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Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference


Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference

I recently attended the Model UN of the Far West Conference, which took place in San Francisco on April 21-25, 2017. The UN Charter was created in San Francisco, so the location of this conference is significant. I attended this conference with my Model UN class, and we all had the opportunity to represent the member state Kyrgyzstan.

(L to R): Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham, UVU team advisor, Alec Sorenson, Taylor Mansfield, Steven Johnson and Jon Downs

Why Kyrgyzstan? It was not a random but rather conscious choice: our school, Utah Valley University and State of Utah together with Kyrgyzstan have promoted the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations since 2006, and many of our students are involved in those activities. During the preparations to the MUN conference we decided to also advocate for the cause of the small mountain nations to which Kyrgyzstan belongs as well as State of Utah. As we know from our activities at UVU that mountain people are among the most vulnerable to such traditional challenges as poverty and underdevelopment, and almost forgotten by international institutions.  Therefore, we thought that it was an opportunity for us to raise an awareness among other participants of the conference about mountain cause. While at this conference, I had the opportunity to interact with other students, and learn more about their countries, and why they hold the beliefs that they do.

This was my first time at a Model UN conference, so I didn’t fully know what to expect. This was really a learning experience for me. We began every day at nine am, and some nights worked until eleven pm. Every committee began by doing a roll call to establish quorum, and it was important that every student show up, so we knew what the majority was. I had worked in the General Assembly committee, which had about seventy to eighty different countries in it.

My country, Kyrgyzstan, was located in the Central Asia region; we didn’t really have a lot of allies at this conference. Being from such a small country, a lot of people didn’t really even know where our country was located. Luckily, on the first day, I was able to meet up with one of the countries located in our region, Turkmenistan. From day one, I was able to form a great relationship with Turkmenistan, and we ended up sponsoring, and working on a resolution  together. Another ally that was focused on was Russia. Unfortunately, during this conference I wasn’t able to work with Russia a lot of the time.

It was really interesting to see just how well certain countries played their parts. They made sure to remind the delegates, the things were to remain civil, as the real UN is very diplomatic. I think that my committee struggled a lot with controlling their emotions, and being able to compromise. Some delegates had a harder time being diplomatic with other delegates that they knew their countries didn’t agree with. The chairs continued to make sure that everyone was acting respectfully to each other though. I agree that a lot of the time, it was hard to compromise with other delegates. Most countries don’t see eye to eye on issues, and things were especially hard when it came time to create, merge, and vote on resolutions.

Creating resolutions was one of the most important parts the conference. Luckily, leading up the conference, my class worked a lot not only on our policy statements, but on resolution writing. I feel that it made it so much easier to work with other delegates and be able to come to a compromise when we could all agree on specific wording, and the things that we really wanted to see in our resolutions. A lot of the preamble clauses and operative clauses were meant to target specific issues that our countries were facing.

In this specific conference, we were all given three topics to study and focus on. For the General Assembly, our topics were The Threat of Cyber Security in an Age of Cybercrime, Addressing Global Conflict and Security in the Context of Climate Change, and Ensuring Human Security in Conflict and Post Conflict Countries. In our committee, we were able to finish resolutions for two topics, which were Climate change, and Cybercrime. I put a lot of focus into the topic of Climate change. Climate change is a big issue in Kyrgyzstan, as their glaciers are melting, like in many other mountain nations and they have seen water shortages in part due to flawed infrastructure. Fortunately, I found a bloc that was interested in focusing on the same idea of water conservation and preservation. From there we merged with another bloc and created a resolution that we could all agree on. In the end, after a few amendments, the bill the Kyrgyzstan sponsored was one of the three bills to be passed in our committee. As a result, we were presented with Achievement Certificate for successfully presenting interests of Kyrgyzstan as one of the small mountain nations.

This allowed us to share with other conference participants our knowledge and experiences about Kyrgyzstan, starting even from the spelling of the name of the country. In addition, we also shared with them projects and initiatives which UVU students undertake with Kyrgyzstan to exchange between two mountain communities examples of economic, social, cultural and educational development.

