PROVO — 2019 is the Year of the Indigenous Language. To celebrate, the BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures held a Polynesian language-and-culture-themed event last night where visitors could feel the aloha spirit, the talofa spirit, the arofa spirit, and more.
Visitors received passports to “explore” various island nations represented throughout the museum.
Dave Nielsen, instructional coordinator for the BYU Center for Language studies, explained the important reason behind this celebration: “There are some of the languages that are indigenous, that without us preserving them, then their culture and their heritage will be lost.”
Preservation is key when Pacific Islanders make up just 1.26 percent of the Provo population.
“Culture is the way that we look at a family being together,” said Seni Teulilo, Provo resident and volunteer at the event.
“With the Tongan culture itself, everybody knows their place. There’s a structure that helps us in everything we do in our daily lives. And as far as the culture, it is what brings everybody together,” said Teulilo.
The BYU Language Department plans to host similar events in the future to help educate Provo on the diverse nature of the community.