Updated 07/25/2009 08:10 AM
Classmates of ACA victims become American citizens
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Their English may not be perfect, but the conflict of their emotions is clear.
A continued sense of loss…
"I'm so sad because I lost my teacher and a lot of my friends," said Nasraa Farah.
…Coupled with pride.
"I'm so happy for my citizenship today. I'm so proud," Farah continued.
"I'm very happy that I become citizen," added Van Nguyen, also an ACA student.
Farah and Nguyen were classmates and students of the 13 victims of April's ACA shootings.
Their teachers joined them, along with their family and friends, as they and other Civic Association students were sworn in with 44 others, becoming American citizens.
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It's been nearly four months since the tragedy at the ACA and staffers say they couldn't be more proud of the strides that the program and their students are making.
"Their spirit is great, their bravery is applaudable and they came back. They wanted to study. They grieved their friends, but they had a job and they did it," said their instructor Elizabeth Hayes.
The ACA facility on Front Street has been closed since the shootings and has been operating out of the First Congregational Church of Binghamton. Officials say it's still unclear when and if they'll return to the Front Street building, but they're optimistic that the reopening will take place.
"We're truly looking forward to reopening. We're working very hard on this," said Roberta Start, president of the ACA Board. "We just want to open up so we can do business."
For now, the ACA staff continues to move forward, placing their hopes in their students.
"It's a good thing after a really bad thing. It's hope. It's life going on," said Hayes. "It's the spirit that some of the students bring with them to achieve no matter what obstacles come in their way."
A spirit, which regardless of circumstance, refuses to be broken.
ACA officials intend to further address their reopening plans at their next board meeting.