Taylor Mansfield with Achievement Certificate for the promotion of mountainous Kyrgyzstan during the MUN conference 

In conclusion, I think that attending this conference was a great experience. I had the opportunity to meet different people, from schools across the West Coast. I enjoyed being able to learn from them and be able to compromise on certain issues. This is something that I would definitely consider attending again, and I won’t forget all that I have learned from it.

Taylor Mansfield, UVU student


United Nations Mountain Partnership about MUNFW conference




Steven Johnston: gaining professional experiences during the Model UN Conference


Jon Downs: My MUNFW experience


The Re-charter of UVU Rotaract Club


The Re-charter of UVU Rotaract Club/ Utah International Mountain Forum

 On April 29, 2017 the UVU campus hosted the Central Wasatch Rotaract Leadership training as part of the UVU Rotaract club Re-charter, a Rotary International effort to establish College level clubs in communities and Universities.  This month seven years ago, the Orem Rotary Club sponsored the Utah Valley University Rotaract club. It was a wonderful coincidence that around the same time this year a group of dedicated individuals got together and worked once again to re-establish the club on campus.

Rotary International is a global community of committed professionals working together to serve others and advance peace. More than 1.2 million members in over 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide volunteer in communities at home and abroad. The Utah Rotary District 5420 is made up of 48 Rotary clubs. Rotary clubs sponsor University and Community based Rotaract service clubs for young men and women ages 18 to 30 who are dedicated to community and international service. Its membership totals over184,000 in more than 8,000 clubs worldwide. Individual Rotary clubs sponsor Rotaract clubs and offer guidance and support, making the Rotaract clubs true “partners in service” and key members of the family of Rotary.

District Governor Shaun Michel at UVU

VIP’s of Utah Rotary District 5420 who shared their “Rotary Moments” listing years of local and international service transmitting the ideals of Rotary of “Service Above Self” included: District Governor Shaun Michel, PDG Tom Powell (instrumental in the establishment of other Rotaract clubs in the Utah District), PDG Dean Jackson, PDG Wally Brown the( “father of Rotaract” in Utah), PDG Penny Atkinson (The first woman District Governor in Utah), PDG Jerry Summerhays, DGE Bev Christy, Orem Rotary Club President Bruce Early, Incoming Utah Rotary District Youth Chair Miriam Barth, Jose Velasco Midvalley Rotaract Advisor and Midvale Rotary President, Stephanie Velasco, District Rotaract Representative and Martha Velasco, District Rotaract Chair. Also present to support the Re-charter were Salt Lake Rotaract President Colby Judd, BYU Rotaract Advisor Chantel Sloan, Midvalley Rotaract VP Ana Montes and Dixie University Rotaract Past President Jayme Pickett. They conveyed to those present how their involvement in Rotary has shaped their lives and helped them contribute to the Objectives of Rotary.

PDG Tom Powell speaks before the audience

The morning culminated with learning about Rotary; a motivational presentation that was especially designed for the Rotaractors and Rotarians; and engaging with an international Rotaract Club partner who presented a need in their community via a skype session experience with the Rotaract Clubs of Bosnia and later Piedras Negras, Mexico. The local Rotaract clubs present will support the development of the service project abroad using funds that will be matched by the international Rotaract partner and may be focused on Rotary’s six community service priorities: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Group photo after signing a charter

The UVU Rotaract Club Advisor ,Baktybek Abdrisaev , Senior Lecturer of History and Political Science and former Ambassador to the United States and Canada from 1997 to 2005, brings to this effort his global experience and expertise that supports the ideals of a Rotaractor: to volunteer locally and internationally, network and build vocational knowledge, develop leadership skills, establish a worldwide network of service-minded people, gain fellowships that last a lifetime, change lives, make peace and have fun!

