On the afternoon of March 1, International House revived a venerated tradition: the flag-raising ceremony. As the pandemic continues to restrict our ability to gather in person, this small ceremony was yet another way to bring together residents to create community and celebrate the I-House spirit safely. More than 25 residents and staff gathered outside on the mezzanine roof of I-House South to raise the flags of the five countries that are home to the largest numbers of residents in the House this semester. Our current residents hail from 30 countries this year, and the five countries that are home to the largest number of residents are the United States, China, India, South Korea, and France.
While the flags are changed to reflect the five countries that are home to the largest number of residents every semester, the process was generally handled by staff without fanfare. The flag-raising ceremony was conducted only on special occasions, such as in 1987, when the stone lantern in Sakura Park was re-dedicated by the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. Many residents took the opportunity to take in the day from a special vantage point, with its magnificent view of the Hudson River, while others simply enjoyed the event as a way to express national pride. Said Resident Jackie L., a Mechanical Engineering graduate student at Columbia University from China, “I am so proud to raise the Five-starred Red Flag at International House!” Laughter and chatter could be heard as the participants hoisted the flags, and once the flags were raised high and waving in the wind, all appreciated the display of international community.