Amarkhail knew it was a “big responsibility” and would require a lot of work. He said that the first steps included a background check and taking his fingerprints. There was also, of course, the matter of an interview — a step which Amarkhail and his family apparently passed with flying colors.
“We had heard that he was close to finishing (the naturalization process) last week, and that he was able to go to Lexington and actually find a judge,” said Somerset High School Principal Wes Cornett of Amarkhail. “One of the immigration district judges had said, ‘Yes, come on in.’ They (the Amarkhail family) had a great conversation.”
Cornett added that the judge was “very proud” of Amarkhail, which led to a prompt completion. Of course, Amarkhail still had to take the test showing just how much he knows about this new homeland of his — a test which 38 percent of native-born U.S. citizens would fail, according to a 2011 survey by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
The test covered U.S. history, “past and present,” as Amarkhail put it. An eloquent way to describe the subject matter, considering that mastering the English language was one of his biggest hurdles upon arriving in the country.
“The first year, I felt like I was kind of alone because I didn’t know any of the language at all,” said Amarkhail, who still speaks with a distinct accent representative of his country of origin. “I had to start from zero and move on. Through the seventh-grade (his first year here), I didn’t know any English at all.”
Amarkhail said it took him about eight months to get it down, and got by with a lot of help from his friends — and his school.
“The teachers that helped me out, they tried their best to find a good way for me to learn whatever I could from the class,” said Amarkhail. “I communicated with all my friends, no matter if it was wrong or right. Sometimes it would make no sense at all.”