BYU performers enhance Church image

Students of BYU traveling around the world are influencing the public's opinion of the Church for good, said BYU Pres. Merrill J. Bateman.

Welcoming members of the International Society to BYU on Aug. 18, Elder Bateman of the Seventy said during the past month he had the opportunity to travel with the university's International Folk Dancers to Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland.This experience, he said, illustrates one example of the positive image students take with them as they represent the Church and the university.

During the trip, Elder Bateman watched the dancers perform on the main square of Old Town in Warsaw. At first only a few missionaries and investigators gathered around the stage. But "by the time they were finished there were more than 1,000 people packed in the square, cheering and asking for more," recounted Elder Bateman.

He said that Poland's Minister of Education and her husband wanted to learn more about the students.

Elder Bateman said they asked him, "Who are these young people from America? We have not seen this type of young person from America before."

In Kladno, Czech Republic - where there are no Church members - the dancers had a similar experience, noted Elder Bateman.

A hall that seats 500 was rented for the performance. The BYU president said there was trepidation and concern that it might not be filled.

However, more than 800 people attended the performance, 300 of whom stood for two hours. The local TV station, which had agreed to tape five minutes of the production taped most of the event. Much of the audience stayed long after the performance was over, hoping to see more.

"The Lord is moving, we think, to open the door for us to be a player in the international scene beyond anything we have seen before," Elder Bateman concluded.

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