First vote feels right
For Urszuela Glab, a native of Poland, the primary election on June 12 was the first election she voted in as an American citizen.
“It was a good experience to get better connected to my community and support my party,” Glab said.
Glab, who has lived in Scarborough for the past 18 years, earned her United States citizenship in Nov. 18, 2011 in a ceremony at the Edward T. Gignoux United States Court House in Portland. She said the greatest part of the day was when she found out her daughter, Nicole, had flown up from Annapolis, Md. to surprise her. Nicole, a 2008 graduate of Scarborough High School, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy this spring and is a service war specialist aboard the U.S.S. Lake Erie in Hawaii.
“I am very proud of her,” Glab said. “I wanted to do this for her, more than for myself, I think.”
Glab’s other daughter, Maya, a 2011 graduate of Scarborough High School who is currently studying at the University of New England, was also on hand to see her mother become a naturalized citizen.
Glab grew up in Szczecin, a city of 400,000 residents near Germany and the Baltic Sea. Glab’s parents, who were farmers, and two brothers still live in the city. Glab said she and her husband Janusz – her fiancée at the time – decided to leave Poland in 1988 because it was still under communist control.
“We came to America because of the American dream,” she said this week. “We wanted a better life for our (future) kids and for us.”
Glab and her husband came to this country 24 years ago on a tourist visa, got married and shortly thereafter Janusz got a working visa. After her husband passed away in 2004, Glab applied for a green card, a document good for 10 years that allows a person to live and work in the United States. After waiting the mandatory five years after receiving her green card, Glab began the citizenship process in 2009.
Glab said she and her husband settled in Scarborough because of its “good schools and good sense of community.”
Glab’s sister came to America 13 years ago and lived with Glab in Scarborough for a year. She now lives in Virginia. Glab said she was last in Poland in December to visit her parents. She brought her daughters to Poland for the first time in 2006.
All applicants for naturalization, regardless of where they are originally from, are tested in English and civics, which includes questions about U.S. history and government.
State Rep. Heather Sirocki, a friend of Glab’s, helped her study for the test and prepare for U.S. citizenship.
“Heather helped me with the test and to go through the questions about the Constitution and background going back to when the U.S. was founded. It was a good history lesson,” Glab said, adding applicants must know about the country’s history, but also current events happening around the country and Maine.
Glab was interest in becoming a citizen so she could vote. It was something not afforded to her as a green card holder.
“I can vote now,” Glab said with a smile. “When you live in a community for so long, you want to be involved. I think we should all be involved in what’s going on in the United States.”
Glab, however, was not the only person in her family voting for the first time at the June 12 primary. Maya, 19, was also voting in her first election and accompanied her mother to the polls.
“It was nice sharing that,” said Glab, who works as the assistant manager at Chico’s in the Maine Mall.
Glab said none of this would have been possible without a strong support system.
“I say thank you to all the support from my friends, family and neighbors,” Glab said.
Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.