Category Archives: 2018

Sharing CSW62 results with Mayor Brunst of Orem

As part of the follow up tasks of the Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation visit to the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), the leadership of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, met with Mayor of Orem, Richard Brunst on Monday, April 2, 2018. Our objective was to report to Mayor Brunst, an old supporter and friend of the UIMF, the results of our student led delegation visit to CSW62 and strengthen the established relationship with the city of Orem to further promote the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In 2015 Orem was placed within the top 50 most livable cities by USA Today. Being a located in the mountains of Utah, Orem has a unique situation when promoting the SDGs. In 2010 the city of Orem became the first municipality in Utah to join the United Nations Mountain Partnership. This then allows UIMF members, when promoting mountain sustainability from a grass roots level to look for examples in their local communities and report their research to the United Nations.

From Left to Right: Derek Garfield, Mayor Brunst, Matthew Rands

 Since the foundation of the UIMF, the city of Orem has always been supportive of student led initiatives. Mayor Brunst also participated at the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference in 2015, which was featured in the United Nations Secretary General’s report on sustainable mountain development (SMD) A/71/256 from July 27, 2016 as successfully hosted by UIMF. This provided us with a great opportunity to start our conversation with Mayor Brunst by thanking him for his contributions to the SMD advocacy which included not only speaking at the Women of the Mountains Conference in 2015 but also during annual International Mountain Day celebrations at UVU on December 11th.

When we asked the Mayor: “What unique quality does Orem have that can be utilized by the rest of the world?” his response was that the city focuses on families. The city is maintained easily and has a thriving arts scene because it promotes families. This quality can fit directly into SDG #5 on gender equality and promoting the overall benefit of women through the family unit.

During our conversation with Mayor Brunst, we informed him that during our first visit ever to the UN, we still were able to learn that this highest intergovernmental organization is full of varying opinions and ideologies. Many people in Utah view the UN as not favorable to their ideology and refrain from participating. We discussed that this is not correct that there are many opportunities at the UN to bring different views, opinions and this is a great arena for interaction with similar minded individuals and institutions and to learn to wage a dialogue with those with whom we could disagree in something.

Taking into account very active role of the Orem City in advocating the SMD agenda of the United Nations since 2010, we were then able to offer Mayor Brunst the opportunity to share Orem’s successes at future UN forums, to which he agreed to the idea. The UIMF looks forward to working with the city of Orem and the Mayor Brunst to promote mountain sustainability in Utah and worldwide.

Matthew Rands, President, Utah International Mountain Forum

Derek Garfield, Vice President, Utah International Mountain Forum

Ms. Hawa Diallo from UN DPI about empowering youth through global advocacy

UVU students were blessed to have guest speaker, Ms. Hawa Diallo, Public Information Officer at United Nations Department of Public Information, come and speak to them on  April 3, 2018.  Ms. Hawa has been part of the United Nations from a very young age, and this experience has enabled her to travel to many different countries and participate in some of the most important principles that the United Nations stands for.  Ms. Diallo grew up in Westchester, New York, advocating for human rights from a very young age. She remembers as far back as the 2nd grade when she began standing up for students out at recess and promoting people’s rights.  She graduated from college in 1986 and received her first job at the United Nations as a tour guide.  Growing up in a family that very politically active, as well as her father working for the United Nations her family was able to help her get this first job.  One of her favorite aspects of working at the United Nations is the level of diversity.  She spoke about how many different people she was able to meet and how many different viewpoints she was exposed to as she worked there, which helped her learn more about the United Nations.

Ms. Hawa Diallo during presentation before students

 After working for a large amount of time as a tour guide, becoming a knowledgeable in the structure and information of the United Nations, she was able to become involved in peacekeeping operations.  She has been able to travel all over the world, participating in peace operations and has been able to fulfill what she loves to do, and that is help people.  She has been everywhere from New York City, to Cambodia, Somalia, and many other countries that have been facing hardships as they are developing. She has also been able to work in Kenya for 10 years, at the only United Nations headquarters on the continent of Africa.

After speaking somewhat about her career at the United Nations, she spoke for a moment on some of the different jobs available in the United Nations.  I asked her a specific question about what jobs are available at the United Nations, and also what jobs the United Nations seems to always be in need of.  Apparently right now at the United Nations, there is a lot of opportunities for jobs such as secretaries and such, but the United Nations in the past has also had to lay a lot of people off due to modernization and the progression in technology.  This has caused loss of jobs.  Ms. Hawa Diallo seemed to have a very interesting passion for peacekeeping.  There were students that asked about future internships for peace keeping at the United Nations that opportunities are available.