Five founding members of the club have been raised or trained in the Rotary experience of “Service Above Self” participating in international projects and leadership development in Utah Rotary District 5420. Joining them are 15 students who will journey with them in becoming the tenth Rotaract club in the Rotary District and joining the ranks of the active Rotaract Clubs at Utah State University, Dixie University, Westminster College, Salt Lake Community (University of Utah), Midvalley, Roosevelt , Ogden, BYU and Southern Utah University.

Martha Velasco, Past President and Utah District 5420 Rotaract Chair


Invitation for event at UVU


UVU event program


Photos from the event




Wyatt Thompson: student learning how to be Rotarian


Aldon Trimble: global networking opportunities through UVU Rotaract Club


Jocelyn Lujan: time to joint Rotaract at UVU



UVU Students Experience with the WorldQuest Trivia Competition


On April 14, 2017, my colleagues and I got an incredible opportunity to participate in the WorldQuest Trivia Competition, hosted at the Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Seven students, including Pierre Chesnais, John Cummings, Anthony Franks, Ruben Garces, Yelyzaveta Pashehenko, Tenika Ray, and me, represented the Department of History and Political Science at Utah Valley University in this competition.  Each of the team members excelled in various subjects and topics.

Wolverine Dream Team during competition

Thanks to Professor Hong Pang’s organization and guidance, we could participate in such a fun and engaging event hosted by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Representatives from various organizations and institutions, including those from global corporations, communities and social organizations as well as students from universities/colleges (such as University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Weber State University, Westminster College, and our Utah Valley University), attended this event and competed with each other on world knowledge.  . The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the current global issues we are facing and faced in the past.

The competition is to test the knowledge of the participants on the following topics:

         Global Megacities

         Women in Technology

         Peace & Conflict

         EU (European Union)

         Combating Infectious Diseases

         Current Events

Wolverine Dream Team with Professor Hong Pang

Personally I learned a lot from this Trivia Competition.  For example, global megacities are severely overpopulated and have created numerous problems to the communities. These problems includes water crisis, infrastructures crisis, unemployment, under-education, land pollution, land and waste management.  These problems are becoming serious issues to the people who live in the megacities. Each megacity contains at least 10 million people. This number is bigger than that of some small countries in Europe and Asia. The second round of questions about Women in Tech provided me eye-opening information that many successful companies exclusively rely on the women power. The third round of questions is about Peace and Conflict, another challenging topic. But our team began to roar with a stronger performance this round. We did even better in the fourth round on European Union because we had Pierre Chesnais, who comes from France and successfully nailed 8 out of 10 questions.

While we had a plain performance in the first 3 rounds getting the score of 14 out of 30, our team had a comeback in the later rounds, such as those on Current Events, Peace and Conflict, European Union, and Current Events. Although we failed to win any prize, our team tried our very best, had a lot of fun working together, and learned a lot about the world.

It was an enlightening opportunity for us to broaden our horizon of knowledge. Our engaged learning evening ended with a lot of laughter and good memories. Thanks to Professor Hong Pang and my colleagues, I have gained a good memory and experiential learning in my own way.

Munkhbat Batmunkh, member of Wolverine Dream Team


Tenika Ray: Experiential Learning Through  WorldQuest Trivia


Anthony Franks: WorldQuest Trivia Night


Ruben Garces: my participation in WorldTrivia contest


2015 Youth and the Mountains Journal








The annual Utah Valley University journal Youth and the Mountain publishes undergraduate students research papers dedicated to the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations with the ultimate goal to raise awareness in SMD in the state of Utah and the rest of North America.

The 2015 issue of the journal was published with some delay to reflect substantial progress during the year in SMD advocacy through the student engaged learning model at UVU and the efforts of the members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU in particular. As a highlight in the implementation of that model, UIMF members successfully hosted the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership (MP) on October 7-9  2015, which provided students a great opportunity to combine their education with hands-on activities at the level of the UN with faculty serving in the role of advisors.

