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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Flags represent global diversity

This past Tuesday, the International Student Organization (ISO) and the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) held a reception in the Spencer Grill to dedicate the newly installed Gallery of Flags.

The project began as a collaborative effort, primarily by the Office of International Student Affairs, the Center for International Studies, and Student Activities, to celebrate the diversity of Grinnell’s student body.

The newly installed Gallery of Flags represents countries recognized by the United Nations, 192 member states, plus permanent observers, and the International Olympic Committee’s list of national entities, which incorporates 205 countries, independent territories, commonwealths, protectorates and geographical areas. Nationality was determined on the basis of primary citizenship, although steps were taken to include dual citizens and permanent residents within the United States.

“We want the [flag] gallery to be a visual portrait that celebrates Grinnell’s global diversity,” Edwards said, in her introduction to the Flagging National Identity forum, which was held after the dedication.

The Rosenfield Program, ISO and an number of faculty, staff and students were also involved. Director of OISA Karen Edwards spearheaded the project, working over the summer to iron out the details of the gallery.
Before the gallery could be assembled, two problems had to be solved: how to define the term ‘nationality,’ for the purposes of display, and how to identify different nationalities within the student body.

“[The] flag gallery is a visual representation by different countries represented by students on campus,” said President of ISO Shivani Santoki ’11, reading the dedication plaque at the reception. “It is a source of pride to be recognized and acknowledged to all students on campus, foreign and domestic.”

International students make up nearly 12 percent of Grinnell’s student body, representing students from over 50 different countries. Currently, there are 75 flags hanging in the gallery, which are arranged alphabetically from southwest to northeast. At the reception, bookmarks were distributed with the complete list, which ranges from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The display will be updated annually to reflect changes in the student body.

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