A group photo with students and faculty at UVU

I believe that the future of the United Nations could be both bright and dim.  Because of all the problems occurring in our world today, sometimes we question if there are any solutions to these problems at all.  I believe that the United Nations can make an impact on some of these problems, but I believe that they need to come up with better solutions.  Overall, from this presentation I would say that the United Nations is a great institution that has plenty of good motivations and intentions, but the entire international community must come together in order to make a difference.  She did a great job in speaking today and I learned more about all the opportunities that the United Nations provides to students, and it would be very interesting to work there.

Visit of Ms. Hawa Diallo took place thanks to a new partnership established between UVU and the United Nations Department of Public Information in November last year when UVU became an Associate member of the UN DPI.

Nathan Erickson, Utah Valley University student


Marie Chantal Niwenshuti – Gaining experience about advocacy at UN from Ms. Diallo


Caitlin Tomly – Inspiring presentation of Ms.Hawa Diallo


Damon Ashcraft-Visit from UN representative Hawa Diallo


Ezra Pugliano – Presentation of Ms. Hawa Diallo about UN


Tim-Jenkins-In-Class UN Speaker


Cougar Einfeldt – Hawa Diallo How to get involved with the UN


Jessica Marinho-Learning from Ms. Hawa Diallo about United Nation


Mckenna-Gifford-Learning about UN from Ms. Hawa Diallo


Karson Kester-Hawa Diallo-A Life Spent in the United Nations



UVU students advocated for mountain women at CSW62


A Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation, comprised of 26 members, participated at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at the United Nations (UN) on 19-21 March 2018. This year’s CSW62 priority theme was: “Challenges and Opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”  This was the first visit of the UVU delegation, led by Dr. Baldomero Lago, Vice-Rector for Global Engagement, under the umbrella of the new partnership established between UVU and the UN Department of Public Information in November 17, 2017. The delegation included 11 students, including members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) (, a coalition of student clubs at UVU, which advocates for the gender and sustainable mountain development agendas of the UN since 2011.

UVU delegation members at the UN

One of the goals of the visit of UVU delegation was to raise awareness at the CSW62 about the lack of attention to the mountain women globally, who are among the poorest and vulnerable to such challenges as climate change and outmigration. As one of the initiatives to address it, UVU delegation presented a student engaged learning (SEL) model to advocate the implementation in the State of Utah of the sustainable development goal (SDG) #5 in interaction with mountain targets by hosting the international Women of the Mountains conferences (WOMC) since 2007. The UVU SEL model provides students an opportunity to gain experiences and professional skills as a group through hands-on activities with faculty serving them as mentors with the UIMF representing its core. Initial plans of UVU to commemorate the 10th anniversary of hosting the first WOMC in 2017 during CSW61 didn’t materialize due to the lack of time and experience. Therefore, the UVU delegation achieved that finally with one year in delay.

As a result of a yearlong marathon of preparations for CSW62, students were able to demonstrate how the SEL model works in action: they hosted both a special round table of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Ms. Marcia Barlow, a representative of the NGO for brainstorming how to advocate jointly for mountain women at the UN; they also contacted diplomatic missions accredited to the UN to identify sponsors for a side event among other things. They made also all necessary preparations for the visit by arriving to New York earlier and checking all routes and sites of CSW62. 


Finally, as a highlight of their efforts, they hosted then on Monday March 19, 2018 a side event titled: “Advocating for rural and mountain women globally through student engaged learning.” The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission (PM) of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN and the PM of Uzbekistan to the UN.


During the event, representatives of such prominent NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN as the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), and the Utah-China Friendship Improvement Shared Hands and Development and Commerce (Utah-China F.I.S.H.&D.&C) demonstrated the examples of student engagement when they highlighted the UVU model and joint work with UIMF during the last three years to advocate for the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the UN in the State of Utah, North America and globally.

The delegation hosted also a parallel event “Education for Sustainable Development to Empower Rural and Mountain women,” co-sponsored again by RANS, the Mountain Institute and Utah-China F.I.S.H.& D.&C. The event was hosted at Church Center of the United Nations on March 20, 2018.

In addition, RANS and Utah-China F.I.S.H.& D.&C submitted a written statement for presentation at CSW62 (E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37) featuring the mountain women and UVU SEL model. It was accepted and distributed by the UN Secretariat on December 7, 2017. Students were able also to learn new knowledge and experiences of interacting with NGOs and different institutions from around the world on how to advance their goals during the CSW62 and in adopting their recommendations in the final document of that global gender – focused forum.

During the visit to CSW62, UVU delegation had meetings and discussed its activities at CSW62 at the UN Department of Public Information and liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Delegation members were able to acquire new experiences and knowledge during the meetings with the Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN Mr. Charles T. Mtwaagae, and the Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the UN, Mr. Bakhtiyor Ibragimov.

