The Palestra filled quickly with students, faculty, and even parents from all realms of the TASIS community. The High School, Middle School, and Elementary School students all took their seats eagerly anticipating the famously exciting Parade of Flags and International Week Assembly. Sitting in one of the sections away from the bleachers, I was thoroughly entertained watching the sections of students sitting with their countrymen and already preparing to chant for their nations.
One particular aspect of the Parade of Flags that I enjoy on an annual basis is the fact that two students—one in High School and one in Middle School—are chosen to present the nations as they parade past the crowd. These two students represent more than I believe many people realize. While, yes, TASIS is an international school, it is often difficult to remember that the goal of all students among our community is to be the best global citizens we can in the short time we share on this planet. These two students are chosen because they embody this ideal, a small detail that can be a bit overlooked every year. I therefore wanted to acknowledge the grand role and presence Giulia de Cristofaro ’20 and Edoardo Vasino ’24 had in this year’s Parade of Flags.
As we are reminded many times in our experiences at TASIS, we are the future of the world. That is undeniable and inevitable. But why do we, as students, partake in such a tradition? Well, to some students, it is exactly that: As Miguel Fernandez ’20 put it, “I feel like I am pushing my country forward” when carrying the Mexican flag across the gym for people to cheer for. One of the many values we are taught here at TASIS is to never be afraid to share your cultural experiences with others and have pride in your background. Thus, it is understandable why carrying one’s flag is seen as such an honor to the students in this community. Daisy Bachofen ’20 commented on the meaning of carrying the United States flag, describing the experience as “something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s nice hearing everyone cheer not for you, but for your country. It makes you feel proud to be American.” While for others, it is simply a reminder that “there is still a part of my home with me,” as Anna Collingwood, a fellow US flag carrier, noted after the parade.
Though the Parade of Flags is a tradition that goes mostly unaltered through the progression of the years, one thing I did notice this year that was unique compared to the other two I have been present for is the unity of the crowd during the parade. In my experience, International Week could sometimes be about asserting the superiority of one nation over the other based on the different populations that are weaved into the TASIS community, but that seemingly negative expectation has reformed in my mind because of this year’s International Week and Parade of Flags. During the Parade of Flags in previous years, it was not uncommon for there to be a bit of tension between different groups of students based on who they were cheering for, but this year stood out to me as completely different.
This year there was no negativity in the crowd toward others. It seemed as if students were finally appreciating the idea that everyone is there for the same reason: to support their nation, but also be one with everyone else in the TASIS community. This showed through especially when the Swiss flag was presented in the parade. Never have I seen such enthusiasm from a larger group of people. Students and faculty alike put aside wherever they were from to rally for one common thing: the beauty that is the place we live in. Thanks to Mrs. Fleming, everyone who has in some way connected to TASIS shares the appreciation of a community and a place where the beauty is unmatched in the rest of the world.
You may be asking yourself, “Why all the anticipation and excitement for one assembly?” Some may just say that students enjoy having a relaxed dress code, playing in or watching the World Cup, and celebrating at an international food fair in the middle of the week, but we must not forget the idea that International Week is a celebration of sharing things without fear of conflict or disagreement. In the world we live in today, it is easy to put up defenses when people do not understand where you are coming from or the culture you grew up in. But thankfully we have a safe haven, not only in the nation of Switzerland and the physical security it offers but also in the mental security we have here at TASIS.
In a rare community such as this one, students do not have to be scared to share their points of view. The ability to have an open conversation with different people from all around the world is such a refined resource that should be celebrated and focused on more often because it can easily be pushed aside sometimes. This is why having these set traditions at TASIS is so vital. It not only keeps the fire in students and the school spirit alive, but it also reminds everyone in this community that there is a place for them to come to be celebrated and to celebrate with others.
International Week Photo Galleries