The Student Associations Kickoff will took place May 5 in the Hinckley Gym. The event welcomed students who wanted to know more about the Student Associations, introduced those associations and invited students to participate.

While most associations are related to nationalities, others are related to veterans, American Sign Language and converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To be active, an association must have one president and six members attending activities regularly, according to the Student Associations Web page.

Students do not have to be from a particular nationality or specific group to join an association. They can join any association in which they have an interest, like former missionaries who miss the countries they served in or students who are curious about a culture, according to the Student Association Web page.

“My family has a very strong connection with Thailand,” said Rowland Grover, the president of the Thai Association and a junior majoring in international studies. “My mom is from Thailand. My dad served his mission there. I served my mission there, and my sister is currently serving her mission there. I love Thailand, Thai culture and the Thai people.”

Grover said associations will present things related to them. The Thai Association will bring food, display interesting things about Thai culture, play music and teach students to speak a few words in Thai.

“In the Kickoff, we present things related to each association, like food, music, language and curious things,” said Tiago Vidigal, an alumnus and former president of the Brazilian Student Association.

Vidigal said associations provide opportunities to learn from other cultures, meet others who might have served in the same mission as other students and improve language skills.

Besides the individual events of each association during the semester, larger events take place for all Student Associations to join together, like the Student Association’s World Cup, Musical Celebration and the Cultural Night.

“As an association, some of the things we will do will be having lessons on Thai language and culture; Asian Potluck dinner with the other Asian associations; World Cup tournament, playing a traditional Thai sport, volleyball with your feet; and doing a service project to help kids in Thailand,” Grover said. “This will be a great way to meet new people who share a love of the Land of Smiles.”

Nathan Watson, a member of Student Support, said in associations at other universities, students generally pay to organize their events, but at BYU-Idaho, they are blessed because they can count on a budget provided by the university.

Watson said these activities provide opportunities for growth by creating strong relationships and helping those who are feeling homesick.

John Umoren, a member of the African Heritage Association and a freshman studying computer information technology, said he is eager for the association’s activities to start and that he has never missed one since his first semester at BYU-I.

“The level of unity and love among the fellows are incomprehensible,” Umoren said. “I only knew two of them back in my country, but this day, I am friends with all. In fact, they are not my friends, but my family.”

Students can find more information about Student Associations by visiting its Web page.