Category Archives: 2018

Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic about Bosnia and Herzegovina policies at the United Nations

Mr. Milos Vukasinovic is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations. Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Mr. Vukasinovic titled: “Bosnia and Herzegovina at the UN” on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 to better understand foreign policy priorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina on global arena. Mr. Vukasinovic began by lauding the United States for their support of Bosnia and Herzegovina after the terrible war that was only ended with the Dayton Peace Accords. Over many years, Bosnia and Herzegovina had been under the control of empires. After the fall of the Soviet Union, much work was needed to unite the multiethnic state under one constitution and one parliament. The Dayton Peace Accords were the framework used to united these post-Soviet Union nations.

Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic during presentation at UVU

Using best practices derived from several organizations, primarily the Organization of Security Corporation in Europe, the Peace accords were designed to unite the divided nations among and create a new nation. Mr. Vukasinovic was very focused on the importance of using these peace accord to build a new culture and tradition formed after the unique nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not those of the Soviet Union. He also discussed the importance of looking to other nations that have achieved similar goals, and to apply those to the communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Finally, the Ambassador discussed the importance of his countries application to the EU, NATO, and other multilateral organizations. The impacts of this final point are very important, the model seems to reflect the idea that the more connected a nation is, the better it can increase its growth and development.

I believe that this is a good model for mountain communities to follow. First, to separate themselves from nations that may be exploiting them; second, to form their own unique political and socioeconomic atmosphere; third, looking to other nations near or relative similarity; and fourth, a relentless desire to expand trade and foreign multilateral ties to away from isolationist policies. This final step is especially important to mountain communities. It is important that mountainous regions form strong relations with local multilateral organizations and governance. Mr. Vukasinovic finished his presentation discussing the vital role of women in the socioeconomic and political landscapes. He stated that one of the most important foreign policy priorities was to rebrand the nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a new image with a high level of nationalism and activity. I believe that this idea has far-reaching applications in mountainous communities as well. If mountain communities can follow this model, I believe that they will be able to rebrand themselves and effectively change the culture and tradition of mountain regions to better promote sustainable growth and development. I was impressed with Mr. Vukasinovic’s presentation and I believe that real-time application of the ideas discussed by Mr. Vukasinovic can have important effects on mountainous communities.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs club at UVU


International Women’s Day at UVU



Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted the panel of several prominent guests titled: “Time is now: rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” under the umbrella of the International Women’s Day on March 6, 2018.

First we had an introduction from each of the representatives on the panel. First is Celina Milner, she is a Utah native. She attended college in New York and has always had a love for politics. She ran for the House of Representatives and the Senate and lost in both races. However because of her experiences she is now a Political Consultant for Woman. Mrs. Gail Bindley is from the Caribbean. She was the only girl in her family and she grew up with a supportive father who allowed her to wash the car and had his sons wash the dishes. He encouraged her to make her voice heard and this is where her love for feminism comes from. She is now a journalist and works at the United Nations. Shirlee Silversmith, American Indian from the Bear People Clan and was raised in a village in Arizona. She is the director for the Utah Director of Indian Affairs. Utah has eight sovereign nations that have Indian Americans living on them. Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic said that before the war his life was good, however after the war his life was difficult. He became a legal representative in former Yugoslavia, and after the war broke out he was able to get away. He then became a judge and is now a diplomat and has spent most of his career working with the UN.

Each member of the panel were asked one general question about the importance of the International Women’s Day, first we hard that since women are living longer and are more than half of the population. By honoring women all around the world they can become more empowered. According to Celina men still hold onto two jobs, first is banking and second is politics. Gail Bindley said that by empowering women you will encourage your children to continue to pursue education and inspire others. She also mentioned that the closing the gender gap, educating people of female genital mutilation, and lastly the “me too” movement are why this day is so vital. Shirlee Silversmith said she wants to work on including tribal nations in women movements as often times they do not feel included or invited. Lastly, the Ambassador Vukasinovic said that although there are many days that celebrate women, this one should be supported daily but especially awareness raised on this day.

