Flags were raised in the Lantern Room, also known as the Flag Room, of the Young Student Center on Tuesday, April 9 to celebrate the international students at Keene State College. The Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success raised flags from twelve different countries and students from some of these countries gave short speeches about their homelands. Scotland, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nepal, Somalia, Kenya, Singapore, Tanzania, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Guatemala were all represented.
The event was organized by Associate Director of the Global Education Office Steve Spiegel, as well as the Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success.
“Some of the flags we’re re-raising because it’s been a number of years since we’ve had students from these locations,” Spiegel said.
The Flag Raising Ceremony is an annual event held in the Lantern Room because Spiegel feels that it is one of the prettiest rooms on campus. Coordinator of Multicultural Student Support and Success Kya Roumimper was also in attendance.
“Being able to help students relish in their cultural heritage and authentic identity is important to student development,” Roumimper said.
Roumimper expressed the importance of this tradition in helping foreign students integrate into life at KSC, as well as students who are dual citizens and have parents who were born in different countries. Roumimper is a KSC alum with a degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and has been involved with the office for her entire time at Keene State, both as a student and a staff member.
KSC junior Samuel Vargas came to the United States from Guatemala to be with his wife. Vargas says that he did not struggle very much with the transition from Guatemala to the United States.
“I believe it’s up to the person. If you are willing to learn, to adjust, it will be easy. If you’re really close minded, and you don’t put the effort into learning the language, the rules and the laws of the new place, it will be more difficult,” Vargas said.
Vargas hopes to become a Spanish teacher. While he discussed his love for his homeland, mentioning Guatemala’s twenty three volcanoes in particular, Vargas expressed his pride in becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Vargas thanked the KSC community for welcoming him and providing him with opportunities to pursue his dreams.
A student from Canada, Van Wile, compared the idea of the Canadian Mosaic to the American Melting Pot.
“Both ideas celebrate the diversity of their country and their people. The difference is that in a melting pot everyone comes together and becomes the same, but in a mosaic, every single piece retains its own unique identity. With all these wonderful little pieces, when you step back, they contribute to a much larger piece,” Wile said.
Food from a few of the countries represented was also served by Keene State Dining Services. Jamaican beef patties, poutine from Canada and curry from Nepal were served, as well as Flan, a caramel custard from the Dominican Republic, along withlemonade, honeydew water and tea.
Alex Harvey can be contacted at