Thai students hold annual Sports Day

By By Edgar Zuniga Jr.

By Edgar Zuniga Jr.

More than 8,000 miles away from home, Thai students gathered to share a love of sports and culture last weekend.

As part of their annual Sports Day, about 40 Thai students from the U and Utah State University gathered at HPER East building on Saturday where they played badminton, volleyball and chairball, a traditional Thai sport. The game is similar to basketball, but instead of using hoops, players aim at copper-colored wicker baskets.

“These events are important because we are a small community and we like to know each other,” said Adirek Janwong, a graduate student in metallurgical engineering and president of the Thai Student Association at the U.

The group participates in two major events every year — Sports Day in the fall and the Songkran festival, the Thai New Year celebration, in the spring. Thai students at the U have been holding Sports Day since 1999. Students from both schools also come together at the Thai Buddhist Temple in Layton during religious holidays.

“The Thai Student Association is willing to help you in all the things that you struggle with in a new country, and it’s nice to make friends from your country,” said Veerawan Uangudom, a junior in accounting.

Uthaiwan Charoensiri is one of 20 people involved with the Thai Student Association. Charoensiri came to Utah after her husband received a scholarship from a Thai university to study in the United States. Her husband is now completing a doctoral degree in geography.

“Salt Lake (City) belongs to us, too, now,” Charoensiri said. “When we go to Thailand, we miss it here. It was hard to leave my country, but now it’s also hard to leave this one.”

She said having an organization such as the Thai Student Association is good because it helps newcomers adjust to Utah.

“(Thailand) is a small country, but our country is rich in language, food, history and culture,” said Sarawut Jansuwan, a USU doctoral student in civil engineering and president of the school’s Thai Student Association. “We want American students to know about Thai hospitality, friendship and the importance of a smile for us. Thai people are very welcoming and open-minded.”

Laddau Lynch, a Thai woman who participated in the event, agreed.

“I enjoy (the students). They’re so good and so nice,” she said. “We offer them food or whatever they need — cars to take a trip, or if they need pots and pans to cook, I give it to them.”

For more information about Thai events, e-mail the association at [email protected]

[email protected]