The first question then was asked regarding how the Utah Valley University will be teaming up with the UN and having a discussion with students involved about the pay gap between women and men. Gail Bindley explained that women all around the world have to travel to events to discuss things that are happening in their community. By doing this they can raise awareness and become empowered, many rural women feel secluded and alone. Many do not have the proper education, and many are mothers. However by allowing rural women to be included and reach out to them, we can improve relations.

I am very glad I was able to attend the panel and continue to learn more about women situation internationally. I liked that the panel had a diverse group of women and men, all from different background and some have different beliefs and values. But all came today because they want to build women up. All of the speakers were very inspiring, however one really stood out to me: Shirlee Silversmith, the Director of Utah Indian Affairs, inspired me on many levels. I was unaware of the challenges surrounding tribal women in the state of Utah. Also, Celina is writing a book on female candidates and the hardships surrounding campaigns. She compared running for office to childbirth. Lastly she compares election night to the “birthing of the baby.” I have a strong draw to politics and hearing how an election works from someone who has run for office and knows how it feels was an interesting perspective. This panel was inspiring and I am glad I was able to learn more about women and the International Women’s Day.

 Ezra Pugliano, member, SMD club




Kymberlee Anderson-Celebrating women worldwide


Celebrating International Women’s Day with Days for Girls International

Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to serve in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 5, 2018. The international group, Days for Girls, provided the opportunity to serve women in poverty-stricken areas of the world. Days for Girls International was founded with the simple idea of creating a sustainable solution to women’s reproductive health education and execution. The CEO of the group, Celeste Mergens, addressed students at UVU and explained the foundation and purpose of Days for Girls. She explained that the idea was formulated after watching many of the women and girls in poverty-stricken areas struggle with basic hygiene and feminine care. When a girl passes through puberty, her body is subjected to many changes, and the lack of formal education makes this problematic. The cultural stigma of these bodily changes is imbedded into areas of low education, the members of the community often shun the girls who are passing through this change. Celeste Mergens saw these problems in low-income areas, and formulated the concept of an international relief society that would be able to not only educate, but also provide resources for girls that are in desperate need of sexual health education. She explained that the key reason why targeting this demographic is so important is because these bodily changes and resulting shame culture often prevent these girls from attending school. The lack of education has profound negative effects on the overall GDP growth of a nation. So thus, as one can correct the solution of female reproductive resources and education would allow more girls to attend school, gain more skills, and thus raise their own income, and the income of the community and GDP. The resulting relief society, Days for Girls International, provides training, education, and personal objects of dignity (PODs) that contain resources such as washable, reusable pads that can allow low-income girls to attend school more often.

Students help to create personal objects of dignity for Days for Girls International

At Utah Valley University, students had an opportunity to help to create these PODs. Each student was tasked with either tracing, cutting, or sowing together various parts of the PODs. Together the students were able to create thousands of pads, educational resources, and bag to help support girls in low-income areas. I had the opportunity to help by tracing the outlines for the materials and providing pins to create the fabrics together, that were then cut and sewn together to create a washable and reusable pad. It was an amazing opportunity for me to serve, in only an hour of time, I traced and pinned hundreds of pads that could then be included in the PODs. It was astounding that only an hour of volunteer work can provide hundreds of women with simple hygiene items that can, in turn allow them to attend school and achieve education that can provide for a sustainable lifestyle in the future. This initiative helped to demonstrate to me the easiness of helping to provide sustainable solutions to poor and struggling communities. This program has far-reaching implications on low-income areas and especially mountain women and communities and I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to help in this facet of sustainable community service. The opportunity for students of Utah Valley University to participate in this project has far-reaching implications for the global lowland and mountain communities.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs club


Photos from the Days for Girls event




Rebecca-Bindraban-Days for Girls commemorates International Women’s Day

Caitlin Tomly – International Women’s Day with Days for Girls International


Discussing CSW62 preparations with PR of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN, Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic

Mr. Milos Vukasinovic is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations. In the morning of Tuesday, March 6, 2018, the members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), had the opportunity to discuss with Ambassador Vukasinovic about the planned visit and presentation at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at the United Nations. This is a part of the established tradition of UVU engaged student learning model where students have an opportunity to discuss with visiting dignitaries their activities with focus on the advocacy of the United Nations gender and sustainable mountain development agendas since the moment of establishment of UIMF in 2011. The model allows students to gain experiences and skills through hands-on activities promoting the UN agenda, which they implement as a group with faculty mentoring them when it is necessary. As part of that group, I had my special assignment to record the presentation of the Ambassador Vukasinovic on video camera with further editing content and then posting the final product on a special YouTube channel.

After short introductions, the delegation members discussed the importance of their presentation at CSW62 about fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. They highlighted the role of the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina along with Ambassador Vukasinovic in sponsoring a side event at CSW62 which presents the UVU student engaged learning model in order to globally advocate the cause of the mountain women. This happened for the first time in UVU history thanks to the role of the Global Engagement office and its head, Dr. Baldomero Lago, who were both able to get UVU accepted as Associate member of the United Nations Department of Public Information and to assemble a 26-member delegation to contribute to the agenda of the CSW62 on March 19-23, 2018.

Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic during the meeting with UIMF members

The Ambassador then took a short moment to address the important stance of Bosnia and Herzegovina in working at the United Nations and in developing and improving the livelihood of mountain communities.

He also discussed important steps that Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken with the World Bank and European Union in order address the rights of the women in their society. Citing policy changes since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ambassador Vukaisnovic stated that in the social system more respect for women has been garnered than could have been thought possible. More than that, tradition and ground has been cleared for strengthening participation of women in socioeconomic as well as political systems. Citing a unique strength of the recent changes, Mr. Vukasinovic stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina actually have more female students than current male students. In recent years, the number of women in peacekeeping operations have soared as well, citing that though Bosnia and Herzegovina have few peacekeepers, female recruitment has been increasing popular.

Overall, it was a great opportunity for UVU students like me, and the UIMF delegation members who will go to the UN on March 19-23, 2018 to better understand the policies that Bosnia and Herzegovina have towards celebrating and empowering women and other mountain communities to better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Andrew Jensen, member, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU


Photos of the Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic visit to UVU



Rebecca Bindraban-Student engagement with Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic


Monica English-Interacting with Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic

Marcia Barlow: how to advocate at the United Nations

UIMF preparations to present at 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Throughout the past year, students of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), worked diligently in strategizing how to present UIMF efforts to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62). Main efforts include: 1. Coordinating with the Mountain Partnership and NGOs to create a unified message, which will be taken to the UN 2. Inviting fellow students and faculty with various research experiences to participate at CSW62 as part of the UIMF delegation. 3. Fundraising to allow cover the travel expenses of the delegation in their trip to the UN Headquarters in New York City. 4. Inviting distinguished guests that have prior CSW or general UN presentation experience to train the UIMF delegation to be more effective in their presentation at the CSW62.

Efforts began when UIMF leadership extended the invitation to Andrew Taber and Dr. Jed Shilling of the Mountain Partnership, Ms. Wendy Jyang of the China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands, and Rusty Butler of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, an NGO with ECOSOC status under the UN. At a roundtable discussion, ( the UIMF facilitated discussion on how non-traditional students, particularly at UVU can promote mountain related targets under the UN SDGs. Creating a framework, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences was then able to submit a written statement to the UN on behalf of all who participated in the discussion, which ultimately secured a parallel event for the UVU delegation at CSW62 on March 20th, 2018Through connections made through UIMF efforts in previous years and with the assistance of the Office of Global Engagement at UVU, the delegation was able to secure a side event at CSW62, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN and by the Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations.