Matthew Rands, President, UIMF, Derek Garfield,  Vice-President, UIMF, Dylan Genes, Vice-President, UIMF, and Yanko Dzhukev, VP and liaison with FAO-UN, UIMF

Poster about CSW62 visit results


Photos of the visit to the United Nations


UVU Marketing about UN visit


Mountain Partnership about UVU contribution to CSW62 agenda



Day 0 for UIMF at CSW62:  Preparations in New York

Day 1 for UIMF at CSW62: Derek Garfield – Hosting a side event

Day 2 for UIMF at CSW62: Dylan Genes-Hosting a parallel event

Day 3 for UIMF at CSW62: Matthew Rands – Student engaged learning through networking

Day 4 for UIMF at CSW62: Yanko Dzhukev – Student engaged learning beyond CSW62


Rob Smith: Great lessons of student engaged learning at the United Nations


Isak Larsen: My contribution to women advocacy at CSW62


Hannah Barlow: Advocating for rural and Tarahumara women at CSW62


Carol Bejar Orellana: The United Nations: a life-changing experience



  1. Rob Collins Smith, President, Utah Valley University Student Association (UVUSA);
  2. Amelia Cope, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senator, UVUSA;
  3. Matthew Rands, President, Utah International Mountain Forum, (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU;
  4. Derek Garfield, Vice President, UIMF;
  5. Dylan Isaac Genes, Vice President, UIMF;
  6. Hannah Barlow, UVU student;
  7. Carol Bejar Orellana, UVU student;
  8. Monica English, UVU student;
  9. Isak Larsen, UVU student;


UVU delegation list           Agenda of the visit


Statement E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37/Rev.1-EN


CSW62 side events agenda      


Dr. Lago       Dr. Butler         UIMF leadership


Rob Smith       Amelia Cope        Hannah Barlow


Albert Pooley


Joint Power Point Presentation


UVU CSW62 student delegation task list


CSW62  parallel events agenda    



UVU delegation members are ready for the UN visit

***Hosting Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations, Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic at UVU


Celebrating the International Women’s Day at UVU


Workshop “How to advocate at the UN” with Marcia Barlow


Contributing to the CSW62 Zero Draft Document


Hosting Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the UN, Ambassador Bakhtiyor Ibragimov at UVU


UIMF and NGOs registered with ECOSOC discuss how to advocate for mountain women globally


Day 4 for UIMF at CSW62: Yanko Dzhukev-Student engaged learning beyond CSW62

A Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation official agenda of activities was finished on March 21st, 2018 after attending the Morning Briefings at 8:30am. Since then, student members including myself were able to learn in practical terms how to ensure that our recommendations to empower rural women could be both submitted and included in the final document of CSW62.  

As part of preparation for the visit to CSW62, the UVU delegation contributed to the final document of CSW62 prepared by the CSW62 NGO/NY team or Zero Draft Outcome Document – “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Used as a resource and standard for policy-making and programming on the topics covered, the Zero Draft aimed to establish a legal framework work for gender equality that Member States agree to support after the CSW and aims to put in place concrete measures to lift rural women and girls out of poverty and to ensure their rights, well-being and resilience. This strong outcome provides a roadmap on next steps that governments, civil society and women’s groups can undertake to support the realization of rural women’s rights and address their needs.

The UVU delegation proposed the following amendment to the first sentence of the NGO CSW/NY CSW62 Zero Draft Outcome Document, topic Education, Employment and Technology, Paragraph #3:  “Collaborate with NGOs and academia to develop co-curricular pedagogy that is inclusive, timely, relevant and able to enhance the lives of rural and mountain women, including through student engaged learning, while empowering them to be the primary forces of change in improving their communities.” It was included in the recommendations of the UVU delegation at both our side and parallel events as well as in a written statement for CSW62 (E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37) which has been distributed for presentation by the UN Secretariat on 7 December 2017.

Similarly, the UVU delegation included that language in a possible oral statement when UIMF members gathered as co-sponsors support from five Mountain Partnership (MP) members, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC, including the Russian Academy of Natural Science (RANS), Euromontana and the Millennium Institute (MI). Unfortunately, our submission was rejected by CSW62 on the ground that the priority during the general discussion of the CSW62 was given to NGOs speaking on behalf of regional groups or coalitions, and that the joint submission by NGOs, undertaken by UIMF doesn’t satisfy that requirement. As one of the important initiatives both to advocate for the mountain women cause at the UN, and to implement mountain targets in the interaction with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, the statement also aimed to highlight the student engaged learning model developed at UVU, a Mountain Partnership member since 2006.