Due to that, the 2015 issue broadened the focus of the journal on student research by including documents presenting results of the student engaged learning and the final document of the 2015 WOMC in particular. It was adopted by conference participants through the efforts of the student secretariat and represents an example of how the students combined engaged learning with practical contribution to the implementation of the UN Post-2015 agenda. Another document included in the volume is the draft submission to the MP about the UVU students and faculty contribution to SMD advocacy during 2014-2016 for the UN Secretary General’s Report on SMD. It described the UIMF efforts through engaged learning to promote mountain targets among the proposed SDGs both at the UN Open Working Groups on SDGs, and by hosting Permanent Representatives of more than 18 nations to the UN at UVU during 2013-2015. In addition, it highlighted students’ contribution to MP global campaign to include mountain issues in the agenda of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, in December 2015. Finally, the document highlighted the regional approach by UVU in SMD advocacy.

The 2015 issue contains UVU student essays that cover water waste in the arid environment of Utah and Lake Powell; efforts of NGOs such as Days for Girls from the State of Washington  to promote and improve women’s hygiene worldwide; community-based aspects of the Utah model of SMD started with the first Mormon settlers; a report from a UIMF member about rebuilding his primary school in Nepal following the devastating earthquake in 2015; and papers about different aspects of the international applicability of SMD. Since many students at UVU are non-traditional ones, journal encourages them to submit papers about their professional experiences related to the contribution to the Utah model of SMD: one of the papers from that category tells a story of the single mother who raises ten children alone and how local and federal regulations with focus on mandated parental accountability could increase sustainable nurturing and living for families like hers. Another paper analyses the role of family farming in the State of Utah based on the experiences of the student author.

In addition, the 2015 issue includes the papers of the winners from the annual Utah High School Essay Contest, which was hosted by UVU students in March 2015 to promote gender issues as a contribution to the agenda of the WOMC. Articles written by high school students highlight future leaders in SMD promotion in Utah and North America.

Please find enclosed a link to the 2015 issue of the Youth and the Mountains Journal:

Yanko Dzhukev, VP of Global Affairs and Outreach, UIMF

UIMF Advocates Mountain Women at CSW61



The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) participated at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) of the United Nation in New York on 20-23 March 2017. During CSW61, four UIMF leaders, UVU students and myself included, shared with participants and hosts of this major United Nations (UN) gender event their contribution to the gender and the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agendas of the United Nations in the State of Utah and North America.

Regan Warner, Christian Jensen, Tony Medina, and Munkhbat Batmunkh during CSW61 at the United Nations

The UIMF was represented at CSW61 by Tony Medina, outgoing President of UIMF, Christian Jensen, current President of UIMF, Regan Warner, Vice-President of Sustainable Mountain Development Club and Munkhbat Batmunkh, Vice President of UIMF. Each of them, like the majority of the UIMF members, are non-traditional students and combine education with the need to work full or part time jobs and take care of a family. At the same time, the UIMF members also contribute a lot of their time, energy, and passion to encourage local communities in Utah and North America to advocate for the mountain cause and help the mountain communities, women and families in particular in many developing nations worldwide who are overlooked and forgotten today by the international community.

As a major initiative, UVU has been hosting the international Women of the Mountains Conferences (WOMCs) since 2007. Since then, WOMCs have become major grass-roots forums in North America to promote gender and SMD agendas of the UN. Thanks to the UVU emphasis on student engaged learning, WOMCs provide the students a great opportunity to combine their education with hands-on activities at the level of the United Nations, while faculty provides them with guidance only when students need it. As another important contribution of student to the gender and SMD advocacy, students raised funds on local level to host WOMCs and any other initiatives to promote mountain cause.

Tony Medina was particularly proud to report that UIMF under his leadership hosted the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference under the umbrella of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 7-9 of October 2015. The 2016 United Nations Secretary General’s Report on SMD featured UIMF for the first time and student contributions to the promotion of the mountain targets among the UN SDGs and SDG#5 on gender in particular. Christian Jensen and Munkhbat Batmunkh were part of the 2015 UIMF team, who achieved such a success.