With the three CSW62 goals (1. Making a written statement. 2. Schedule a Side Event. 3. Schedule a Parallel Event) of the UIMF accomplished, UIMF members extended the invitation to their fellow students and faculty to participate and present their work at the CSW62. Although the research projects of the invited members vary, all retain the recurring theme of Engaged Learning, especially with non-traditional students that can contribute locally. Engaged Learning takes a student that may normally be focused solely on his or her studies and creates a mindset of service and applying learned principles to better their local and international surroundings. The student-led UIMF delegation has met frequently to fulfil logistical needs of the delegation and to strategize their involvement with the UN.

As a part of the preparations for Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), and fellow UVU students and faculty’s attendance to the UN CSW62, we invited Mrs. Marcia Barlow, Vice President of International Programs for United Families International (UFI) to come to UVU and provide instruction and guidance to our delegation.  Mrs. Barlow has a wealth of experience gained over 20 years, during which time she has participated in many UN conferences and commissions where she conducts high-level advocacy for her organization, which has had NGO consultative status through the UN Economic and Social Council since 1997.

Marcia Barlow (third from the left) with members of our delegation

Our desire to increase our voice during CSW62 led us to reach out to Mrs. Barlow at the suggestion of Dr. Abdrisaev, UIMF’s faculty advisor.  Mrs. Barlow attended UN CSW 61 last year and became acquainted with UIMF members at that time. Acting on this recommendation, UIMF members coordinated events throughout the day to take maximum advantage of Mrs. Barlow’s visit to UVU. UIMF members used club funds to purchase plane tickets and host a lunch for the UVU students, faculty, and staff who have supported our delegation. (

Our activities of the day began with Mrs. Barlow giving an information rich introduction to effective advocacy at the UN to help students make the greatest impact possible during our time at the UN. All the information presented served to better prepare me as an advocate, but as a student leader and organizer for our combined delegation, The delegation learned the importance of making personal connections to the right people so that our message is persuasive in the appropriate channels in which we hope to be able to raise a greater awareness of shared issues facing mountain women here in Utah and around the world. We are happy to report that our side event will be co-sponsored by the diplomatic missions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in addition to Uzbekistan. This is a great opportunity to put into practice the knowledge we gained from Mrs. Barlow regarding building relationships to persuade.

During the interim period between Mrs. Barlow’s presentation and our delegation’s lunch, we were privileged to converse with her at length about UIMF, UVU’s Engaged Learning model, the Women of the Mountains Conference, and Utah culture and history. The conversation leads Mrs. Barlow to a deeper understanding of the ideas which our delegation hopes to share at the UN as well as increased my appreciation for her and the respect she showed to us as engaged students.

Our afternoon meeting allowed for our delegation and Mrs. Barlow to review our presentations and the general format of the events with the aim of honing and refining the way we present our message. Mrs. Barlow recommended that each student presenter create and bring a flyer or pamphlet with relevant information and contact details to give to interested parties, to include diplomats and NGO leaders, so that they would have a physical reference to our message as well as a way to contact us for more information. We are confident that her input and perspective will lead to a more effective showing at the UN.

Matthew Rands, President, UIMF

Derek Garfield, Vice-President, UIMF



Power point for UN Training, UVU 2018


Photos of the Marcia Barlow’s visit to UVU


Announcement about Marcia Barlow visit to UVU


Monica English-Marcia Barlow and the UVU Delegation to the UN


Andrew-Jensen-Advocacy Lessons at the UN from Marcia Barlow


Isak Larsen-Marcia Barlow about advocacy at UN


From Caitlin Tomly-Learning UN advocacy from Marcia Barlow


Dylan Genes-UIMF hosts Marcia Barlow


Kyler Pigott-Discussing sustainable mountain development with Marcia Barlow


Anthony Franks-Marcia Barlow: the tools Needed for engaged learning

Contributing to CSW62 Zero Draft Document Through Student Engaged Learning

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) made one more effort in achieving a successful visit and a participation at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) during 12-23 March 2018.  We contributed to the final document of CSW62 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 aims to establish a legal framework work for gender equality that member states agree to support after the CSW.

Our submission highlighted mountain women and proposed the following edit in the first sentence of the NGO CSW/NY CSW62 Zero Draft Outcome Document, topic Education, Employment and Technology, Paragraph #3: “Initiate a vocational transformation for girls from agricultural and domestic activities to entrepreneurship skill-set building:” “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.”

