A total of 14 associations representing different cultures were present on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at the BYU-Idaho multicultural associations  opening meeting.

Each students who attended the cultural event got to know more about what they had to offer to the school. Out of the 14 associations present, the Guatemalan, the Armenian/Georgian, The Peruvian and the Albanian Associations are  all new.

Every year, student associations hold this event, and dozens of students come to join the associations.

“I’m an avid participant,” said Naomi Zenteno, a senior studying health science. “We always dance; there’s a lot of dancing. You learn about the culture. We have get-togethers, and pot lucks. It’s really nice to get to know other people on campus.”

The ethnic statistics at BYU-I show that, out of the 20,468 students enrolled this semester, 85.55 percent of the students are white, according to the BYU-I website.

Minorities, such as Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native and others, make up the rest of the school population.

Selena Morales, president of the Guatemalan Association, and a junior studying nursing, said the goal is to help students remember who they are.

“We want to make sure nobody forgets their roots or where they come from, where their families come from,” Morales said.

Michael Bongioanni, president of the Japanese Association and a sophomore studying automotive engineering, said he started attending these events because he served a foreign mission and did not want to forget that culture.

“I came back here (from the mission), and I felt that I needed some relief to speak Japanese. I got invited to this association and I was like ‘Man, I love this, I might as well try out a leadership role,’ and now I’m here,” Bongioanni said.

Bongioanni said the leaders of Student Associations are with students one step at a time, and ensure a stress free environment.

One of these leaders is Dave Nagata, an advisor for the Student Activities Center who oversees Student Associations and Talent Activities. He said he enjoys Student Associations and sees it as a scope into the students’ various cultures and world.

He said his main focus is working with the directors, coordinators and the presidents, but it is the students who are running the show.

“This is their brainchild,” Nagata said. “They think it through; they decide how they want to run it. I’m just more of an advisor.”

Jared Lopez, a junior studying exercise physiology, said students will have the opportunity to meet new people in Student Associations and get free food.