France flag, three dimensional render, satin texture

The Flags We Don’t See


By Olivia Clarke


The first I heard about the Paris attacks was Friday evening, on Facebook. At that time, the death count was much lower than it is now, and I didn’t absorb the gravity of the situation. The next morning, however, I woke up to a number of messages from friends and family members – they knew I was in France, and they wanted to make sure I was okay. I started to realize at that point that this was a big deal, and I assured everyone that I was safe, seven hours from Paris.

On Monday, my classmates and I joined the rest of the university in observing the national moment of silence at noon. The professor led an emotional class discussion about the tragedy and showed us photos of buildings around the world that were lit up in blue, white, and red as a gesture of solidarity. We watched video clips of New Yorkers and Londoners singing the “Marseillaise” in the street.

I was moved by the sentiment expressed in these photos and videos, but I was also troubled. I thought to myself, “Where’s the Syrian flag, or the Lebanese flag? Who’s singing the Iraqi national anthem?” People in other parts of the world experience these horrific events every day – terror, bombings, executions, war. It’s a constant reality, not an isolated incident. Yet we don’t show this kind of solidarity with them – likely because they aren’t white or rich like France. To us Westerners, tragedies like the one in Paris seem unbelievable; but in fact, they just give us a tiny glimpse into the horrors that so much of the world experiences so frequently. Maybe it’s time to start seeing past our own privilege, and to start being horrified by the atrocities committed against human beings who live outside of our comfortable Western sphere.

Where is your next destination?

What if you had all the time and money to travel wherever you liked? Where would you want to go?

I spend quite a lot of time daydreaming about traveling and experiencing a new culture. When I come across beautiful and extravagant scenery of various countries, I can’t help but imagine what the place would have to offer me. The knowledge and experience I would gain from the sightseeing, climate and people would be stories I would tell for years to come.

I am interested in studying or working abroad at some point before I graduate. The high cost and the lack of financial resources somewhat discourage me. But I attended the first Education Abroad Fair of the year on October 4th in the Smith Ballroom, and I grabbed numerous brochures about study abroad programs and international internships.

Community development is my field of study. I have decided that I want to get some hands-on experience working with disadvantaged populations. I have heard from one of my peers, the IE3 program has many global internships to offer ( The two internship locations I am most intrigued by are South Africa and Nicaragua. I would like to gain a better understanding about sustainable community development as well as global issues such as gender inequality, racism, and poverty in developing countries.

To learn more about education abroad, visit this site:
Or you can visit the study abroad office in East Hall, 632 SW Hall St.
Drop-in hours:
• Tuesdays: 12-1pm
• Wednesdays: 1-2pm
• Fridays: 10-11am