The Chinese flag raised at a 2016 Rio Olympics medal ceremony had a major design flaw: the four small stars were aligned parallel to each other rather than rotated towards the larger star. Classrooms all around the world are learning more about flags to better understand the countries, values, and movements they represent. As a result, students develop international mindedness, empathy, and respect.
We’re excited to celebrate 12 PenPals of the Week who recently completed Flags of the World: Faith from the United States, Julia, Keira, Soleil, Summer, Alana, and Catherine from Canada, Ahmed and Hezha from Iraq, and Akshara, Auritro, and Amrutha from India.
These PenPals discussed why flags are used and how they are designed. In the process, they learned more about the core values that many countries hold and made their own flags to represent themselves and their communities.
Faith R from the United States did a great job of explaining the symbolism behind her state and national flag to her fellow PenPals.
“In the Ohio flag, the large blue triangle represents Ohio's hills and valleys, and the stripes represent roads and waterways. The 13 stars grouped about the circle represent the original states of the union. The 4 stars added to the peak of the triangle symbolize that Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the union.” - Faith R from United States
“But there is also the United States flag, which means many things as well. The white pales (the vertical stripes) signify purity and innocence, red pales signify hardiness & valour, and blue, the color of the chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.” - Faith R from United States
PenPals designed beautiful flags using colors and shapes that reflect their individual personalities and what their communities are like.
“My flag represents my friends and I. The first S is for my friend Shayla and the A is for myself. The second S is for my friend Summer and the H is for my friend Hannah. The four circles represent us. The hoop represents how close we are to each other and how we never leave each other in the dumps. The green background is for how calm Shayla is and the yellow is for me and how lucky I am to have them. The pink is for how generous Summer is and the purple and blue is for Hannah and how she is almost always happy.” - Alana C from Canada
“The four colors in the corner represent the four seasons in Canada. Winter used the colour blue to represent the snow, spring the color pink to represent the warmth, summer I used yellow to represent the heat, and orange for fall because of the falling leaves. The pancake represents the maple syrup that come from the tree and the bacon represents Canada's love of bacon!” - Catherine C from Canada
Other PenPals designed flags that represent universal values and passions that people from all over can relate to.
Some PenPals used more detailed images and symbols to celebrate and memorialize things they love.
“My flag represents all of the beautiful, wonderful colours in the world. The rainbow unicorn represents all of the weird, colourful, mysterious things. The pencil crayons are to show how much love there is in the world. The wolf, for the graceful, but vicious creatures. The hummingbird represents how fast life flies by. Finally, the deer is for everything wise on the earth.” - Soleil H from Canada
Flags are often used to identify groups of people, but can also promote specific causes or movements ranging from animal protection to world peace.
Hezha and Ahmed’s teacher told us that Flags of the World helped her students feel more included in the global community.
“[This project] is such a nice thing for these students because they are all the way in Iraq, and you know with the constant proxy wars, sometimes students don't see hope. However, little projects like these help them to feel positive and to be part of the world.”
Faith also reflected on how discussing flag designs taught her a lot about where other people come from.
“When we exchange information with each other I learn more and I teach more at the same time. It is like being a student and teacher at the same time. I love learning about where other people live and hope to learn more about their home.”
An appreciation for flags leads to an understanding of a country’s culture or a movement’s purpose. Designing original flags is a great way for students to summarize what matters most to them in a visual, memorable way.
Want to see what’s your students stand for? Enroll your class in Flags of the World, starting April 23rd.