UVU Students Talk About Sustainable Mountain Development With the Consul General of Chile to Los Angeles, Jorge Tagle Canelo

On June 27, 2016, Utah Valley University (UVU) was honored to welcome to campus the Consul General of Chile to Los Angeles, Jorge Tagle Canelo. The Consul General was hosted by student representatives of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU and the UVU Multicultural Center, including the UVU Latino initiative. The visit was organized as part of the initiative to host foreign dignitaries at the UVU campus through the students’ efforts which would allow them to learn skills in protocol, logistics, and how to build ties on global level.

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( L to R) : Jesler Molina, President of UIMF (2014-2015), Paige Robison, President, Foreign Affairs Club, Consul General of Chile to Los Angeles Jorge Tagle Canelo and Tony Medina, President UIMF during the meeting

Students had the opportunity to sit down with the Consul General and discuss a variety of topics, ranging from career advice, the United Nations Peacebuilding Coalition, and discussing the possibility of internships and university sponsored foreign language trips to Chile in the future. Most importantly, they were able to discuss the importance of sustainable mountain development and the specific challenges facing the Chilean nation in this endeavor.

The Consul General spoke about the challenges facing Chile as the mountainous nation strives to sustainably develop itself. He spoke of the balancing act between economic development and respect for indigenous peoples, which he explained is currently a major point of contention in Chile. He described the necessity of not imposing a system on people, but rather allowing the people to dictate and accept a system they feel is best for them. Furthermore, he described the need for clean and sustainable energy, especially in this age of climate change and in the midst of a large drought that is currently affecting his nation. Mr. Canelo also spoke very proudly of his country’s hosting of the second annual meeting of Our Ocean 2015.

The concept of this Our Ocean conference follows an initiative set in motion by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. In June of 2014, Secretary Kerry organized the first high level conference in Washington D.C. that brought together politicians, scientists, world leaders, businesspeople, environmentalists, and philanthropists from more than 90 countries that promised to strengthen the protection and conservation of the sea. (Nuestrooceano2015.gob.cl)

The Consul General, who has worked in different positions at the diplomatic missions of Chile to Italy, Lebanon, Turkey, the United Nations and European Union in Brussels throughout his 30-years as a career diplomat, was able to share some of his experiences and words of wisdom about what he has learned. The opportunity to travel to so many countries has allowed him to experience many different cultures and enabled him to see the world through many different perspectives. “Experiences, like mine, change you as a person. When you return to your home country, you realize that you have grown in one way or another. You begin to see events in the world from other perspectives and can empathize with other parts of the world for the situations they find themselves in,” said Mr. Canelo.   He also encouraged students to pursue a wealth of experiences rather than a wealth of money, stating that this is the true way to find satisfaction in a career.

The students were also able to present information about the 4th International Women of the Mountains Conference which is hosted every other year by students at UVU. Tony Medina, the President of the Utah International Mountain Forum, spoke with the Consul General about the objectives of the conference, and the role women play in improving mountain communities across the world in the areas of economic development, women in leadership, and family structures. He also mentioned the support provided to UVU and its students in 2011 when they hosted the second Women of the Mountains Conference by Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, the current President of Chile and previously, the first Executive Director of the UNWomen.

The Consul General was delighted to see our promotion of the importance of women’s involvement, not only in the issue of domestic sustainable mountain development, but in the international political arena as well. He stated that he has been “astonished by the work and clarity of women and their involvement in the international community.” He called for an increase in the recognition of women’s issues, not only by the women of the world, but also by men, stating that “women’s issues are the world’s issues.” Mr. Canelo also spoke of women entrepreneurs and their importance in developing countries, and was thrilled that a delegation of the UIMF was able to attend the sixtieth Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) in New York City in March of this year. Their purpose was to promote the Women of the Mountains Conference as a major gathering to advocate for the gender and sustainable mountain development agendas of the United Nations in North America. He also asked whether UVU and the UIMF are planning to sponsor a side event at next year’s CSW, which was something we were all excited about.

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UIMF members with Consul General of Chile to Los Angeles Jorge Tagle Canelo (Third from Right)

Consul General Canelo’s visit to UVU was a very productive and exciting opportunity for the students of UVU, and the UIMF in particular. While there are many things to follow-up with and new ideas to explore, the meeting itself was a testament to the professionalism and the dedication of the members of the UIMF. I know I speak for all of us when I say that we are all excited to see where things go in the future.

Paige Robison, President, Foreign Affairs Club, Utah Valley University