One of the great joys of studying at an international school is that we truly live within an international community. Not just an international community, but a community that celebrates its international heritage.
In the US, for the most part, we only recognize and celebrate our own independence days. For us, we’re not even sure what holidays from our neighboring countries really are. (Cinco de Mayo, for example, is not Mexico’s independence day. That’s in September.) But here at LCC, there are close to forty countries represented in the student body. How do we recognize and celebrate each of those cultural heritages?
One way is that on days celebrating a country’s independence day, that national flag is raised on campus to celebrate their culture and their heritage. It’s always an exciting event to see a new flag fluttering proudly on the flag-pole. They honor and respect a people with their own history, their own story, and these national stories do help form part of personal identity.
So not only does the national flag fly but the LCC cross-cultural team partners with students from the country in order to host a celebration of the country and its culture.
Most recently, we celebrated Armenian independence day. The Armenian team put together a wonderful presentation about Armenian history, culture, and song, with plenty of traditional Armenian food as well! (It was delicious)
For most of us who are study abroad students, we come from North American countries where we rarely get a chance to hear about other countries and their cultures. We might have a sense of cultural regions but rarely do we get to experience an invitation into a culture like LCC hosts multiple times a semester.
So far this semester, we have celebrated German unification day, as well as both Armenian and Ukrainian independence days.
By celebrating these countries, we also celebrate the students who come from each country. As our identities are shaped by our cultures, they become part of our identity. Yet, when our cultures and our cultures are viewed negatively, that affects how we view ourselves.
That is one of the beautiful things about independence day celebrations at LCC. By seeing each country and its important national as worth celebrating, it is a chance to affirm others in our community that they too are worthy of celebrating.
So, when you have the chance to celebrate a holiday from another culture with others from that culture, embrace that opportunity. Celebrate with them and celebrate them. Events and memories like that strengthen friendships and it is these friendships that help bind people and nations together.