Members of NGOs wait for results of negotiations of member states on the final document of CSW62

Unfortunately, after initially being included in the working draft of the final document by the CSW62 NGO/NY team, the language about “mountain women,” “student engaged learning” and “non-traditional students” was removed from the final version. Our team witnessed how Member States play a key role in the adoption of UN resolutions and legal frameworks, and that NGOs should work in close cooperation with voting stakeholders if they would like a specific topic to be adequately addressed during general discussions.

Flyer of the side event advocating for women in mountain areas,  co-sponsored by Permanent Missions of several mountain states to the UN

Such setbacks serve purposes not only as learning experiences for students, but also to bring them to direct exposure in a multilateral environment of negotiations, lobbying and “fighting” for a specific topic or agenda at the UN.  While attending the CSW62, the UVU delegation was very pleased to learn that another organization and MP member also advocated for the gender agenda and particularly mountain women. The Alpine Convention held a side event co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Andorra, Bhutan, Peru and Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations discussing the role of women in mountain areas and challenges they face at the same day on March 19, 2018 as the UVU delegation hosted its own side event at CSW62. While it was great to hear that the UIMF is not the only organization highlighting the importance of addressing issues critical to mountain women, it was a very important reminder that due to the lack of a proper coordination between both side events and their co-sponsors, the outcome of the efforts was not the expected one by us all from the beginning.

On a positive note, the UVU delegation achieved a successes by organizing several events at the CSW62 and UN headquarters and it was great exposure for the UVU team at international level.

Hosting a side and parallel events at such a high professional level showcased the effectiveness of the engaged learning model in which students were able to prepare, organize, and execute events within one year since CSW61 demonstrating the students’ capacity in advocating causes related to rural and mountain women in addition to their extensive experiences at local and regional levels, as well as the UN level. Most importantly, UIMF members once again through solving real problems and student projects demonstrated how engaged learning can be used to encourage students and non-traditional in particular to implement the UN SDGs more successfully. Working closely with NGOs in consultative status under ECOSOC and with the MP Secretariat, the UVU student team proved that the engaged learning model became a very effective and powerful tool in implementing SDGs on a local, regional, and international level. In addition, the model allowed students to continue to push for its adoption into consensus documents, such as the NGO CSW Zero Draft document, as well as maintain it as a centerpiece of advocacy program in management and specialized implementation of the SDGs.

This was the third year of participation of UVU and UIMF at the CSW and student efforts will continue to be dedicated towards ensuring that mountain women will be in the focus of the attention and support of the UNWomen and the United Nations as well.

Yanko Dzhukev, VP and liaison with FAO-UN, UIMF

Hannah Barlow: Advocating for rural and Tarahumara women at CSW62

As part of the student team from Utah Valley University (UVU) I was able to participate at the 62nd session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) in New York on March 19-21, 2018. Since the CSW62 priority theme was: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” it was a great opportunity for me to share with the rest of the world a story about my involvement as a student engaged learning with communities and women who face many challenges of the modern life in remote mountain areas of Mexico.

Hannah Barlow (third from the right) during the presentation at the side event at CSW62

I had the opportunity to help Dr. Lynn England perform research on the Tarahumara women in Mexico. This indigenous Indian civilization lived in the mountains of Chihuahua and have fought to maintain their culture in an otherwise developing country. As we worked with the women in these communities we were able to see that they were able to keep much of their culture intact, but it created a life of poverty for them.

The Tarahumara are a collectivist community, meaning they share the crops they grow and the meat they have with the entire village. Beginning in the 1980’s resources in the mountains became scarce and many of the Tarahumara migrated to the cities of Chihuahua. We interviewed 50 Tarahumara women about their move out of the mountains into the cities. We found that some of them temporarily migrate to the city during the spring and fall and others move permanently. Those who migrate to the cities for a few months each year, work agriculture jobs to support their family and community. The families that choose to leave the mountains permanently work low skill, poor wage jobs.

The women we interviewed moved to the cities so their children can go to school, have better health care, and better future. We learned that in response to this permanent migration, the Mexican government has created neighborhoods called colonias for the Tarahumara. The Mexican government also established bilingual schools for the children that provided breakfasts and lunches for the children. In addition, the government offers payments to families who allow their girls to attend school regularly.

Through the interviewing process I was able to get a glimpse of the Tarahumara women’s lives since they’ve migrated. This gave me what I feel is real life experience in the job field that I am pursuing. Many of the women reported that this new living situation left them lonely with little social or economic support. They are treated by most Mexicans as inferior. As a Psychology major, this gave me real life experience in listening to another person who needed social support. I got to experience giving that kind of support by listening to whatever was on their mind.

