How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: L.A. Convention Center

Photo by Grant Slater/KPCC

A newly naturalized U.S. citizen and his daughter - very much into the spirit of the occasion - leave a citizenship ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center, June 27, 2012.

KPCC's Grant Slater spent a day last week at the Los Angeles Convention Center downtown, where more than 7,300 people who came to the United States from more than 120 nations were sworn in as citizens June 27. As far as naturalization ceremonies go, it was a big one. And as often as these events are reported, everyone always has a special story.

Grant recorded mini-interviews with several of the new citizens there, among them people like Shido-Sheng Peng, 92, of Taiwan, who first came to United States in 1961 as a student. Other new citizens included a 102-year-old man from the Philippines and actor/"Dancing with the Stars" competitor Gilles Marini. Immigrants from the countries most represented came from Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, El Salvador, China and Iran. From the piece:

We spoke with dozens of new citizens and asked them why and how they came to the United States, as well as when the first time they felt like an American was. Some felt American as soon as they set foot in the country, while others felt like they weren't truly American until they raised their hand and took the oath on Wednesday.

When did you feel like an American? Whether you were born here or not, we want to know about the moments when you felt akin to our nation, part of this country. Tell us by sending your thoughts below, or posting on KPCC's Facebook page.

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