Beloved Traditions

Yesterday we had Opening Ceremonies at the university where I work.  Part of the ceremony is what’s called the Parade of Flags.  Since my days as a student, I have loved the Parade of Flags. I can’t even describe to you how much I love it.  Students representing each of the countries and states of past and present students walk the perimeter of the coliseum carrying their flag high while the band plays.  Over the swell of inspiring music, a spattering of cheers can be heard as the names are called.  I don’t know what it is about this ritual that gets to me.  It’s just amazing to think about the courage and intelligence and spirit of these students who leave everything familiar to study in a completely different culture and language (and I don’t just mean the international students…haha).  The past three years have been particularly emotional for me.  When my (then) boyfriend transferred here from a school in Costa Rica, he was the first person from his country at the university.  They bought a flag for him.  Seriously.  I signed him up to carry the flag without really asking permission.  He was mildly annoyed, but afterwards told me that he was glad he did it.  He showed the video I recorded to his family and friends back home with pride.  Last year, he carried the flag again–this time as my fiance.  This was his final year to represent Costa Rica in the Parade of Flags since he graduates in May.  And this year he is my husband.  Now when I think about all the foreign students that I admired as an undergraduate, I realize that I admire them even more knowing what I know.  Now I have seen firsthand the struggle of being an international student trying to keep up with field-specific jargon and obscure pop culture references.   Bryan works more than twice as hard for every class he takes than I did for all of my classes combined.  He studies for hours many evenings–as long as it takes until he masters the material.  His determination is one of many qualities that I admire about him, and as I watched him walk tall around the coliseum and thought about how far he has come and how close he is to the finish line, I couldn’t help but get tears in my eyes.  Here is a video of Husband carrying his native flag.

This goes without saying, but I am so PROUD.  Next year, he wants my brother to carry the flag.  Possessing a Costa Rican brother-in-law and the national soccer jersey that I brought back for him from one of our trips is about as close as they will get to having an authentic Costa Rican carrying it.  Husband will (Lord-willing) join the working world in a few short months, but his flag will now forever be including in the Parade of Flags, and for this I am thankful.

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