By ALI ANDERSON
Heritage Week has given BYU students an educational glimpse of cultural diversity, said LaVay Talk, BYU multicultural counselor.
Although several countries are represented by BYU’s student body, many students are not exposed to foreign traditions, she said.
“The purpose (of Heritage Week) is being able to share. A lot of students probably have very little interaction with other cultures,” Talk said.
However, students have built unity during Heritage Week by learning about cultural diversity, Talk said. Activities began March 18 and will end Saturday afternoon.
“The purpose of the activities is to show that we’re all in this together. We’re all brothers and sisters,” Talk said.
The week’s activities included a Latin American Fiesta, Polynesian Luau and Multicultural Alumni Dinner. The authentic costumes and dances were enjoyed by audiences, said Liana Brown, BYU on-campus educational coordinator.
“We were overwhelmed with support. More people from the community came than ever before,” Brown said.
The Latin American Fiesta and Tuesday’s Luau were sell-outs, Brown said.
Heritage Week activities have been planned and executed almost exclusively by BYU student volunteers. Involvement in the activities helps student volunteers develop leadership skills, said student volunteer Revina Largo.
“It has really helped me to learn to organize and plan as a team. I have developed important skills that will help me after I graduate,” said Largo, 22, a senior from Gallup, N.M., majoring in human biology.
Although Heritage Week is sponsored by BYU Multicultural Student Services, all student volunteers are not natives of foreign countries. However, many volunteers have gained more insight and appreciation for foreign cultures through their participation, Largo said.
Largo said her experience as a Heritage Week volunteer has increased her gratitude for her ancestors.
“It helps me to appreciate who I am. It gives me the courage to continue at BYU and work to help my people,” Largo said.
Activities have also been educational for audience members, Largo said.
“I think those who attend learn about different cultures and what’s unique about them. Hopefully they have come to appreciate our cultures a bit more,” she said.
The 18th annual Harold A. Cedartree Memorial Pow Wow will bring the Heritage Week activities to a close this weekend. Dancers and drum groups from the United States and Canada will compete for prize money, totaling $16 million.
The Pow Wow will be held in the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom today from 7 p.m. to midnight, and Saturday from 1 to 11 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at 3326 WSC (formerly ELWC). The cost is $2 for children and students with BYU ID, $3 without ID.