More than 100 students attended Unity Night on June 22, an event hosted by the BYU–Hawaii Australia Club and the Pacific Art & Soul Project. In a joint effort, they were able to bring together different Pacific Island clubs in efforts to disband cultural cliques and separation according to students. The night saw seven clubs collaborating to promote unity among the students through displays of cultural dance, spoken word, poetry, and modern dance.
Australia Club President Elijah Lemusuifeauali'i, a sophomore majoring in Pacific Island studies and fine arts, said bringing people of different cultures together is what they “were trying to emphasize. It is based on the Australia Club theme, which is ‘cultivating a culture of Christ.’
“The goal of the event was to highlight student success, their talents, their skills, and highlight their diversity which is what makes us who we are. We wanted to emphasize how all the diversity we have makes us a united people,” Lemusuifeauali'i explained.
Tyrell Gemmell, a senior majoring in psychology from New Zealand, said, “I believe BYU–Hawaii, to some degree, has systems of separation between different ethnicities. However, this event was able to incorporate elements of different cultures varying throughout the campus.”
Gemmell said, “We saw how we can be united through the various performances that displayed a variety of talent. I think we should all work together to help our campus become unified and this event helped because of the diversity of performance.”
The clubs involved were Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, Fiji, Melanesia and the Afro World clubs. Additionally, the Pacific Art & Soul, a project ran by Ma’a Paongo that showcases the diversity and talent of BYUH, also helped direct Unity Night in their goal to present and join together different clubs, according to Paongo.
Pacific Art & Soul is a performance art event that helps empower, inspire and encourage students at BYUH to build, share and continue to develop their talent. “For Polynesians, music has always been a form of art to share to tell a story and even sometimes to find healing,” explained Paongo, a senior majoring in business from New Zealand.
She added, “Unity Night was a favorite event for me while here at BYUH. It was awesome to combine cultural performances with modern performances. It was great to see a variety of talent from a diverse group. I’m grateful for the Australian Club for allowing us to collaborate with them.”
According to Lemusuifeauali'i, the event had been rigorously planned for several weeks in advance. “We were extensive in our planning because we planned everything to the very detail. Making sure we had all our performers, the times they were on, the setup, who’s providing food and so forth.”
The event included spoken word, poetry, rapping, dances from the Samoa and Fiji Club, break dancing and a combined dance at the conclusion of the event.
Lemusuifeauali'i said, “The performances were really good because we were able to combine with the Art & Soul Project. It was really cool to have our clubs provide traditional performances and then the project showcase the new and modern generation performances.”