In addition, we contributed to the efforts of several non-governmental organizations (NGO) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to submit a request to make an oral statement at CSW62 before the official deadline on February 19, 2018. Since thousands of NGOs are registered for participation at CSW62, only very few of them could be allowed to make a short presentation during general discussions if they speak on the main themes of CSW62 and represent regional groups of NGOs.

Since 2016 UIMF members engaged in joint advocacy of the mountain women at CSW62 with the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), the Mountain Institute (TMI), and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce (UCFISH&D&C), three prominent NGOs accredited under ECOSOC. Those NGOs already submitted 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.

The statement focuses on the lack of attention from international communities to numerous challenges faced by mountain communities and women in particular, along with the crucial role of the Mountain Partnership in implementation of three mountain targets among SDGs globally. 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 highlights the student engaged learning model developed at UVU, a Mountain Partnership member since 2006.

In order to recruit a group of NGOs as co-sponsors for the oral statement, my colleagues and I made an appeal through the Mountain Partnership Secretariat  to 13 its members, NGOs in consultative status with the ECOSOC. As a result, Euromontana and the Millennium Institute (MI), two of the most prominent NGOs agreed to join three above mentioned NGOs as co-sponsors of the oral statement. Due to that,  the request to CSW62 to make an oral statement was submitted on behalf of five prominent NGOs. Currently, we are waiting for response from CSW62 whether they have accepted our request.


This initiative establishes a new mechanism for MP members to be more active in joint advocacy of the mountain targets among sustainable development goals (SDGs) during high level UN forum on implementation of SDGs and 2030 Development agenda.

It represents a follow up for one of the recommendations which was agreed by more than 220 participants during the Fifth Mountain Partnership Global Meeting at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) in Rome, Italy on 11-13 December 2017 to improve advocacy for mountains in major global processes and to promote joint communication efforts, in order mountains to be fully addressed and statements are fully taken into account,

Yanko Dzhukev, Vice President of Global Affairs and Outreach, UIMF

Learning from Kyle Maynard to live life with “no excuses”

It was an honor and privilege having Kyle Maynard speak to the Utah Valley University student body on February 1st, 2018. As a UVUSA Senator, I had the responsibility of helping decide who we’d like to invite as part of our lecture series. We met as a Senate early on in the summer to collaborate ideas, and when his name was brought up I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know who he was or what his “campaign” was. After doing more research on his story, it was very evident that his message would positively influence our student body. As time progressed, we began having more contact with him; he and his team are some of the most down to earth people I’ve had the privilege of working with. The day of his speaking event on campus came, and all of us senators were given the opportunity to meet with him before he presented his message to campus. We had a couple of hours before his actual event, and most of the speakers we bring to UVU spend this time beforehand resting in their private room or prepping their presentation. I watched as Kyle wheeled himself around our campus, freely and openly going up to students, comfortably conversing with them. I was most impressed that he never hesitated to stick his limbless arm out for people to shake his “hand”. As we ushered him to a pre-lunch event, I witnessed him stop mid-conversation with another Senator, turn his wheelchair around, and approach a student who was also in a wheel chair. I’m unaware of what was discussed during that long conversation, but the light in that student’s eyes as he felt connected to Kyle is a look I’ll never forget.

Kyle Maynard

Kyle’s presentation was astounding. We had over 500 students show up to this event, and as an usher, it was a unique experience to see how enthralled students were as they listened to his story. Kyle was born without arms or legs; as the oldest of his siblings, he shared a story about how his younger sister had a classmate without one arm. Kyle said his sister came home from school one day, telling her mother that this classmate was so inspiring because they don’t hesitate doing what others do. Kyle’s mom responded by agreeing with his sister that this classmate was inspiring, but also, the mother reminded Kyle’s sister about Kyle and all that he’s done. The sister proceeded to say, “Oh you’re right, I forgot Kyle doesn’t have any limbs”.