As a next step in student engagement at the United Nations level, UIMF aimed to gain similar recognition from the CSW and UN Women as well. The students worked very hard to achieve such a goal.

This was the second visit for Tony Medina to the CSW and the first for the rest of the group.  Our delegation was not able to be included in the official agenda of this UN forum, but Christian Jensen as the new UIMF President and Regan Warner as one of his deputies learned how to advance their goal during the next year’s visit. UIMF members have built strong partnership ties with several NGOs accredited under the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. For example, their registration for participation at CSW61 and recommendation to participants was provided by Dr. Rusty Butler, the main representative at the United Nations of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), a NGO with Consultative Status under ECOSOC. Similarly, thanks to Mrs. Wendy Jyang, President of Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands and Development and Commerce, a NGO from Utah, Munkhbat Batmunkh on behalf of UIMF was able to make a presentation via Skype in an event hosted by her NGO for the CSW61 participants at the One UN Hotel on March 14, 2017. In addition, Mrs. Wendy Jyang and her colleagues presented to participants of the event a power point and brochure about UIMF activities in gender and SMD advocacy.

UIMF members also attended a parallel event hosted by several NGOs from Utah which allowed students to witness the importance of working together at the UN in order to promote mutual goals and interests and in particular the model of SMD in Utah as one of the most successful in the United States.

Regan Warner speaks to Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations, Mrs. Katalina Annamaria Bogyay.

During the visit, students also gained experience and knowledge about how it was important for them to strengthen their ties with Permanent Missions of several mountain countries at the United Nations. As a follow up for the previous visits of Permanent Representatives of those countries to Utah and UVU, Munkhbat Batmunkh contacted diplomatic missions and secured meetings as part of UIMF agenda. This provided for the UIMF a good basis for co-hosting side events with focus on promotion of mountain women and families for the next time. In addition, it was a wonderful opportunity for Regan Warner as well as her peers to learn how to hold negotiations and discussions with diplomats like the Permanent Representative (PR) of Hungary to the United Nations, Ambassador Katalin Bogyay and the PR of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, Ambassador Mirgul Moldoisaeva. It was a refreshing experience for the top women envoys from Hungary and Kyrgyzstan as well to have students as counterparts instead of a faculty member or university official.

The UVU delegation included also Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, UIMF Advisor and Dr. Cholpon Akmatalieva, UVU faculty,  and contributor for the WOMCs since 2007. In addition, Meerim Abdrisaeva was included in the delegation as a high school student from the Utah County Academy of Sciences and a contributor to the Fourth International WOMC.

Kimberly Williamson speaks to Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, Mrs. Mirgul Moldoisaeva

While for some students it was the first visit ever to New York, the visit agenda included sightseeing and visiting some of the most prominent places in this city. They used that opportunity to also bring family members and enjoy time with them together in New York, which plays an important role for non-traditional students to be successful in their education.

As a preparation for the next year’s visit, UIMF members now plan also to gather NGOs from Utah and North America with consultative status under ECOSOC in order to discuss joint activities both at the CSW and at the UN in order to promote the gender and the SMD agendas.

As a representative of the UVU History and Political Science department and still a non-traditional student myself, I would like to highlight one more time the engaged learning approach at UVU, which puts students at the focus of the activities at the university and encourages them to learn through hands-on experiences which better prepares them for their professional careers and life. I have been involved in those activities since my time as a UVU student and I have continued to do that during the last four years by helping more UIMF members to be successfully involved in the gender and SMD advocacy in addition to taking care of their families and being able to get their education. I am confident that many of them will further make a difference not only in their own lives and professional careers but also in improving livelihoods of mountain communities, families and women around the world.