Sharing this research with others during both a side and parallel events at the UN, reinforced how imperative it is to give these Tarahumara women the support that they are lacking. Finding solutions to help these women deal with their lack of economic and social support could truly change their living situations and help them feel like they belong. While participating at CSW62 we had the opportunity to visit one of the UN specialized branches, the liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN). This was an agency I had never heard of and wished I had known about it sooner.

I think that the FAO-UN is an agency that could help the Tarahumara women receive stronger economic support. FAO-UN specializes in making agriculture more productive and inclusive. The FAO-UN could truly empower the Tarahumara women and community by helping them find useful jobs that are necessary and important to the Mexican people as well as the Tarahumara. This would enable the Tarahumara to feel needed and supported as well as help them feel like they belong. With the help of the FAO-UN, the Tarahumara have the potential to develop a meaningful and supportive relationship with the Mexican community.

My time at the UN gave me more insight and increased my determination to continue pursuing my educational and occupational goals to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). It showed me how essential and significant the field of social work is. At the UN, I was able to learn about the broad, various opportunities that are available to me as I work towards and become a LCSW. It created a greater understanding of the great influence I could have in the lives of women and children throughout the world as a social worker. That is why I want to become a LCSW, to make a difference in the life of at least one woman and the UN showed me that this goal is realistic and crucial.

 Hannah Barlow, Utah Valley University student

Ezra Pugliano: Days for Girls – Going the Extra Mile

Kim Wu, West Jordan, UT Team Leader Days for Girls

On March 05, 2018 I had the opportunity to give an hour of service to the International Women’s Day celebration on Utah Valley University campus. I was not quite sure what service they needed done, but I was willing to help. The organization started due to a need for reusable pads for girls in developing countries. Girls in foreign countries were using unhealthy alternatives to pads, some resulted in serious sickness or even death. Many of them missed on average a week of school once a month because of their monthly cycle. This led to a high rate of drop outs among female students. To combat this, the Days for Girls Organization started.

Employees of Chick-fil-A of South Jordan

After I left the event at UVU I felt as though there was more I needed to do. An hour of service was not enough, and I knew once other people knew of the organization, they would help too. I reached out to the West Jordan Days for Girls chapter and they informed me they were in desperate need of girl’s underwear. So I made a video on Facebook asking my friends for help. Within a day of posting my video had over 1,500 views and 25 shares. I decided to make it as convenient as possible for people to help by making an Amazon list, accepting cash donations, and allowing drop off donations at my home. With the $325 I received in cash donations and the items dropped off at my home, we collected over 622 pairs of underwear!

Employees of Chick-fil-A of South Jordan

However collecting the underwear was simply not enough, more had to be done. I lead a service group at Chick-fil-A of South Jordan named “SOJO Serves” and knew my coworkers would love to help. With the support of my Operator Becky Pickle, we met with the Days for Girls organization and got to work on March 27, 2018. We sorted through the underwear, organizing them by size and color. We cut out cloth pads which would be later used in the hygiene kit. We had twenty-two employees show up and serve for two hours. We were able to create hundreds of hygiene kits which in turn will be used to save the lives of many girls in countries like Africa and India.

This would not have happened without the help of the Days for Girls organization, my amazing coworkers, and the many people who donated. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be educated on the use of reusable hygiene products and how necessary they are for girls’ development. Because of this project I learned that if you wish to see change in the world, start with yourself.

Ezra Pugliano, Utah Valley University student

Isak Larsen: My contribution to women advocacy at CSW62

Isak Larsen, Dr. Eddy Cadet, Carol Bejar Orellana and Christopher Cardenas at the United Nations

As part of my participation at the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on Status of Women (CSW62) in New York on March 19-21, 2018, I put a lot of effort into preparing my presentation during a side event about empowering rural and mountain women at the United Nations (UN) headquarters.  Not including the field work and research that had already been done, the PowerPoint presentation that I gave took a lot of fine tuning and practice.  I had to cover the research, along with how it applied to the status of women in Senegal and about engaged learning at Utah Valley University (UVU).  Before preparing this presentation, I had never heard anyone talk about UVU’s engaged learning model before, but now I realize that I have been benefiting from that model ever since I got to UVU.  Ever since I got here, I have been invited to work with professors on research projects, have gone on field trips, and know each of my professors personally.  It is easy to see that they are engaged in me and my progress in school.

When we went to New York, everything was a new experience for me.  One thing that stood out to me was that even though I am an unknown, unimportant young guy from a small town in Arizona, nobody there knew that. I was treated, not like a student, but like what I was doing and what I was presenting was important outside of academia.  It is, and was that important but telling others about it in New York reiterated to me the importance of my research, engaged learning in schools, and thinking about women’s rights.

