Wednesday, July 14 has a special meaning for six Ararat Rural City residents following a unique citizenship ceremony hosted by mayor Jo Armstrong.
The mayor held the ceremonies via video calls due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, and while the ceremony may have looked a little different, the outcome was still the same.
The new citizens are from vastly different backgrounds, with Danial Pournayebzadeh formerly of Iran, Christer Akesson (Sweden), Balbir and Gurwinder (India), Ronald Brassington (Britain) and Pavlo Martynenko (Ukraine).
Mr Pournayebzadeh, who owns and runs the Moyston General Store with his partner Julie-Ann Rose, said the ceremony was a dream come true.
"It was a bit of a shock," he said.
"The mayor came out to my store and delivered to me a native plant and a card.
"I was deeply honoured."
Mr Pournayebzadeh arrived in Australia in 2015, hoping to continue his trade as an agricultural engineer.
However, he quickly discovered that he needed to adapt to remain in his new country.
"I came to Australia on a skilled migrant visa," he said.
"I have ten years of experience in Iran as an advisor, but I found Australia does things a bit differently.
"After looking for a job for several months, I decided to study aged care, because I wanted a stable life.
"I found a job working in disability and also studied to become a masseur.
"Then I met Julie-Ann. One day she asked me if I wanted to move to Moyston to run a general store and I said, 'Yes! I am up for a challenge'."
Mr Pournayebzadeh said the Moyston community welcomed him with open arms.
"I just love this small community," he said.
"They are very nice, friendly people who have been so supportive."
Cr Armstrong said it was an "absolute honour to confer the citizenship ceremony".
"Citizenship ceremonies are very meaningful for me, because I too went through that process when I was naturalized in 1994," she said.
"It's such a powerful step for a person to take - to become a citizen of another country."
She agreed the unique ceremony was memorable, because she could speak to it conferee on a personal level.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from The Ararat Advertiser. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Ararat shire, sign up here.