Kimberly Williamson, Administrative Support, History and Political Science Department, Utah Valley University  


UIMF preparations for the participation at CSW61


Ms. Lakshmi Puri: Analysis of CSW61 and Agreed Conclusions


United Nations Mountain Partnership about UIMF at CSW61


Power point about UIMF participation at CSW61


Photos about UIMF participation at CSW61




Tony Medina: Promoting Mountain Women and Families at CSW61


Christian Jensen: My Story, Student Engagement and Work at the UN


Regan Warner: My experiential Learning at the 61st United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women


Munkhbat Batmunkh: Advocating Mountain Cause and Women From Mongolia, to Utah and to CSW61


2017 International Women’s Day at UVU


2017 International Women’s Day at UVU

Two of main goals of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs a Utah Valley University (UVU) ( are to sponsor events which raise awareness of sustainable mountain development (SMD) topics and bring the public into contact with international guests and foreign dignitaries. We were able to combine these two goals on March 6, 2017, by bringing special guest U.S Ambassador Elieen Malloy to UVU ( see: and involving her in a gender-related project, one of the sustainable development goals we as the UIMF focus on. Ambassador Malloy promoted variety of projects with focus on women and mountain families in particular during her time as US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan (1994-97) as well as other diplomatic postings in such countries in Central Asia as Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.  Therefore, it was natural for her to get involved in activities during the visit to UVU with focus on women.

(Left to right):  Kathryn Johnson, Assistant Director of Women’s Services, Dr. Anne R. Wairepo, Sr. Director of Women’s Services and Director of the Women’s Success Center, Ambassador Eileen Malloy, and Regan Warner at the International Women’s Day Event.

UVU celebrated International Women’s Day with a number of events put on by the UVU Women’s Success Center ( ) One of them was an opportunity for students and faculty to participate in assembling Days for Girls hygiene kits. The mission of the NGO Days for Girls is “Creating a more dignified, free and educated world through access to lasting feminine hygiene solutions.” ( ) Since 2008, Days for Girls has reached girls in over 101 countries and since 2015 over 108,880 girls have received hygiene kits. The impact of these efforts has been incredible. For example, absence rates for girls in schools. in Kenya has dropped from 25% to 3% and in Uganda from 36% to 8%.

UIMF members are familiar with Days for Girls and its President Celeste Mergens: they hosted Celeste as keynote presenter during the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership at UVU in October 7-9, 2015. After that UIMF members participated at Days for Girls presentation as parallel event during the 60th session of the United Nations Commission on Status of Women (CSW) on March 2016 in New York. They also hope to work together during the 61st session of the CSW in New York on March 20-23, 2017.

Members of the UIMF were able to attend the Days for Girls event together with U.S Ambassador Eileen Malloy. We were greeted by leaders of the Women’s Success Center, including Dr. Anne Waipero, the Senior Director of the Women’s Success Center and Women’s Services at UVU, as well as Utah representatives of Days for Girls among others who instructed us on how to create the hygiene kits and of the many accomplishments of the Days for Girls organization. Following this, the members as well as Ambassador Malloy helped put together numerous Days for Girls hygiene kits to be sent to girls in Samoa. These kits included eight absorbent tri-fold pads, one washcloth, one drawstring bag, two one-gallon size Ziploc freezer bags, two moisture barrier shields, one travel-size soap, a two pairs of panties, and a visual instruction sheet.  These kits are designed to last up to three years, allowing girls all around the world to continue their education uninterrupted and in safety.

(Left to right):  Matt Rands, Regan Warner, Ambassador Eileen Malloy, and Josman Cereceres being instructed on how to assemble Days for Girls hygiene kits.

It was an honor for UIMF members to participate in this event hosted by UVU Women’s Success Center, which supports students’ efforts in hosting the international Women of the Mountains Conferences as major grass-roots gathering in North America to promote gender and SMD agendas of the United Nations since 2007. We were able to contribute to the celebration of women around the world and invest our time to their education. Additionally, it was a great opportunity to involve Ambassador Malloy in this effort and demonstrate to her the importance of women issues to the students and faculty here at Utah Valley University.

