Video by McKenna Shanholtz
Salah Abdel-Ghany and Daniele Tavani, two Colorado State University staff members, became U.S. citizens in a ceremony at Rocky Mountain National Park in August.
Tavani, an associate professor in economics and graduate coordinator, grew up in Rome and attended the University of Rome for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Abdel-Ghany is a professor of biology, but was not available for comment.
Tavani applied to schools in the United States and was accepted to The New School for Social Research in New York City in 2005.
To his surprise, Tavani would never end up leaving the United States.
“I was getting more excited about graduate school and I wanted to kind of go study in the United States,” Tavani said. “I didn’t know I was going to stay. Originally I thought, ‘I’ll see how it goes and get my degree and I might go back to Italy,’ but we decided together that it was probably good to apply for jobs in the US.”
To transplant his life from Rome to the United States, Tavani had to go through a series of visas.
“The way it works is I entered the United States with a student visa, and so that lasted for the whole time I was a graduate student,” Tavani said. “Then, by the time I got hired at CSU, my visa changed to a high-skilled worker visa.”
Tavani was hired to teach at CSU immediately after receiving his doctorate degree and moved to Fort Collins with his wife.
“After that, almost immediately, CSU along with me filed applications for a green card, which is a permanent resident card,” Tavani said. “So, I got my green card in May of 2011. After five years of having a green card, you can apply for citizenship, so my wife and I applied for citizenship in August 2016, then we became citizens in August 2017.”
The ceremony for his citizenship took place in Rocky Mountain National Park Aug. 9. Tavani received citizenship along with his wife who he had met back in Rome in 1999. Eventually, Tavani and his wife got married, and she followed him to the United States while he was studying for a doctorate degree.
Apart from aging and maturing, Tavani has noticed a significant change of pace between his life in Fort Collins and his life in Rome.
“There’s two parts to my life in the U.S.,” Tavani said. “One part is my life in New York as a graduate student which was super exciting (and) very busy, lots of commuting, lots of subway rides. Then, there is life in Fort Collins which is much quieter, more busy with work and family and friends. Here in Fort Collins we found it to be more quiet and more opportunities to go outdoors.”
The most notable change Tavani has experienced in the United States is the role and expense of food and fresh produce.
“Even though we have access to quality food, I think the type of food that I would get in Rome is so far superior,” Tavani said. “I think that food is part of culture, and I like to gather with friends and eat together, so I think what I’m missing most is the availability of good quality produce, especially for home cooking meals. When you find good produce and good quality food, it is expensive.”
Despite the extensive and consuming process for receiving citizenship, Tavani and his wife applied for citizenship for only one reason.
“We wanted to be able to vote in the country,” Tavani said. “After living here for a while … we felt like we were missing the active participation in the political life of the country, and I wouldn’t have minded too much staying in a work permit or a green card if I were able to vote in administrative elections, at least locally, but you aren’t allowed to. Eventually I think I want to be able to make decisions about politics.”