Vietnamese Valley resident among 10 achieving citizenship today
A mix of several languages from around the world echoed in the vaulted, wooden Mahoning County Common Pleas Court courtroom of Judge Maureen Sweeney.
Binh Cong Hoang waved an American flag at his two young daughters, Vy and Van, from the courtroom’s jury box.
Thursday morning, the Vietnamese Hoang ceremoniously became an American citizen, along with nine others from Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
Hoang met his wife, Lisa Rosenthal of Youngstown, while living in Saigon, Vietnam. Rosenthal, a home decor designer, had been volunteering for an organization developing an economy for Vietnamese handicraft artisans.
“We fell in love,” Hoang said, as his high school-age daughters cooed.
Hoang and Rosenthal moved to the U.S. in 2000 and got married. Hoang said he appreciated the American lifestyle and “freedom.” That same year, Vy was born. Her sister, Van, came four years later.
The couple still runs a handicraft business, selling gift items like Christmas ornaments, photo frames and handbags all made from recycled materials.
When asked how it felt to be finished with the naturalization process, Hoang’s smile brightened and he leaned back into a rolling laugh.
“I feel ‘free’ now,” he said, smiling. “I have [had] to do a lot of things. I had to study. I had to worry about all that. Now I’m like, ‘I’m free.’”
Read more about the event and what his daughters think in Friday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.