That story is just a small example of how Kyle continually lives his life with “no excuses”, not allowing his physical disability to affect his daily and long term life. As Kyle told the story of hiking to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro with only bathroom towels wrapped around his arms and legs, I could feel the reverent awe come over the audience and myself. Kyle’s inspiring message of purpose among hardship and not quitting, is one that no individual in that auditorium will ever forget. Engaging with Kyle Maynard and his team to inspire the Utah Valley University population, was a humbling and unifying experience. His personable approach with student’s and his applicable, life impacting message will continually teach myself and the student population that we are strong, and when life feels overwhelming, we have “no excuses” to drop our dreams and goals.

Amelia Cope, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senator, Utah Valley University Student Association



UVU Review About Kyle Maynard



Andrew Jensen-Award Winning Extreme Athlete Kyle Maynard at UVU: “No Excuses”


Timothy Jenkins-Inspired by Kyle Maynard


Ezra Pugliano-Kyle Maynard speaks at Utah Valley University


Karson Kester-Kyle Maynard on seeking our own “Why?”


Students host PR of Uzbekistan to the UN, Ambassador Bakhtiyor Ibragimov

On February 5, 2018, I had the opportunity and privilege to contribute to hosting the visit of Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations, His Excellency, Bakhtiyor Ibragimov to Utah Valley University (UVU).  I was there representing the UVU Foreign Affairs club as its president and the Youth in The Mountains Journal as its editor. This was an extremely unique opportunity for me to learn first hand about the foreign affairs priorities of Uzbekistan along with being able to ask questions directly to the Ambassador Ibragimov and discuss with him programs pursued by UVU students at the United Nations.

The meeting with the Ambassador of Uzbekistan was started from lunch with him and his fellow diplomat who accompanied him. It was a part of tradition established at UVU to get students participate at breakfasts and lunches with foreign dignitaries to learn how to build personal relationships with visiting dignitaries. During this lunch we got to learn about his background and how he came to be the top envoy of his country. He had the unique situation of living in Uzbekistan when it was still part the Soviet Union prior to it being broken up into the several countries it is today. Therefore, he had the uncommon perspective of being part of the Soviet system to then also being in Uzbekistan when the state declared its their independence in 1991. What was very interesting about this talk was when we as students were able to ask the Uzbekistan’s Ambassador how this breaking up of the Soviet Union impacted Uzbekistan and what it meant for Uzbek nationality as well. This was particularly interesting to hear about because learning about how states go from communist regimes to democratic systems is something as students we learn but its completely something else when you hear about it from someone who has been through it. Additionally, I found it intriguing that the country is 90% Muslim and that Uzbekistan had such an open and tolerant position on religions present in the country that are not Muslim.

Following lunch, the Uzbek Ambassador gave a lecture on the foreign policy priorities of his country. The topics he discussed included environmental issues, trade development in Central Asia along with new initiatives Uzbekistan is trying with their close neighbor Afghanistan. These initiatives include more friendly gestures such as reopening Uzbekistan presence in Afghanistan and open regular air flight routes between the countries. These gestures are in the wish of as the Uzbek Ambassador said “peace to the future” for the ailing Afghan state.

Ambassador Bakhtiyor Ibragimov with Rebecca Bindraban

After the lecture a group of students, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU ( including myself got to have a round table style discussion with the Ambassador Ibragimov to ask questions, and also had the opportunity to speak about what we do at UVU about the promotion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and in particular mountain targets through the efforts of both UIMF and its particular branches such as the Sustainable Mountain Development club, undergraduate student research journal “Youth and the Mountains,” and diverse activities including the annual commemorations of the United Nations International Mountain Days on December 11th.  Ambassador Ibragimov then spoke about how important Sustainable Development Goals are not only for the global communities but also for the people in his country which is of particularly interest to me as the chief editor of the Youth in the Mountains Journal at UVU which specifically is about mountain peoples, research and perspective about life and economics of people from the mountains

Overall it was an extraordinary opportunity to be part of such an engaged learning opportunity and to raise an awareness of the visiting dignitary of the contribution from our student community to the United Nationals agenda of global significance. It was fascinating to learn the perspective of the Uzbekistan people through their top envoy and to experience what the Ambassador of the country does regularly as the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United Nations.

