Hanging Around the World concert brings cultural awareness and collaborationJul 28, 2017 01:20PM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen
Participants from around the world learn more about the Kombat with Kindness movement that began at Utah Valley University.(Keyra Kristoffersen)
Utah is home to many international students here to study to increase their knowledge and training so that when they return home they can apply those skills to create better futures for themselves and their families. LudoNation is an organization dedicated to assist in the process of acclimating international students and refugees to United States culture and how best to navigate what can sometimes be a complicated system.
“It’s a platform for international students and refugees to come together and be involved and get accustomed to culture in the US,” said Ludovica Giusti, the founder of LudoNation.
Giusti is the current title holder for Miss United Nations USA and founded LudoNation over a year ago as the service platform for the pageant because it was something she cared deeply about and finally had a loud enough voice to make people listen.
“I ran for this pageant, and I promoted my foundation, and now I’m Miss Nations of the World. I own LudoNation and this is our very first big event called Hanging around the World,” said Giusti.
Over 23 performers came out on July 1 to the Utah Cultural Celebration Center to celebrate various cultures and people through music and dance including groups like Bless4, who flew in from Japan and Keilana Mokulehua, from Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I’m super happy that Ludo asked me to come up here,” said Mokulehua. “This is an amazing opportunity.”
Mokulehua has been singing and playing guitar for five years and began making Facebook Live videos of some of her originals songs when, she said, Giusti saw one and got in touch with her to come be a part of the festival. She loves music because, despite her shyness, performing has brought her out of her shell and allowed Mokulehua to express herself.
“My dream is to build a following around the world to just promote positivity and being able to express yourself,” said Mokulehua, who is currently working on releasing her first album later in 2017 and is travelling to other countries, like New Zealand, to perform.
Giusti hoped that the music festival has an impact on how different communities interact and share with each other because it’s important to her that everyone has the opportunity to share themselves but also break down walls that keep them from great experiences.
“It pushes people from other cultures and other walks of life to come together and share their talents, especially in a community that is not your own,” Giusti said.
One group in attendance was Days for Girls, an organization with over 850 chapters in 100 countries throughout the world that began in 2008 as a way to make feminine hygiene kits along with educational materials to give to adolescent girls who wouldn’t have access otherwise.
“A lot of the girls stop going to school, drop out after they start their periods, so giving them these kits, hopefully they can go to school, get an education, get a better position in life,” said Amy Cannon, who has been interning with Days for Girls for six months after volunteering on and off for several years before that.
The kits are sewn by individuals and supplies are donated by communities and the goal is to donate kits to one million women and girls before the end of 2017.
Joseph Robinson was there to represent Kombat with Kindness, a movement that started at Utah Valley University in 2016 after the Department of Homeland Security began contacting schools to help combat violent extremism and sow harmony on social media.
“Basically,” said Robinson, “there’s a lot of bad out there in the world that’s broadcast through social media, so instead of hearing all the bad that’s on social media, we think people are a lot better than that, we just want to flood the media and just combat all that darkness.”
Allies of Kombat with Kindness are asked to share positive stories and images as a way to break up the negativity that has been circulating the nation at a near constant rate and believe that as Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
The Hanging Around the World event, which Giusti says she plans on having every year, was a big effort designed by herself and interns from BYU and UVU, where LudoNation is an official internship program.
“We put a lot of work into this and we’re really excited it’s actually happening. We got pretty awesome performers,” said intern Caroline Serreira from UVU.
Giusti said she is hoping to grow the internship program to other schools in Utah because it helps the students and the people that they work with have a purpose and feel needed in society.
“People are one word away from knowing what you think, so put yourself out there and pursue your dreams,” said Giusti.
To learn more about the LudoNation foundation, go to: https://www.ludonation.org/
For information about getting involved with Days for Girls, visit: https://www.daysforgirls.org/