Jasper soccer coach becomes a U.S. citizen

Courtesy photo
Newly minted U.S. citizen, Jasper soccer coach Juan Ramos, proudly displays his citizenship papers and documentation after a ceremony in Indianapolis on June 19.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Juan Ramos thought, in a good way, he couldn’t believe he was doing it. It actually happened, and he had nothing else to worry about.

The 2011 Jasper graduate and assistant boys junior varsity soccer coach officially became a United States citizen June 19 in Indianapolis, culminating what has been a long journey for him. Ramos came to the United States in late 2007 from his native El Salvador, and began a new life whilst escaping the problems back home.

“When I turned 14, the violence in El Salvador was getting very bad,” Ramos said. “The gangs in El Salvador were trying to recruit young kids, and my grandma (Cristina) and my mom (Blanca) thought it would be best for me to come here. So, I was kind of like forced to come here as a kid. You don’t know much about what’s going on, but they decided that it was the best for me to come here.”

Everything about Juan’s new home was jarring to him, especially the language barrier. He remembers his English being “horrible” when he first came to America, and sometimes still tries to get the language down pat.

“The only things I knew how to say was, ‘Hello, Good Morning, Good Afternoon and May I go to the rest room?’” Juan said with a laugh. “It was horrible.”

Some of his fellow students looked at him differently, but he remembers most of them being nice to him, and his teachers understood his situation. Juan needed more help since he didn’t understand English, and he took English as a Second Language to help bridge the gap.

Another thing that helped make the transition more comfortable was soccer, a sport he had been playing as far back as he could remember. Juan suited up for the Wildcats from 2008-10, getting time as a midfielder and forward with Jasper.

“When I played soccer, all my issues went away,” he said. “I had no issues. I had no barrier. There was only a language, and that was soccer.”

Juan attended the University of Southern Indiana after he graduated from Jasper. He first began thinking about wanting to become a citizen around five or six years ago. Juan loved the opportunities a person can have in the U.S. to better themselves, as well as people caring about each other in America.

However, he had to take multiple steps to make sure citizenship became a reality. He had to take different tests and had to wait at least five years after getting his resident card to apply. To top it off, Juan had to take an oath to make it official.

As blessed as he considers himself to be, he also knows that not everybody has had the same opportunities he’s had. There might be a Juan Ramos back in El Salvador, and he wants those people to keep faith and try to better themselves.

“Keep challenging yourself and take every single opportunity to get better and to believe in you,” Juan said.




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