The international flag collection maintained by Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech continues to grow.

Today, Virginia Tech has more international students enrolled than it ever has before--3,041 students representing 128 different nations are currently members of the university community.

And to honor these students, flags from all 128 nations will be flown in front of Burruss Hall as part of the university's presidential installation celebration Oct. 17 and 18.

Going forward, these flags will also be displayed at other university events, including commencement celebrations and the International Street Fair. The flag display at all these events will be a visual reminder of how Blacksburg embraces globalization.

“The fact that flags will be on display during the installation ceremony of President Sands shows how important diversity and inclusion are to the leadership at Virginia Tech," said Brian Bolton, director of Cranwell International Center. "It is a source of pride for the students and a visual demonstration of their inclusion within the university community.”

“It’s hard for international students to be away from home, but they are here for a reason. Seeing these flags at the installation is a sign that the university acknowledges how difficult it is to be far from home, but that they are valued here," said Noha ElSherbiny, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and president of the Council of International Student Organizations. "This reassures international students that their new president is thinking about them and desires to make Virginia Tech inclusive for them.”

Never before have all 128 flags been flown at the same time. At commencement ceremonies held in May, the Council for International Student Organizations placed 78 flags along Spring Road to represent the home countries of the 2014 graduates. International graduates and their families were seen hugging the flagpoles and taking pictures with the patriotic symbol of their countries of origin.

Because Virginia Tech is attracting students from even more countries, Cranwell International Center has ordered additional flags for the installation. New flags added to the collection include the Congo, Macau, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and South Sudan.

To place all 128 flags will require student involvement. ElSherbiny said that members of other student organizations, Cranwell International Center staff, global ambassadors from Cranwell, and volunteers from the community have volunteered to help. Others who may be interested can sign up to help.

Cranwell International Center recently moved its location to Harper Hall to situate itself centrally, creating an inviting and easy-to-access atmosphere for international students and scholars. 

“Much like the move to central campus, the presence of flags at university events will remind the community of our vibrant international presence at Virginia Tech,” said Bolton.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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