Regan Warner, Vice President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club


UVU Press-Release




Photos of Ambassador Malloy Visit to UVU




Josman Cereceres: The Honorable Eileen Malloy Prepares UVU Students for Foreign Services

Envoy From Uzbekistan to the UN Comes to Utah


Envoy From Uzbekistan to the UN Comes to Utah

Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations (UN), His Excellency Mr.  Muzaffar A. Madrahimov paid a visit to the state of Utah and came to tour Utah Valley University (UVU) on February 16, 2017. UVU invited Ambassador Madrahimov as part of series of guest lectures by the officials and envoys to the UN to engage students and faculty in most urgent issues of that global intergovernmental body, including the implementations of the UN’s 2030 agenda on sustainable development among them.

Ambassador Muzaffar A. Madrahimov speaks before students at UVU

The Distinguished guest spoke to political science students about the historical achievements of his nation, achievements that affect the way we see the world to this day. Mr. Madrahimov served as Deputy Chief of Mission at Uzbekistan’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., prior to being assigned to the UN post. His passion for raising the status for his nation is very admirable. He is coming from a nation where half of the population is under 18. This means that the young nation must arrange its priorities around the youth and use that as strength in order to become competitive in the future.

Ambassador Muzaffar A. Madrahimov
(fourth from the left)
with students after the lunch

The ambassador was very proud of his nation and the accomplishments that his people have contributed to the world. The ambassador and his counselor were very interested in the culture of Utah as well as at the university itself. When speaking with him both after the presentation and during the lunch, we talked about the importance of education in the state and how we can empower students to be successful. In fact, as a student myself, I have been given a plethora of opportunity to excel in my future career and in building an impressive resume while continuing my studies. Madrahimov was impressed with the lengths that professors go through in order to help students get high level opportunities. He was interested to learn also how students are able to grow professionally through the model of engaged learning at Utah Valley University which was implemented at the university in 2008.

These are the strengths that Utah and the greater USA is very proud of. It is what makes us successful as a nation. I believe Ambassador Madrahimov has been inspired by these qualities and the spirit of Pioneers that has made Utah County a very attractive place to do business as well as raising a family. Still, Uzbekistan has much work to do and a lot of catching up to do.

Since the time of the Soviet Union, the nation was led by Islam Karimov, who was the leader of the communist party and in 1990, declared Uzbekistan as independent. Elections followed thought the opposition parties had many obstacles and many could not place their candidates. Soon, the opposition parties were altogether outlawed and many followers arrested. As economic pacts were made with neighboring nations, the ruling party changed name and even extended the term of Karimov. Soon thereafter, terror raids by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan IMU, started terror operations and demanded that Karimov be removed. By the mid-2000’s there is civil unrest and many protests against the government. Journalists are jailed and torture becomes a tool of the government. Karimov keeps winning elections and seeks to stay in power by extending term and rigging elections even after independent sources cry foul of the results. His family eventually becomes entangled in corruption charges as his daughter has built a massive business and media empire for herself and she is eventually arrested. In 2016, President Karimov dies and a new president gets elected.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev wins the election as new leader of the country. As Ambassador Madrahimov mentioned, this represents a new era for Uzbekistan and it is a chance to improve the quality of life for all Uzbeks. The administration has already begun by releasing long jailed journalists and returning their freedom and the elections were made more transparent. This is not to say that there is not work to be done. There is precedent to follow but Mirziyoyev would be smart to create his own legacy and a legacy for a new Uzbekistan.

Josman Cereceres, UVU Political Science Department Representative




Ruben Garces: UVU Student Interaction With Envoy From Uzbekistan 



UIMF Presents Women of the Mountains Conference at University of Utah


UIMF Introduces Women of the Mountains Conference at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum made a presentation titled: “Women of the Mountains 2015 conference and Students Engagement” to students at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics on April 16, 2015. They also extended an invitation to the University of Utah students to join with UVU in participating in the WOM Conference by making presentations, being members of the organizing committee, or moderating panels.

womu1 Jesler Molina, President of the UIMF during presentation at University of Utah

