When students are many miles away, it is nice to have something that reminds them of home.
For the 257 international students on campus, the flags that hang in the clear story of the Main building serve that purpose. Usually they hang in the space above the coffee shop, opposite the space that holds the U.S. and Oklahoma flags.
Fifty different countries are represented by the flags, each one symbolizing one or more full-time students from that country at OCCC, said Erin Logan, Student Life director.
“We have more than 60 countries represented on our campus, so we look at the majority,” Logan said.
“We rotate out every year the ones that only have one student, so it should be at least one of their years on campus their flag is up.”
The “wall of flags” project was started about 10 years ago by Dr. Marion Paden, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services.
“Dr. Paden really wanted to help find a way to recognize the courageous acts of our international students and give them something to remind them of home,” Logan said.
With the help of other staff members at OCCC, they were able to make the wall of flags happen. Ajit Khan, an international student and advertising major, said he was pleased to see his country’s flag on display.
“At first I thought I might not find the flag of Bangladesh among all these big countries, but I was wrong,” he said. “I found Bangladesh was hung with equal respect.”
Khalid Masum, another international student from Bangladesh and business major, also noticed his flag hanging in the Main Building.
Six students from Bangladesh are enrolled this semester, according to statistics provided by David Orsburn, international admissions coordinator.
The largest number of international students comes from China, with a total of 35.
Other countries with several students are: Vietnam, 29; Saudi Arabia, 27; Nepal, 24; South Korea, 22; Cameroon, 13; Kenya, 12; Gabon, 9; India, 8; Nigeria, 8; Canada, 5; Ghana, 4; Pakistan, 4; Taiwan, 4; Colombia, 3; Indonesia, 3; Mexico, 3; and Morocco, 3.
Another 28 countries are represented for one or two students at OCCC.
Typically observers can see the flags hanging year round.
Logan said the only times they are taken down are for painting, repairing damages and for the spring commencement ceremony.
Logan noted they have already removed the flags in preparation for the commencement ceremony May 16 at the Cox Convention Center.
“It takes about a month to prepare them for commencement,” Logan said. “We have to change out the poles completely and make sure that they’re all hung properly. And this time of year is so busy for the office of Student Life, I always want to make sure that they’re 100 percent right and accurate.
“The flags will be the backdrop for commencement,” Logan said. “They will be a key focal point of the commencement stage.”
If you would like to learn more about the countries represented by OCCC’s international students, consider joining the International Student Association. You can learn more about the club by going to the Student Life office or by email at ISA@my.occc.edu.