Parade of Flags kicks off 2019 International Festival

By Brian Munoz and Carson VanBuskirk

While mist descended onto Carbondale Monday morning, a group of international students, faculty and community members paraded through campus while chanting, smiling and celebrating the university’s diverse cultures.

“There are two days every year we really look forward to at the Center for International Education – fall orientation and the opening ceremony for the international festival,” said Andrew Carver, executive director of international affairs. “These students bring the world to SIU.”

Carlos Rugama, a student at the Center for English as a Second Language from Nicaragua, said that he is excited to see the gathering of the international community at events such as the annual parade of flags.


“It’s amazing seeing so many cultures and so many people from different countries [being] here and motivated to continue pushing their lives forward,” Rugama said. “I’m excited to meet people from other countries that are all here in hopes of contributing to make their countries better.”

Agnes Castillo, a student at the Center for English as a Second Language from Panama, said that she was excited to be able to represent her country in the parade.

“My heart is full of pride being here representing Panama,” Castillo said.

John Dunn, interim chancellor, gave remarks to the community at the end of the kickoff.

“The one message I want to share with you today is – thank you for being here,” Dunn said to the group of international students. “A university can not be a truly great university unless it’s an international university.”

Dunn said that the university wants to make sure the international community feels welcome and supported.

“Not only are you receiving great education – you’re helping all of us understand more about the world, the peoples of the world and the humanity that we share,” Dunn said. “If there’s ever a time that in the United States – or for that matter in the world – where we need to embrace, understand, really appreciate and value who we are as a people and a humanity that we share – it is now.”


There are students from nearly 100 different countries enrolled at the university and about half of the doctoral degrees conferred at the university are from international students, Carver said.