Isak Larsen (first from the right) presents during a side event at CSW62

The worldwide status of women became so much more important to me.  Being a man in the United States of America, I don’t think about women’s rights, and if I do, I see that they have equal opportunity and ability in the vast majority of arenas in our country.  In New York I learned of the struggles of women in other countries.  For example, I befriended a group of female college students from the Chechen Republic in Russia.  There, it is the “norm” for men to abuse women however they please with no repercussions in informal settings, but in formal dating, men and women are not allowed to touch each other.   Meanwhile, in Chechnya, marriages are typically totally dominated by the man, and if a man openly treats his wife with love and respect, he is publicly mocked.  We met with the Ambassador from Botswana, who recounted the progress that has been made in that country in empowering women and giving them equal rights with men.  Still, many women in Botswana are not allowed to sit in the main body on a chair in village meetings: they are allowed to sit on skins over on the side. Women are still not really permitted to wear pants in parts of that country.  Attending the CSW62, and speaking with women from other cultures really brought new issues to my eyes.

As for what we did, my first afternoon in New York was amazing as I had never been in a dense metropolitan area like this, though I had seen Manhattan depicted in so many movies and TV shows.  I was astounded by the tall buildings, narrow streets, and lack of space between the buildings.  Also, I found that for the most part New Yorkers were far nicer than their reputation suggests.  That night, I enjoyed a little bit of the food and culture of Korea Town.   The next morning, we went to the UN, got our id cards, and went through security.  I met the owner of the gift shop there who told me she was from Egypt, and that she kept the store stocked with souvenirs from almost every country in the world.  I met another woman who worked at the UN and surprisingly seemed bored with her job even though she was in charge of international relations between all the countries of the world and had lived in Cambodia and other places for her job.  My presentation during a side event went well.  The setting was not exactly what I expected, and I had not heard many of the other speeches that were given: they were all superb.  In the afternoon, we learned a lot about the UN when we visited the UN Department of Public Information, then we went and learned about feeding the world at the liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.

On Tuesday the 20th, it was my birthday!  It was so great to experience so many new things and places on my birthday.  My fellow student Carol presented at the parallel event that day and she did a great job.  I was glad to hear from Mr. Poole from the non-governmental organization “Fatherhood and Motherhood are Sacred” who was also a part of our event.  The speeches he gave on both days were fantastic.  That afternoon, we learned a lot from the Ambassador of Botswana.

Even with all the important meetings on this trip, I was still able to go see Time Square, The Empire State Building, Central Park, Trump Tower, and Cathedrals.  Though short, it was an amazing and educational trip.

Isak Larsen, Utah Valley University student


Rob Smith: Great lessons of student engaged learning at the United Nations

Rob Smith at the United Nations

The trip to the United Nations (UN) to participate at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women during March 19-21, 2018 was an incredible experience both for my peers and for me. We had the opportunity to go with our group from the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) and present at the UN. As a student, I have had opportunities to present, but being able to present at the United Nations was something I would have never imagined I would get the chance to do while being a student at UVU. Aside from being a member of the club, I am also the Student Body President at UVU. I had the privilege of presenting about UVU and more specifically, its Engaged Learning Model. The Engaged Learning Model that the university has is what has made it possible for our club to go to the UN and present. Many of the students from our group presented on research they have done specifically around sustainability and development in mountainous regions. I was honored to be able to present on how and why these students are able to get involved and work on projects like these. The Engaged Learning Model at UVU is geared around giving students opportunities outside of the classroom to engage in real world experiences. The model allows for us to not only be able to do the research that had been done, but to also take it and present to the local, regional, and even global audiences like in this case, through the UN to continue our initiatives.

Rob Smith (third from the left) during a side event presentation on March 19, 2018

Each day we presented, we gave a chance for people to ask us questions. On the day we presented at a parallel event on March 20, 2018, we were asked by people in the audience how they could take back what they learned from our presentation and implement it in their own way where they are from. It was amazing to see how the work we had done was something that other people wanted to be a part of and asked for help from the UIMF to make these implementations. It was a testament to the great students, faculty, and staff that are at UVU and have put so much time and effort into this project. It was a tremendous experience to represent both UVU as the Student Body President and as a member of the UIMF.

The first of day of our trip to the United Nations was very interesting and fascinating for me. First of all, it was my first time in New York City. It was amazing to see the energy of the city, especially around the UN Building. When we went into the UN Building, it was truly amazing to see the diversity within it. There were people from all around the world speaking many different languages and representing their own countries and people. It was a humbling experience for me to be able to be at the UN with all of these people. One of the things that I loved about it the most was that all of these people were here working for something good. Although we each come from different places and the needs of our countries and people are different, people are there to work towards a better life for others. They are striving to bring peace and bring forth initiatives like sustainable development that can make better not only their own country, but the entire world.

