Contributing to the International Women’s Day Celebration at UVU

Utah Valley University (UVU) students and faculty participated in several events on March 7 and 8, 2016 highlighting International Women’s Day as well as recognizing Leslie DeeAnn Mower, co-founder of the company Neways for all of her great contributions to Utah Valley University and elsewhere. Events were held on campus at Utah Valley University.

On Monday March 7th a celebration was held for International Women’s Day. I was able to participate in a student round table, where myself and three my other colleagues, amazing students Mary Cisneros, Kiersten DumasMegan Raines and myself shared their experiences and thoughts about the International Women’s Day as well as the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference that was held at UVU in October 7-9, 2016. All of us were members of the organizing committee of the conference and were proud to contribute to its successful hosting at UVU.

After the student round table we heard a presentation from Peggy Pasin, a representative of the Women’s Success Center at UVU and watched a documentary “To Climb a Gold Mountain” that was created by filmmaker Alex Azmi. Alex Azmi came to UVU from Los Angeles by invitation of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU. Our members were impressed by his documentary during the fundraising event in Salt Lake City, when we raised funds for the conference. Alex Azmi answered questions about the film, a story of four Chinese women who lived in Los Angeles between the middle of the 19th century until recent times. The event was a success and certificates of appreciation from the United Nations Mountain Partnership were given to those who participated in conducting the International Women of the Mountains Conference.

During my presentation as round table participant, I was able to speak about my experiences in assisting with the International Women of the Mountains Conference, how I helped people register for the conference, find where they needed to be as well as participate in the video interviews that were taken featuring many guests from around the world. I was also able to share my achievements of collaborating with many amazing students at UVU to gather signatures for a petition that advocated for a more detailed look at mountainous communities while the climate change discussions were happening at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December of 2015. Together with many of our colleagues in Kyrgyzstan, Colombia, and Russia we were able to gather many signatures through our efforts. It was a very great night to be able to share my experiences as well as receive a certificate of appreciation for the work that I did.

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(L to R): Dr. Pierre Padiukov, Leslie DeeAnn Mower, Meerim Abdrisaeva and

Dr. Cholpon Almatalieva After Presenting an Honorary Doctorate Degree

On Tuesday March 8th Leslie DeeAnn Mower was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree from The International University of Kyrgyzstan. Guests were honored to hear from Ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev, Dr. Danielle Butler, Dr. Pierre Padiukov, and Mrs. Leslie DeeAnn Mower. I was privileged to translate Dr. Pierre Padiukov’s speech about Leslie DeeAnn Mower’s achievements. Dr. Pierre Padiukov is the Vice Rector of the International University of Kyrgyzstan, he and Dr. Cholpon Akmatalieva presented Mrs. Mower her award and regalia.

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Dr. Pierre Padiukov and Darian Hackney during official ceremony Honoring Mrs. Leslie DeeAnn Mower

I was able to speak with Mrs. Mower and assist to Dr. Pierre Padiukov, which was an extraordinary experience for me, as a second semester student in a Russian Language class. However, I was so honored to be a part of the ceremony. The experience had encouraged me to continue learning Russian. Another great experience from this week for me that I was being able to get to know Alex Azmi, who created the documentary that we watched on March 7th. I was able to converse with him and a member of the board of trustees for the university at my table. It was an incredible experience that I wasn’t expecting. I gained several new relationships and gained confidence speaking in front of people.

The two events were very successful and effectively celebrated International Women’s Day and honored accomplishments of male and female students as well as recognize Mrs. Mower for her accomplishments as a successful businesswoman, and sponsor of many programs at UVU and the State of Utah assisting women, families and promoting cooperation between different mountain communities, including Kyrgyzstan and Utah.

It was so nice, that each woman received a rose after the ceremony for Mrs. Mower. It was my first experience celebrating International Women’s Day and it is not one that I will soon forget. I have made incredible relationships and I was able to be a part of something worthwhile to many.

Darian Hackney, UVU student