YSA 5th ward’s activity unites admirers of the wizardly world of Harry Potter

Students who attended the dance dressed up as Harry Potter characters.

Photo by Munkhbayar Magvandorj

Most student-led dances allow students to dress casually, but the Young Single Adult Fifth Ward/stake activity on March 11, 2022, gave attendees the choice to dress up as students of Hogwarts instead of BYU–Hawaii.

With music and colored lights flashing, students danced throughout the night while being surrounded by themed adornments and a program filled with references to the wizarding school.

Bringing people together

Tanner Sharek, a senior from Colorado majoring in hospitality and tourism management, was one of the three members of the planning committee for the dance. He said the members in the committee each shared some interest and connection to Harry Potter, which eventually became their theme.

Harry Potter is “one of those universal things that brings people together” and people don’t have to know much about it to enjoy it, he explained.

Another committee member, Megan Cancienne, a junior from Louisiana majoring in peacebuilding, said growing up, her father read the Harry Potter books and her family would attend the film premieres and book releases.

She added JK Rowling brought the world of Hogwarts to life through her books. “It kind of makes [me] feel like a kid again. … The world she created is so intricate and so real.”

Committee member Sara Mafi, a junior from Orange Country, California, majoring in linguistics, said she grew up watching Harry Potter film marathons with her family, which brought them together. For this reason, she said Harry Potter books and films mean a lot to her and her family from her.

Sharek shared the theme of Harry Potter evokes childish reactions because it is a popular subject of interest. Mafi explained the dance theme allows students to connect to their childhood memories and relive their feelings.

A place for everyone

Brigham Martin, a 2021 BYUH alumnus from Laie, said everyone can find a place in the Harry Potter world. Attendees wore colored wristbands that represented four different houses in Hogwarts: Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Each house represents certain values, he added, which people can identify with.

Martin said he and his girlfriend, Ploy Chairaska, wore blue wristbands representing the Ravenclaw house. The Ravenclaw house’s values ​​are wisdom and intelligence, I added.

The yellow wristband represents those in the Hufflepuff house, while red ones indicated members in Gryffindor and green wristbands symbolized those of the Slytherin house, explained Martin.

In his ward meeting, Martin shared they connected a quote by Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore to a quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard. Martin quoted Dumbledore and said, “If there’s one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love.” Voldemort is the main antagonist character in the Harry Potter franchise who represents evil.

Quoting Elder Ballard, Martin said, “There is no greater expression of love than the heroic Atonement performed by the Son of God.” The goal of the activity, he added, was to unite the ward in love, which led to the event’s slogan “Defend against the dark arts with love.”

Martin connected Hogwarts to the purpose of the university. “[BYUH] is similar to Hogwarts where it has a driven mission to empower students spiritually, physically and mentally in sharing the gospel, living the gospel and studying education.”

Ploy Chairaska, a 2021 BYUH alumni, said she enjoyed seeing people with a common interest coming together. Similarly, she added, it reflects how students attend BYUH and its events because they share the same faith.

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