Rob Smith with his son Thomas and wife Kati at Madison Square Garden

My experience at the UN was also a great networking opportunity. I was able to get to connect with professors and staff members from UVU who I had never had the privilege of knowing. They were there to encourage me and give great feedback on my presentations as well as listen to me and hear my goals and aspirations and offer up advice that they have from their immense life and career experiences. They were also able to share some of their own experiences that gave me reasons to think about as I move forward with my goals. We also had the wonderful opportunity to meet with and talk with people from around the world. Ambassadors of different countries accredited at the UN, UN Staff, and many others were there. I had the chance to talk with a few of them and hear their stories and what they do. When I was able to talk with them, it opened my eyes to how many opportunities are out there from around the world. Opportunities like this, especially for a student, are so valuable. We learn so much when we get these opportunities to network with and learn from so many different people with such diverse backgrounds. It helps us open our eyes to the rest of the world and provides us with tremendous opportunities.

Rob Smith, Utah Valley University Student Body President

Congressman Chris Stewart Security Summit

Students and faculty at Utah Valley University had the incredible opportunity to attend Congressman Chris Stewart’s Security Summit on March 26, 2018. This event is an annual event where Representative Stewart invites national voices of security to Salt Lake City, Utah and allows each to address a wide variety of topics that range from national unity to security in areas like Tunisia. The topic of this year’s summit was the role of America in providing international security.

First to address the group of local and regional military leaders, citizens, students, and faculty was Byron York, an active author of articles in the Washington Examiner. Mr. York attempted to create a case for why the security and rule of law in the United States has been compromised by the collusion with Russia accusations and following investigation. He argued that submitting our nation’s highest official to this kind of scrutiny prevents law enforcement agencies and resources from doing their job. Following his presentation, he answered questions about the changes that could happen in the current administration following the changes in the National Security Officer, Secretary of State, and VA President.

Following to address the attendees was Jennie Johnson, a professor at Utah State University who spoke on importance of international diplomacy through the CIA and State Department. As a serving official in the CIA for over 30 years, Ms. Johnson addressed how the duty of the CIA remains to be to speak truth to power, providing credible evidence whether good or bad, to the senior policymakers in the United States. She argued that the role of the CIA is also to possess sufficient understanding of the enemies of the United States and to provide actionable intelligence that can then be used to prevent attacks on the United States. She then shifted into the State Department as well and explained the various categories of the State Department algorithm that provides insight into how other nations act. First, we must identify how the country sees itself and the United States. Next, you must understand the norms that the countries adhere to and the affect that these norms have on other states. Finally, you must create actionable intelligence that can be used to predict and prevent attacks against the United States. Finally, she argued that political theory summarizes that when one country strives to maintain hegemonic power, other countries will inevitably rise up against the hegemony. She posed the question of how U.S. policymakers will strive to maintain this standard.

Next to present was Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser MD, an accomplished surgeon who also represents the Muslim community on a national level. He argued that powers like Saudi Arabia that strive to represent change in the Islamic faith yet continue in totalitarian theocratic power represent a significant threat to United States security. He said that current U.S. policy is reminiscent of “whack-a-mole”, where the nation addresses problems as they come up. He claims that the United States must adjust to a preventative policy that will prevent jihadist terrorism before it happens. Other speakers in the conference included Representative Stewart’s Chief of Staff, who discussed China’s land grab, Iran’s global terrorist network, and intelligence community reform; the Ambassador to the United States for the Republic of Tunisia Faycal Gouia, who discussed the building of new democracy; and finally, Senator Tim Scott and Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina delivered a riveting message on national unity and how the only way that the United States can maintain national security is by remaining unified.

I believe this was a great opportunity for UVU students in the Sustainable Mountain Development Program to be able to better understand how national security issues can be solved for mountain communities. Unity with mountain regions and providing security for those areas will prevent the systematic and prevailing violence that seems to continually affect mountainous regions.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs club at Utah Valley University



Sam Elzinga -The Congressman Chris Stewart Security Summit an Intern’s Perspective


Day 3 for UIMF at CSW62: Matthew Rands – Student engaged learning through networking

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student led clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), worked vigorously at the United Nations 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), in New York from March 19th to March 21st, 2018. During their three-day presence there, students learned valuable lessons in how to better frame their efforts in promoting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5 on gender, with an emphasis on mountain women in order to secure placement of their major recommendations in the final CSW document.