Jesler Molina, President of the Utah International Mountain Forum introduced the presenters and thanked Associate Director Jane Nelson for the opportunity to speak to the University of Utah. Jesler also explained what the International Mountain Forum is, the main focus of the UIMF coalition is, including promoting the United Nations agenda on sustainable mountain development. Jesler presented the upcoming Women of the Mountains Conference and then introduced a video that illustrated the work the UIMF has done and highlighted some of the student members of the club.

womu2 Deann Torsak, VP , UIMF during presentation at University of Utah

Jesler introduced Deann Torsak, Vice President of Cultural Affairs of the UIMF who presented the panels that are being organized and explained the topics, including Transmitting Family Values, Heritage and Culture, Education of Women and Children, and Climate Change and Gender. Deann also invited students to participate by assist in moderating the panels for the conference.

womu3 Deena Ainge, President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU during presentation at University of Utah

I spoke about the objectives for the WOM Conference to the audience, explaining the important goal of including other educational institutions such as the University of Utah. Other goals include engaging local communities in the conference and establish partnerships with NGOs from around the world and to strengthen ties with the United Nations, UNWomen, the World Bank and the US State Department. She also explained the goal to bring women in business from around the world to speak on behalf of women in their countries and expose them to business opportunities here in Utah.

Kiersten Dumas, Vice President of Community Outreach for the UIMF followed. Keirsten thanked the Hinkley Institute and the University for hosting the delegation from UVU, she highlighted some of the opportunities members of the UIMF have had in recent months to present the conference to other organizations such as the United Nations, UNWomen, and the US State Department. Kiersten reported on the recent High School Essay Contest which allowed local high school students to write and present their research on sustainable mountain development and women’s issues. Kiersten emphasized the importance of including youth and engaging local communities to promote the agenda of sustainable mountain development.

womu4UIMF delegation with Jayne Nelson, Associate Director of the Hinckley Institute at University of Utah ( C ) after presentation

Jesler concluded by explaining how success can be achieved in hosting the WOM Conference and bring recognition of student activities to the United Nations. He emphasized the way to ensure success is through joint student involvement from other schools, like the University of Utah. The panel then concluded by answering questions from the audience.

Deena Ainge, President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU

UVUSA Leaders Meet UNWomen and State Department Representatives


Tyler Brklacich and Caleb Tippetts, President and Vice President of Utah Valley University Student Association visited Washington D.C. and New York City in order to meet and officially invite representatives of the State Department and the UNWomen to participate at the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference, which UVU students will host on October 7-9, 2015 in Orem, UT.

It was a follow up to the visit of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) members in February 2015 and meetings in Washington D.C.

In Washington, D.C. they met and presented official invitation letters to Mr. Scott Driskel, desk officer for Kyrgyzstan at Office of Central Asian Affairs and Ms. Irene Marr, Office of Global Women’s Issues on March 16, 2015. State Department representative participated at the activities of the first International Women of the Mountains Conference in 2007 and it was important for UVU students to invite them to come back to Utah this coming fall and contribute to the success of the gathering.

sd1 (L to R) Tyler Brklacich and Caleb Tippetts with Ms. Ms. Kristin Hetle, Director of Strategic Partnerships for UN Women

They also visited the United Nations headquarters in New York City on March 20, 2015 in order to present an original invitation letter to Ms. Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of the UNWomen. Due to a busy schedule of Ms. Lakshmi, leaders of USUSA were able to meet Ms. Kristin Hetle, Director of Strategic Partnerships for UN Women and ask her to transfer original letter to the UNWomen leader.

Tyler and Caleb invited also Ms. Hetle and her team to the Women of the Mountain’s conference as well with positive outlook that they may be able to attend.

Whole trip was an amazing opportunity to be able to speak to these high ranking individuals whom are doing so much for women’s rights both in the United States and throughout the globe. It was possible thanks to the long-term efforts at UVU to advocate sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations including gender agenda as well as a practical example of embracing the vision of Utah Valley University of engaged learning locally, regionally and globally.

Deann Torsak, VP of the UIMF


Tyler Brklacich ( R) with State Department Representatives


Caleb Tippetts ( R ) with State Department Representatives