Making our countries known: Flags that identify us

The colorful display of flags in the Richland library is a symbolic representation of the college’s rich diversity. Originally, the idea of hanging the flags came from Carole Johnson, former library director. 

In the beginning, the flags represented the countries of students attending Richland in 1988. They currently serve as an aesthetic accent to the architecture of Richland’s library that evokes the colorful diversity of the college’s pluralistic and multicultural world. 

According to the dean of Educational Resources, Laura McKinnon, there are 130 countries represented on campus and 79 languages spoken, but only 47 flags can be hung at one time along with the five permanent flags on the west wall (Richland, City of Dallas, State of Texas, the United States and the United Nations), which are never rotated.

Currently, four new flags are added every year. They represent the countries with the largest number of international students enrolled on campus. These official flags are recognized by the United Nations and purchased through Allied Flags. The cost varies but generally runs from $50 and up. 

The location of the flags makes them easy to be seen. In the fall of 2016, the east wall featured 21 flags including Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Angola, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China and Columbia. 

On the west wall hang 25 flags including Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon. 

As a representation of the Richland’s international student body we generally received positive comments from our students regarding the flags, but occasionally receive complaints that range from a particular country not being represented to students requesting certain flags come down,” McKinnon said. “The display’s intent is not to provide a current, all-encompassing, universally accepted array of particular flags. Such an effort would be more involved and more costly than the college can afford and would miss the point of this display.”