On October 5th, 2018, The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), (www.utahimf.org) co-hosted the Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the United Nations (UN), Mr. Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov. Ambassador Mahmadaminov visited Utah during October 3-6, 2018. He made his major presentation titled: Tajikistan and the SDGs before UVU students and faculty on October 5, 2018. As part of established tradition, the UVU Office of Global Engagement provided an opportunity to members of the Foreign Affairs Club and UIMF through student engaged learning model to highlight UIMF’s accomplishments in SDG advocacy at the local, national, and international levels since 2011. This was as well as follow up on previous discussions and activities held by UIMF delegation and myself with PR of Tajikistan to the UN at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in July of 2018. In addition, it was an opportunity for UIMF to discuss joint activities at the UN in 2019 with focus on implementation of mountain targets.
Personally, I really enjoyed helping to co-host Mr. Mahmadaminov due to my keen interest in Central Asia, and I am very grateful I can expand my own knowledge and raise an awareness about countries of the region among my peers.
A group photo with Ambassador Mahmadaminov
In order to demonstrate how the student engaged learning model works more than ten members of UIMF were involved in preparations and co-hosting the VIP-guest. In order to coordinate their efforts as a team and to do that successfully we gathered every week and followed up with assignments defined in a special task list posted online, it was important for my peers at our coalition of clubs.
I helped to some members of UIMF, like Joseph Lloyd, Hagen Issakson, Megan Davis, to learn how to coordinate with the UVU Office of Global Engagement our plans in highlighting before the high-level dignitary in a special meeting their concern about lack of sustainable development among mountain communities globally and what UIMF was able to do accomplish in that area since founding in 2011.
The meeting was attended by many students, including the Post-Soviet and Political Science classes, brought by our faculty, like Dr. Abdrisaev and Dr. England. During UIMF’s meeting with Mr. Mahmadaminov, many students were able to highlight UIMF’s accomplishments through a series of presentations. I introduced every speaker – member of UIMF. Mr. Hagen Isaacson, the Foreign Affairs Club Treasurer, was the first to give an overview of UIMF activities in promoting the UN sustainable mountain development agenda since 2011 and presented Mr. Mahmadaminov with a folder of documents highlighting UIMF’s in the UN official documents and recent commendation in the Congressional Record. Hagen also discussed why mountain targets are so important and how UIMF has a long history of advocating for mountain people. He emphasized a focus of Tajikistan on implementation of the SDG#6 on water and that the mountain target# 6.6 is included in that SDG. He proposed that it would be great if Tajikistan will work with UIMF and UVU on their joint implementation in 2019 at the UN. Next, Ms. Megan Davis, Director of Public Relations at UIMF, explained how UIMF implements student engaged learning to advocate for the implementation of mountain targets locally, nationally, and internationally since 2011. Next up was Mr. Mark Driggs, Vice-President of Campus Outreach, who highlighted UIMF’s most recent activities at the United Nations, namely Commission of the Status of Women and the 2018 HLPF on Sustainable Development. Ms. Viktoriia Bahrii, vice president of logistics, spoke next on partnerships with various NGOs and permanent missions, noting our successful co-hosting of a side event with the Permanent Missions of Uzbekistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ms. Bahrii then invited Mrs. Marcia Barlow, Vice President of International Programs for United Families International (UFI) to discuss further United Families International-UN relations and also highlight activities her NGO participates in Central Asia. After that, I introduced to Ambassador Mahmadaminov the Youth and the Mountains Journal, a student-run journal student reasearch on sustainable mountain development.
At the end of the meeting, Abeir Isawhy, UVU student, was provided an opportunity to ask question about Tajikistan and in particular a new dam which country plans to build now. Ambassador explained how the dam would benefit both Tajikistan’s economy and its neighbors as well.
I learned a lot also when Mr. Mahmadaminov had a lecture on Tajikistan and the implementation of the SDGs in the country. Tajikistan is a country not many people know about and seeing members of UIMF and the Foreign Affairs learn about a unique country was truly great. Tajikistan, and Mr. Mahmadaminov in particular, have championed the cause of SDG6, which focused on clean water and sanitation. During my visit to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in July of 2018, I was invited to a follow-up presentation on Tajikistan’s Water Decade Initiative. Learning about this initiative at an in-depth level was very fascinating, and it was great to see how Tajikistan has continued to promote sustainable water use. This is particularly pertinent to UIMF’s activities as SDG 6.6 deals directly with water preservation in mountainous regions.
Ambassador Mahmadaminov also had a lot to say about counterterrorism and national security matters. I found this to be particularly interesting because I am focusing primarily on Central Asian national security issues, which Tajikistan plays a major role. I was very happy to hear about Tajikistan’s initiatives related to national security.
Another important part of student engaged learning was the participation of several members of UMF at lunch in honor of the VIP-guest. UVU Global Engagement office does that during last several years to provide students an opportunity to strengthen their diplomatic abilities. I was happy to see that Andrew Jensen, Hagen Isaacson, Megan Davis, and Kendra, Martell, four members of UIMF were able to interact with Ambassador Mahmadaminov during lunch.
Overall, this visit was another success for UIMF and the Foreign Affairs Club in promoting the implementation of the mountain targets during 2018 and especially in co-hosting the first dignitary visit during the fall semester 2018. Many of them, like Hailee-Hodgson, Laila Mitchell, Brandon Pedler, Kyle Williams and others were able to work sucessfully as a team and see results of their efforts. Students in the audience, like Michael Hinatsu , Matthew Simon , Kenya Litster, Max Mortenson, Mary Nelson and Cory Levin had an opportunity to see and learn how engaged learning model works and get involved in future activities of UIMF if they would like. I am so incredibly proud of all my club members and the work they put in to ensure our contribution to hosting Mr. Mahmadaminov’s visit was successful.
Samuel Elzinga, President, UIMF and Foreign Affairs Club at UVU
UIMF MEMBERS ABOUT HOSTING AMBASSADOR MAHMADAMINOV
STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS