Students help establish new Libyan banner in Global Services
By Jordana King, International Programs intern
PULLMAN, Wash. - Sarah Debbek anxiously leaned toward the computer screen, eyes glued on the urgent update: Hundreds dead. She scrolled through the names, dreading to find a relative or friend killed in the massacre.
"It was really hard to watch from far away,” said Debbek, a Washington State University digital technology and culture student from Libya, about last year’s uprising in her home country. "I would just sit … and read … and wait to see someone I knew.”
"You just don’t feel like school is your first priority,” said Abdelrhman Mohamed, a biomedical engineering student from Libya, about his reaction to the revolution. "You feel like it’s your priority to tell the world about what’s happening in your country.”
The Libyan flag, with the white crescent and star, is shown
in the middle of the row of flags in the WSU Global Services
Debbek and Mohamed, two of 35 Libyan students enrolled at WSU this semester, recently introduced the new Libyan flag to the display of world banners in WSU’s Global Services office in Bryan Hall. The retro design harkens back to the 1951-69 Kingdom of Libya. It replaces the green banner that represented the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.
"I took the (old) flag down when he was captured (in October),” said Debbek, who later pushed for the new banner to be installed. She provided fabric and a sewing pattern to a local business, Quilted Hearts, for a new flag to match the size and shape of the Global Services display.
Libya’s new banner displays three horizontal bands of red, black and green with a white crescent and star centered on the black. The colors represent the three major regions of the country and the Islam religion, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The transition commemorates the end of the Libyan Revolution, a nine-month uprising against dictator Gadhafi and in pursuit of human rights and social justice. Although Gadhafi’s four-decade rule came to an end, controversy remains among Libyans as they continue "restoring their identities,” said Mohamed.
For Debbek and Mohamed, that restoration starts at WSU. They join a diverse international population in enriching the culture and keeping the university abreast of global issues with local impact.
"The sacrifices that the country made are now the base,” Debbek said. "There’s hope. We can do it now.”
On June 23, under the new flag, the people of Libya will vote for the first time in 60 years.
"Things can change,” Debbek said. "You only need to believe.”