BYU-Idaho Student Activities is hosting the Student Associations kickoff Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Gordon B. Hinckley Building gym.

There are over 30 student associations on the BYU-I campus, several of them being named after a culture. But students do not have to be a certain nationality to be in a student association.

Edward Doyle, a junior studying computer science, was the president of the Celtic Association Fall Semester 2015. He became the president after attending the kickoff and learning about the opening.

“The point of these activities is to create opportunities for people to meet other people,” Doyle said. “It can be pretty difficult on campus away from family, many people for the first time. It gives people an opportunity to learn about cultures and to form these bonds, be it relationships or friendships that can help people get through difficult times and enrich the BYU-Idaho experience.”

Doyle said the kickoff is important for students to attend to learn about the associations. Any student can join any association. There are no fees and no prerequisites.

“The cultural associations on campus are for those who want the enjoyment and enrichment of traveling the world without the price of a ticket,” Doyle said.

The event will have booths for every association that has a president. Each booth will have food associated with its ethnic group, lots of people to talk to and information about meeting times.

Alessandro Baielli, a junior majoring in international studies, is the director for Student Associations. His job is to supervise a council of students who then supervise the associations.

“The kickoff is a great way for people to learn about an organization they can be involved in throughout the semester,” Baielli said.

Baielli said they will have a separate booth for the associations that do not currently have a president. He said Student Associations will try to have a representative for each group.

“They aren’t necessarily from that country,” Baielli said. “They just have a passion for it.”

Ming “Leo” Geng, a sophomore studying electrical engineering, was born in China, but was the president of the French Association last semester. He learned the French language and culture while on his mission in Montreal, Canada, and wanted to share that with students at BYU-I.

“Even though you are the president, you are still a servant,” Geng said. “The main purpose of the Student Associations for foreign students is to feel like home and to promote the culture to the people on the campus.”

Angie Mendoza, a junior studying humanities, is a full-blooded Filipina and president of the Filipino society for the second semester. She said she has found ways to implement the learning model into her presidency.

“When I became president in 2013, I had this goal of having it innovative and implementing the learning model in a way that’s not boring or unattractive to students, but in a way that blends in with the culture,” Mendoza said. “Being a leader, the most important priority is not to boss people around, but to nurture future leaders.”

Students who cannot attend the kickoff can join an association throughout the semester by visiting the Student Activities office, its Facebook page or the Web page at