Members of the Tahiraj family listen as Cumberland University President Harvill Eaton reads a proclamation recognizing their individual efforts to become U.S. citizens. Natives of Albania, family members include Genti Tahiraj; his father, Tahir; mother, Dhurta; sister, Arjana; and brother, Tani.
SAM HATCHER / The Wilson PostBy SAM HATCHERThe Wilson Post
An Albanian family who relied on friendships and relationships here celebrated a very special occasion Sunday.
They officially are now U.S. citizens.
The family Tahiraj visited with friends and well wishers at a reception Sunday at the home of W.P. and Leanna Bone. As they mingled among guests they recounted many of their personal struggles, their successes and expressed frequently their appreciation of having the opportunity to come to the U.S. and to now be U.S. citizens.
Arjana was the first of the Tahiraj family to find refuge in Lebanon. She came to the U.S. to attend college.
The Bones learned of Arjana from a newspaper account of a car accident in which she was involved in Tullahoma some 10 years ago. At that time she had been forced to leave Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and had moved to Tennessee. She was, as family members remember, out of money, looking for work and trying to make the best of a desperate situation in a country far away from her native Albania.
The Bones entered her life and made it possible for her to attend Cumberland University.
Shortly after Arjana enrolled at Cumberland, her brother came to the U.S. He, too, was welcomed by the Bones and enrolled at Cumberland. Both Arjana and her brother Genti graduated from Cumberland in 2002, Arjana with a degree in nursing and Genti with a degree in biology.
The entire family got to America in a most unusual way.
W.P. Bone explains they got here because they were lucky. “They won a Green Card lottery in Albania.”
Only a few are selected annually in what’s regarded as a “lottery” to have the right to leave Albania for a destination in America. As a result, the family Tahiraj won the lottery and came to the U.S.
Since coming here another child, Tani, has now graduated from Cumberland. Tani graduated last year with a degree in business.
For five years the mother and father and other family members have studied and prepared to earn their American citizenship.
And now they are indeed U.S. citizens.
The Bones are proud of the accomplishments of this family. Their successes have not come without hard work, determination and commitment.
“This is a very happy day. We’re proud of each of these family members and proud that they are now U.S. citizens,” said W.P. Bone.
After remarks at the reception by Cumberland President Harvill Eaton, who recognized the family’s efforts, their relationship to Cumberland and now their citizenship, Genti Tahiraj, with a heavy Albanian accent, said “We are tremendously blessed. We are blessed to be in this country.”
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