Morning Briefing for NGOs during CSW62

From March 19-20, 2018, we were able to gain valuable learning experiences on UN advocacy processes through hosting a side and parallel event. We already expected major outcomes by studying procedures, regulations, and making practical preparations to both events for more than one year. But many new lessons came as we attended the daily Morning Briefing held by NGO CSW/NY for NGOs participating at the CSW62 at the UN headquarters on Wednesday, March 21st. NGO CSW62 Forum organized 440 parallel events during two weeks of activities of the CSW62 which included our parallel event on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.  During briefing, three individuals representing UNWomen and CSW62 NGO/NY informed the participants of around 100 people representing NGOs from around the world, including our group about major activities at CSW62 and negotiations about the content of the final document of the forum. Many of the NGOs were concerned about the negations for the final CSW document. Mrs. Lopa Banerjee from UNWomen spoke on how vital civil society is in helping the member states to pass legislation and assured that NGOs related to women would help influence the final document.

UIMF members during the Morning Briefing for CSW62 NGOs

In the Q&A portion of the meeting, our student members gained new experiences of how to address co-chairs of the briefing, to being pro-active and use the event to find answers on their important questions. The UIMF team made efforts for several months and were able convince the secretariat of CSWNGO to include in the Zero Draft (the final document) of CSW62 language concerning the importance of focusing more attention from international community on mountain women, and how student engaged learning initiative could contribute to those efforts as UVU demonstrated during more than 10 years by hosting the international Women of the Mountains Conferences in the State of Utah and overseas. As we checked the updated draft of the CSW document before the briefing, our proposed language was no longer included. The response was that member states had objections in listing groups based on geography in the final document. They would prefer to reference women across the world instead of specific groups. This tactic of avoiding lists does not discredit the importance of a group, but rather avoids unnecessary stress during negotiations in fear of excluding other groups. At the same time, our second question about the importance for CSW62 and the UN to pay attention to non-traditional students as an important group of contributors to the implementation of SDG#5 on gender attracted attention from many NGO members attending the meeting. They were interested in the idea that: any type of student from universities around the world, not only the youth can carve out a path in advocating for the implementation of the SDGs.

(Right to left) Matthew Rands, President, UIMF with Masako Hiramatsu, Business & Professional Women NGO, Japan and Tomoe Hayashi, Tokyo President, NPO Corporation National Federation BPW Japan during morning briefing

Both before and after the meeting, students of the UIMF greeted representatives of other NGOs and created connections. These contacts will come in handy as UIMF members look to create an even larger coalition in coming 63rd session of the Commissions on the Status of Women to prove how students play a vital role in advocating SDG #5 on gender equality.

From left to right: Mrs. Wendy Jyang, Derek Garfield, Matthew Rands, Mr. Richard Jordan, Dylan Genes

After the briefing, we explored one such new and important contact during a subsequent informal meeting with Mr. Richard Jordan, who has been involved in activities at the UN headquarters for 39 years. He was in addition to numerous activities included in his bio  one of the 5 original co-founding editors of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin as well as Director of UN Operations for the Royal Academy of Science Intl. Trust.

Derek Garfield, Dylan Genes and myself, as leaders of UIMF were able to find answers to many of our questions, learned how to overcome challenges that we faced this year in the future, and successfully insert desired language about mountain women in the final CSW document next year. Mr. Jordan advised for example to use as a reference the “Future We Want,” the final document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 (RIO+20), which has one paragraph dedicated to the mountains. In addition, he suggested to use the High Level Political Forum 2018 (HLPF) to reach out to the different diplomatic missions and advocate through Student Engaged Learning the empowerment of rural women globally, especially women in mountainous areas. Mr. Jordan also mentioned strategies he personally used to acquire information and speak to Ambassadors when needed and offered students what he called a gold mine of information regarding UN processes, which he offered to be stored at UVU. This suggestion will help to both attract future students to advocate in their promotion of the SDGs and educate current UIMF members in the different routes available in advocating at the UN: one such option would be to make the UIMF an NGO with ECOSOC status, which would allow future students the opportunity to go the UN and have the tools to advocate more effectively on a global level.

As a student, I had the opportunity to see exactly how UVU’s engaged learning model works. It is a model that if replicated, will benefit countries that have adopted it in their universities. I believe that students are among the most energetic, motivated, and service oriented in the world. Students will be able to help promote the implementation of SDGs by participating directly in the advocacy process.

The Utah International Mountain Forum members will be much better prepared now with materials needed such as an E-course from the FAO-UN and publications and experiences shared by Mr. Jordan. In future events, students will be able to continue to promote through the UVU student engaged learning model the implementation of SDGs, particularly goal #5 regarding gender equality especially with focus on mountain women.

Matthew Rands, President, UIMF