24 celebrate becoming U.S. citizens in naturalization ceremony

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow raises her hand during the oath at the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday. Botha is originally from Romania.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow raises her hand during the oath at the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday. Botha is originally from Romania. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

LEFT: New citizens were naturalized in a ceremony Friday in Concord.

LEFT: New citizens were naturalized in a ceremony Friday in Concord.

ABOVE: Silvia Botha and her husband, Raul, and their two sons, Matei and Filip.

ABOVE: Silvia Botha and her husband, Raul, and their two sons, Matei and Filip.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow looks out at her family after the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow looks out at her family after the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow watches a video from President Joe Biden after the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow watches a video from President Joe Biden after the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow smiles as she holds an American flag at the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow smiles as she holds an American flag at the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Concord Mayor Byron Champlin speaks to the new American citizens at the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday.

Concord Mayor Byron Champlin speaks to the new American citizens at the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow looks at Gov. Chris Sununu during the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024 U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Concord Mayor Byron Champlin were also on hand to mark the occasion.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow looks at Gov. Chris Sununu during the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024 U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Concord Mayor Byron Champlin were also on hand to mark the occasion. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow celebrates during the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow celebrates during the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow shakes the hand of Gov. Chris Sununu after the naturalization ceremony on Friday.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow shakes the hand of Gov. Chris Sununu after the naturalization ceremony on Friday.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow holds an American flag at the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow holds an American flag at the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives on Friday, May 31, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow leaves the reception line after the naturalization ceremony at the  New Hampshire State Archives with Gov. Chris Sununu, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, and Concord Mayor Byron Champlin were on hand to mark the occasion.

New American citizen Silvia Botha of Bow leaves the reception line after the naturalization ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives with Gov. Chris Sununu, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, and Concord Mayor Byron Champlin were on hand to mark the occasion. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By GEOFF FORESTER and ARIANNA MacNEILL

Monitor staff

Published: 06-02-2024 2:54 PM

Modified: 06-03-2024 9:02 AM


The journey that began with Silvia Botha and her husband, Raul, seeking advanced healthcare for their oldest son years ago reached a new milestone as she raised her right hand and became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony Friday.

While Raul celebrated his naturalization ceremony in March, Friday marked Silvia’s first official day as a U.S. citizen. The couple, originally from Romania, now live in Bow. Silvia joined 23 others for the ceremony at the New Hampshire State Archives with Gov. Chris Sununu, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Concord Mayor Byron Champlin on hand to mark the occasion.

“Here we are, happy that a huge chapter just ended beautifully,” Silvia said, joined by Raul and their two sons, Matei and Filip, noting that it’s been key for the couple to bring up their children in “a free country with free rights.”

“It’s very important. I’m very proud and very honored to be a U.S. citizen,” she added.

But the Bothas’ journey to the U.S. began with a difficult discovery while Silvia was pregnant with Matei – doctors in Romania told her their son would have bilateral congenital kidney malformation.

To ensure Matei received the best possible care, the couple was referred to a surgeon in Hungary who specialized in the type of treatment Matei, who was just months old at the time, needed. This forced the couple to travel hundreds of miles from Romania to Hungary and back every other week beginning in December 2008, Silvia said.

Matei ended up having a successful surgery, but at 2½ years old, the doctor suggested bringing him to the United States for further evaluation.

“When we arrived, I was scared,” Silvia said. She was completely focused on her child’s health, and she didn’t know what to expect in a new country where she didn’t know the language or culture. She was 36 at the time and said she relied on courage and faith.

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This November will mark the first presidential election the couple will get to vote in.

“It’s huge,” Silvia said. “I am very honored to be able to have the right to vote. And also that comes with responsibilities; therefore, I have to be very conscious and very fully informed.”

Silvia is studying to be a nurse, and she will complete her degree next year, she said. She currently works at Elliot Hospital in Manchester.

While she now helps others to heal, Silvia noted that Matei is now healthy, though he will need continued care throughout his life.

In his remarks, Sununu commended the families and friends who supported the newly minted citizens.

“It’s never easy to go through something like … this transformation as becoming a citizen of this great country alone,” he said. “So a big congratulations to the families as well because it’s exciting.”