were all so excited," Woodward said. "Especially since this is an election year and a very important one. The first thing I did was to register to vote. I tell everyone I meet how important it is to exercise their right to vote."

Woodward's pursuit of American citizenship took both time and money, but she's not complaining. She summed the process up quite nicely with this simple sentiment: "I am really proud to be an American citizen."

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