You go to the World Folk Festival in Springville, Utah!
In July this year, eight students from the Gorna Liyarn Indigenous dance group of Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) spent two weeks in America to attend the World Folk Festival. Whilst there, they shared their culture with people from all over the world, including spending time with a Native American group. Hanna Chulung shares her experience.
I am so honored to have represented my country and culture at the World Folk Festival in Utah. It was an incredible experience shared with many other countries. And to be able to do so through songs, stories and dance was just unbelievable.
It was such a humble experience to have collaborated with the Native American group, Morning Star, at the festival and to have performed for the public and the owners of the Chumash Museum in Los Angeles (LA). I was able to find out some of the history of Native Americans and compare Aboriginal culture with theirs. It was interesting to see how they lived, what their customs were, their beliefs and so much more. I had a lot of fun at the Chumash Museum because we were given a tour around the land that they owned and we were given special access to see a cave, where villagers would have gone on a hot day or where pregnant women would have gone to give birth.
Utah was a great adventure in itself: from the scenery of the mountains to my welcoming host family. We attended a street dance at Arts Park where we made a lot of connections with people that were also performing at the festival. The next day we spent eight hours rehearsing with the other countries for the opening and closing dances of the festival and were interviewed by the Morning Show of America.
We attended the Jamestown Retirement Village to perform for the elderly that were not able to make it to the festival and performed for them with Taiwan.
As our host families were Mormons, they took us to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, where we were given the chance to learn more about Mormon beliefs. It was an interesting insight into what they believe.
I think we performed with a lot of heart and soul in our dances. Every night was a blast, from performing our dances to watching the other cultures perform. The first night of the festival was a night that I will never forget. We walked out onto the stage after the Master of Ceremony introduced us and the whole crowd went quiet. It was an incredible moment! To us, we believed we were the least appealing group. We didn’t have large, extravagant costumes or make-up, like Bangladesh or Lithuania, and we feared we wouldn’t stand out to the crowd. According to the majority of people we were the most genuine dance group at the festival. That was a huge compliment to us.
Throughout the whole week that we performed we got better and better at what we were doing. Our eyes were strong and our movements were more controlled and precise. My favorite performance was on the last night when we invited the host families and Native American Indians on stage to dance with us. That night we also put up the teepee with the Morning Star group and joined them in a prayer ceremony, where they presented us with gifts to remember them.
The trip to America was a truly incredible experience that I will never forget.