ABOVE: Janet Andrascik is pictured with Lydia, Dana and Gana Fish following the Sept. 26 citizenship ceremony. Andrascik taught Lydia piano and Gana English.
A man and woman from Myanmar were among those who were naturalized as citizens of the United States last week at Henricus Historical Park.
Gana and Lydia Fish took the oath of allegiance during an 11 a.m. ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The Fishes brought their daughter Dana to the event, which was also attended by Janet Andrascik, a teacher from the Bottoms Bridge area. Andrascik said she taught Lydia to play piano and gave English lessons to Gana.
The Fishes are natives of Myanmar, formerly Burma, and they immigrated to the U.S. by way of Malaysia seven years ago.
Gana said he was an Assembly of God pastor in Myanmar and suffered persecution in the predominantly Buddhist country. He was jailed for a week for preaching, and later fled to Malaysia, noting that he stayed in a refugee camp for a month before he was dropped off at the Thailand border. He made his way back to Malaysia, however, and the next time he was in a refugee camp for six months. He lived in the Southeast Asian country for six years before he was approved to come to the U.S.
“This is great, the welcome. The law is good,” he said.
Fish said he is a third-generation Christian. His mother, father and brother live in Myanmar.
Lydia said about her new citizenship, “Thanks to God!”
The couple lives in Henrico County. Gana serves as a minister in a Christian congregation and works for a vitamin shop.
The naturalization ceremony was led by Magistrate Judge David J. Novak of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond. “Many of you have traveled great distances under different circumstances to reach your new home,” he said.
Sixty-three of Kathy Evans’ choral students from Elizabeth Davis Middle School sang during the ceremony.