Tuesday, 4 June 2013

More than a Passport

british citizenship ceremony

When we came to Britain three years ago, my husband gave up his lifelong dream of a life under the sun along with our well-paid jobs and good friends in Gibraltar. All for the sake of a British citizenship, the importance of which was only made more evident when on a holiday in Central Europe, we lost our passports in what became an immigration nightmare that involved dealing with three different embassies and was only sorted with the help of a Sheffield MP. 

At tough times we have often contemplated whether we have made the right decision to come here and for awhile we were very adamant that three years and that would be it. We have had enough of this country that doesn't seem to make up its mind about the weather. 

But after three years of living in Sheffield, I have slowly come to appreciate this country and its people - its proud heritage, its respect for different cultures and faiths and its ability to accept its faults and failures. I have made friends with people from different ethnic backgrounds who have made their homes here and who were all equally welcomed, including their traditions and beliefs. I have found a job that allowed me so much flexibility and opportunities for growth. I have made a home that is warm and cozy, with family members living just around the corner in a neighbourhood where everyone looks out for each other. I have enjoyed the fruits of my tax contributions with free medical services, accessible libraries, social benefits and safe and clean streets amongst others. 

No, this island nation in Europe is definitely not perfect and could learn a few lessons from its more advanced Scandinavian neighbours. Its a country full of moaners, ruthless benefit frauds, complicated immigration rules and exaggerated health and safety rules brought about by a culture of compensation. But it certainly means that democracy and social justice is being appropriately practiced here, regardless of the colour of your skin or the contents of your bank account. 

When I pledged allegiance to the Queen today, along with tens of others from 16 different countries, it didn't feel like I was only gaining a passport that would allow me ease of travel around the world. I have been accepted to an inclusive club that is, as the Home Secretary has described in her letter, "united by shared values, our respect for education and learning, and our willingness to listen to different points of view but also together seek the common good." But just like the country of my birth is just an aspect of my identity, my British citizenship will never be the only thing that would define me. 


  1. Wonderful account Angeli! Indeed what you said is true about the UK, having lived here as well.


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