Lawrence County Indonesian woman becomes U.S. citizen; Adult Learning center helping with English, grammar…
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LOUISA, Ky. — Siska Aprilia-Pack is studying for her Compass Test at the Adult Learning Center in Louisa because she plans to enter the nursing program at ACTC in the spring. However, she has already passed what is perhaps the most important test of her life — becoming a U.S. citizen.
Siska’s story begins in Qatar, Persian Gulf, where she met her husband, Michael Pack, while he was in the military. They married in 2005, and continued to live there for two years. After finishing his time in the service, Michael, who is originally from Martin County, brought her back to Kentucky, and they now reside in Louisa.
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After living here for five years, and knowing that she and her family
would be here permanently, Siska decided to go through the naturalization process because she felt there were more benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen.
She had to go to Louisville as well as Charleston, WV, to complete all the paperwork and testing. It was a six month process to earn a lifetime certificate. Siska received her citizenship this month.
Born in Jakrta, Indonesia, Siska learned English in grade school, which all children learn as a second language. The Indonesian language is called Bahasa, which is influenced from Arabic, Dutch, and some Chinese. Students then may choose a third language, which is usally Mandarin or Japanese.
Siska said she also learned a lot from movies and musical tapes.
She is Muslim, and Michael had already converted to Muslim before he met her. When asked what her mother’s reaction was when Siska decided to marry an American, her mother said, “I don’t care who you marry as long as he is Muslim. The man is the head of the family, and you must be on the same path.”
As for her husband’s family, and what they thought of her, she said they were very supportive, and helped her a lot, especially during the fist two years while Michael was still living in Iraq, and she and her daughter were living alone.
Siska explained that the Muslim religion believes in one God, and that His messages can be found in four books: The Quran, The Bible, The Torah, and The Zabur, all of which were written by a messenger of God. Siska’s family prays and worships at home, and if they want to visit a Mosque, there are four locations: Prestonsburg, Huntington, Charleston, and Lexington.
“I am not trying to spread Islam.” Siska said. “But if you have God in your life you are on a good road. You may slide here and there, but you are on the right path.”
We talked about how many different cultures live together in larger American cities, but that in rural areas such as ours, some people are not so accepting of outsiders. When asked if she had experienced any social adversities, she said she really hadn’t encountered many problems, but when she did, she said, “I use it as an opportunity to help people understand that God created us all differently to unite and work together in the community. I appreciate someone coming up to me and asking what I’m all about, instead of talking bad about me behind my back.”
Siska’s outfit was quite beautiful, and she explained about the covering of the head and body.
She said skirts and pants are acceptable, and the blouse or dress, must be long and loose enough not to show so much curve of her body.
This is because an Islamic woman is to show her beauty and her body to her husband only. In Indonesia, the palms and face may be seen, and it is a personal choice as to what age a girl should cover up, she said. It is more strict in the Middle East, and older women are completely covered, including a veil over the face. This is so there is no eye contact between women and men, because flirting and sexual messages are sent with the eyes.
“We believe that you have to respect yourself, or others won’t respect you.” Siska said.
I asked her about the terrorist attacks on 9-11, and how people in her country felt about it.
“We hate them too.” she said. “Our religion does not teach violence.”
We discussed the fact that there are extremists in every culture, and how unfortunate it is that there are people who think that just because terrorists exist in a country, that all the citizens are like that.
Children are often misled, and sometimes even taught to hate others who are not like them. It’s very sad to think that just because people don’t know any better, and aren’t willing to learn, that they are missing out on what people from other cultures have to offer. Siska agreed and said, “A child is like a blank page, what you write on it is how it will read.”
Back in Indonesia, Siska has three brothers and her mother. Her dad passed away, and she says it is very hard to be away from her family, especially her mom, who she misses terribly.
Last summer she and her children got to go visit. Siska and Michael have a seven year old daughter, Allisa, and a three year old son, Muhammad Gabriel.
Concerning her upcoming tests, and career plans, Siska said “Pray for me and wish me luck!”