Think of Italy and you probably conjure up the usual themes: rich culinary dishes loaded with tomatoes, olive oil, pasta, red wine, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the gondolas of Venice and other tourist attractions.
But Emma Gordon ’14 is here to tell you something else, which you might not think about when you think ‘Italy’ — elevators.
Italy, the country where Emma traces her roots, holds the world record for having the most elevators. True story, says Emma.
Facts and figures about international cultures from Canada to Cambodia were the topics during the International Club’s annual Flag Day event.
The club hosts Flag Day each year, during which procession of students carried flags of different countries down the center aisle of the chapel. This year, students subsequently brought the flags to the dining hall, where they lined the perimeter of the room. The annual tradition is a chance for both international students and students from the U.S. to celebrate their heritage and share part of their culture with fellow students. It is open to any student who has an interest in sharing their heritage with the school community.
Gordon, whose brother David ’16 also attends Brooks, said she wanted to share her Italian heritage with her classmates.
“Italy has a rich history from the Romans to the Renaissance. Bologna is home to the oldest running university in Europe, where my grandfather graduated from medical school,” said Emma.
For Danielle Arseneau ’13, Flag Day is a chance to dispel some myths around her Canadian heritage. She says she works to erase the Canadian stereotype whenever she can.
“I'd like my peers to know that Canadians do not live in igloos, ride polar bears or moose, play hockey all the time, or say 'eh' after each word,” said Danielle, who serves as the secretary of the International Club. “I also wish people would know that not all Canadians are the same. We all come from different provinces and backgrounds, so we're not all alike.”
But there is one common trait she likes about her hometown and home country.
“I like how Canadians are always known as polite and friendly; I do love that part of home,” she said.
Danielle notes that the U.S. and Canada aren’t all that different. “A lot of media and entertainment is the same and I found a lot of people with the same interests,” she said. And North Andover is like the small town Danielle comes from, so there really wasn’t much culture shock when she arrived here from home. But some of her friends do poke fun of her because she still says a few words differently — such as sorry and bag, which she pronounced “sore-y” and “beyg.”
Caitlin Kluchnik ’15 comes from a place that she finds some of her friends haven’t heard of — Liechtenstein.
“If they have heard of it, they just know that it’s small and it has a prince,” said Caitlin. She said the thing she likes most about home is that because of her home country’s small size — just 62 square miles — “everyone knows everyone,” she says.
“What is also really cool is that it’s really safe; little kids can be outside, away from home without their parents having to worry,” says Caitlin. And sometimes, there’s even a royal sighting. “Sometimes you can see the prince walking around town. He has no security with him and he is very approachable.”
Students with international backgrounds say they’d bring a variety of pieces of their home culture here to Brooks if they could. One feature of Italian culture Emma would like to see — or, hear, to be more accurate — more around Brooks is the beautiful Italian language, and particularly the music, such as opera.
For Danielle, it would be more Canadian musical artists. “Some of my favorite bands from home are mostly unknown, so I would love it if people could listen to them more — and I'm not talking about Justin Beiber,” she jokes.
And Caitlin would import something called “Fastnacht.”
“It’s like Mardi Gras, but a lot longer,” she explains. It runs from November 11 and ends on Fat Tuesday (mid-February). “There is lots of music and parades and parties and people dress up in different costumes. Each town even has their own marching band that represents them. It’s a lot of fun.”
She’s also like to import some of the food from home. “The local cuisine is very simple, but unique. I miss it when I’m at Brooks,” she said.
Faculty member Carmen Vicente-Quesada, advisor to the International Club, said Flag Day is a great tradition at Brooks, which she and other members have tweaked since she took over as the clubs advisor.
“I felt the need to celebrate not only the countries where our international students come from, but also the culture of origin of many of our American students, whose parents and grandparents come from other countries,” said Vicente-Quesada, who added that the definition of “international” grows broader and broader all the time. “We live in a globalized world. I found it easier to think about it in terms of ‘students for whom their culture of origin are an important part of their lives’ regardless of passport or nationality. Flag Day is a great way to recognize and celebrate that diversity here at Brooks.” Flag Bearers
The following students participated in this year’s Flag Day events:
Alastair Hunt ’15, Argentina
Neal Rahman ’13 , Bangladesh
Kate Haslett ’13 and Nick Vasilopoulos ’13, Canada
Valerie Nam 16, Cambodia
Joseline Lu ’15 and Songruo Xie ’15, China
Josh Jacobo ’13 and David Berroa ’13, Dominican Republic
Seif Abou Eleinen ’14, Egypt
Aser Ghebremichael ’15, Eritrea
Nick Lambert ’15, Guyana
Lara Lord ’14 Germany
Alex Norgaisse ’14, Haiti
Andreina Benedith ’14, Honduras
Sathvik Sudireddy ’15, India
Malachy Burke ’13, Ireland
Dan Smith ’13, Israel
Emma Gordon ’14, Italy
Jayde Dawson-Gordon ’13 and faculty member Kenya Jones, Jamaica
Jun Yabuki ’14, Japan
Thalia Garcia-Lakongpheng ’13, Laos
Monica Abou-Ezzi ’16, Lebanon
Caitlin Kluchnik ’15, Liechtenstein
Homar Paez ’14, Mexico
Carolina Rosas ’15 and Alesandra Miller ’14, Peru
Felicia Cafua ’15, Portugal
Neeko Zeno ’14, Puerto Rico
Rachel Loh ’14, Singapore
Rebecca Holt ’14, South Africa
Josh Lee ’13, South Korea
Shane Canekeratane ’16, Sri Lanka
Toys Koomplee ’13 and Bee Nirondonpruk ’13, Thailand
Delaney Blatchly ’14, United Kingdom
Isabel Hancock ’13, United States