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'Now, it feels right': After 18 years in U.S., Fargo business owner, family become citizens

Karan Saravana, left and his parents, Saravana (Sam) Rangaswamy and Vandana Srivastava, celebrate becoming United States citizens Monday as the family's youngest son, Lalit Saravana, a natural born citizen, looks on. Dave Olson / The Forum 1 / 3
A large crowd is led in a naturalization oath during a ceremony at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., on Monday, April 4, 2016. Rick Abbott / The Forum 2 / 3
Saravana (Sam) Rangaswamy holds his certificate of naturalization after a ceremony at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., on Monday, April 4, 2016. Rick Abbott / The Forum 3 / 3

MOORHEAD – Saravana Rangaswamy, known to many as Sam, left his home in India 18 years ago to seek his fortune in the United States.

Over the years, he accomplished many things, including the establishment of several businesses in Fargo, one of which is Passage to India, a restaurant that prides itself on authentic Indian cooking.

On Monday, April 4, Rangaswamy, along with his wife, Vandana Srivastava, and their eldest son, Karan Saravana, celebrated another high point when they became United States citizens during a naturalization ceremony held at Concordia College in Moorhead.

"We waited for this moment a very long time," Rangaswamy said following the ceremony.

The family's youngest son, Lalit Saravana, a natural-born citizen of the U.S., was there, too, as more than 200 new Americans were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

"It's a very happy moment," Srivastava said, adding that though all of her family are now officially U.S. citizens, they've always felt welcomed in the Fargo-Moorhead community.

"We've felt comfortable here. We don't feel like we're outsiders," she said.

A large crowd is led in a naturalization oath during a ceremony at Concordia College. Rick Abbott / The Forum

Karan Saravana said Monday's ceremony cemented the already strong bond he feels with his adopted home.

"I've lived in the U.S. my whole life—I've grown up here—and it felt weird not being a citizen for the longest time," he said.

"Now, it feels right," Saravana added.

In addition to the restaurant, Rangaswamy owns a grocery store called Fargo Fresh that specializes in offering ingredients that form the core of Indian cooking.

He also set up an IT and engineering staffing and consulting company called infoNERO, which focuses on providing companies with highly skilled workers, some of whom come from overseas in the form of students and others keen on making lives for themselves in the United States.

Saravana (Sam) Rangaswamy holds his certificate of naturalization after a ceremony at Concordia College. Rick Abbott / The ForumRangaswamy said his approach has been to let his companies grow naturally through hard work and making sensible decisions.

He said his family tries to share what they've learned with other new Americans and one of the things he tells them is that freedom can be misused, especially when people start to earn money in amounts that would have seemed impossible in their home countries.

"We try to tell them how they can make use of all the opportunities they've got, rather than choosing life on the wild side," he said.

For both he and his wife, Rangaswamy said moving to the United States from India meant leaving behind people who were important to them.

Calling the move "a very, very tough decision," Rangaswamy said it nonetheless has paid off for his family.

He said both of his sons are now in college, with Lalit majoring in business and planning to take the family's consulting business "to the next level." He said Karan is in pre-med and plans to become a surgeon.

Vandana Srivastava summed up the family's impressions of Monday's naturalization ceremony this way:

"We feel very proud, very happy," she said.

Dave Olson
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