Although the Alliance Academy International (AAI) has always had a certain number of Ecuadorian citizens, it has not been until recently that they have taken on the civic responsibility to honor the national flag in a common scholarly event known as “Jura a La Bandera.” It literally means “The Pledge to the Flag.”
On Friday, February 20, Stephen had the opportunity to play a small part in this school-wide ceremony. The top nine students from the sixth grade class and the high school senior class were selected to participate in the ceremony while other students and their parents came to watch. There were other students who participated from ninth through eleventh grade in carrying in the flags from all the countries represented by the student body.
According to a letter sent out to parents and teachers, “The reason to celebrate this event is to teach our students civic respect that we should have to Ecuador, where we live; because of this, we would like to point out the following:
a. Ecuadorians are obligated to pledge to the flag.
b. For those who have double nationality, it is optional; they can pledge to the flag or show a sign of respect to the flag
c. Foreigners do not have to pledge to the flag, only show respect.”
During the event, the sixth graders and twelve graders who participated wore black pants or skirts and white shirts and white kid gloves. The ceremony began at 2:30pm and ended at 3:30. Cristina was unable to go, because it was in the middle of Jared’ naptime, and she was at home with the boys.
Stephen participated in the beginning of the ceremony by giving an invocation prayer. Stephen commented that this was the only part of the ceremony performed in English. The rest of the ceremony was done in Spanish.
After all the flags were brought into the room, there was a collective “promise” given by both the sixth grade class and the senior class to honor and respect their country and the flag of their country.
Then all the students from elementary school through high school marched up in rows to honor the flag in the way they saw fit. For Ecuadorian citizens, this meant actually kissing the flag and saluting it while walking by. For foreign students, there were roses made available for them to take to the flag and leave there.
Although Stephen did not understand much of the language being said, he could understand the sentiments given. For him, it was a good experience in seeing how Ecuadorians place importance on honoring their nation’s flag.