Rebecca Bindraban, President, Foreign Affairs Club and editor, “Youth and the Mountains” journal 


Photos of the visit of the Uzbekistan’s Envoy to UVU 



Andrew Jensen-Interacting with Ambassador Ibragimov about foreign policy priorities of Uzbekistan


Warren-Kyle-Taking part at lunch with Ambassador Ibragimov


Kyler Pigot and Sam Elzinga -Thanking Ambassador Ibragimov for advocacy of the mountain women



Nathan Erickson-Learning about foreign policy priorities of Uzbekistan


Ezra Pugliano-Uzbekistan’s Envoy to the UN Ambassador Ibragimov speaks at UVU


Leslie-Sixtos-Cruz-Foreign Policy Priorities of the New Government of Uzbekistan


Caitlin Dally – PR of Uzbekistan to the United Nations,   Ambassador Bakhtiyor Ibragimov at UVU


Marie-Chantal Niwenshuti – Learning about Uzbekistan from top envoy to the UN


Congressman John Curtis town hall meeting

I had the opportunity to attend Representative John Curtis’s town hall meeting at the Orem City Council office On January 24, 2018. This was the first town hall that I have ever been to. I have been privileged to spend a year interning in Washington, D.C., but, I have not had much experience in politics at the local level, so this spring semester of 2018, being back in Utah, I have made it a goal of mine to become more familiar with local politics. I had heard a lot about John Curtis before, for the most part, all good things. The one criticism that I had heard previously was that he was a Democrat that had run as a Republican because he knew he wouldn’t be able to get into office otherwise. But, like in anything that I do in life, I like to question things for myself and go straight to the source.

Candidate John Curtis during town hall meeting on August 8, 2017

After listening to Representative Curtis for over an hour, I have to say that I walked away being pretty impressed with him. I think he will do a good job in D.C. at helping bring both sides together and not spend his time playing partisan politics. A major issue in D.C. right now is that both parties have become so polarized that passing any major legislation is difficult unless there is a substantial majority in one party in both chambers.  I think the biggest struggle that he will run into in D.C. is not having any name recognition and not being familiar with all the topics of today’s national politics. Truthfully, John Curtis is a small fish in a big pond. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as most politicians have to start at the bottom and make their way to the top.

Preston Parry as an intern in Washington, D.C.

At the town hall there were many opinionated people, mostly on the left. People were very outspoken, and some were even emotional. There was one woman in particular who was an undocumented immigrant. She was very upset with the way that the DACA issue was being handled at the national level and felt scared for herself and her family. She became so upset that she began to cry and yell and did not accept what Representative Curtis had to say. I think this is a huge problem, because if we cannot talk in a calm and composed manner, then we will have a very difficult time making any substantive progress in America.

I also had the opportunity to ask the Congressman a question. I asked Curtis how he felt about those in positions of power at the FBI and DOJ and some of the new allegations that are coming to light. As much as I liked most of what he had to say that night, his answer to my question was one that concerned me. He basically said that he believes that those who are in positions of power know what they are doing and that they are the best people for the job. He explained to me that he trusted those who were handling sensitive cases to the national security of the United States. This bothered me because we have seen time and time again why we should not trust someone just because they are powerful. If anything, I would argue that power and influence can have very negative affects on people. Additionally, I think we have seen much evidence laid out in the past couple months that suggest there have been huge issues at the highest levels of our government.

Overall, I am very happy that I got to attend the John Curtis’s town hall. I feel that he is a very good man who wants to do best for the people of the 3rd district of Utah. Being a junior congressman, I believe that he has a lot to learn, but I am confident that he will do so to the best of his ability. It is also my hope that collectively as Americans we can get to a point where we can have a dialogue that is both calm and productive.

Preston Parry, UVU student


Daily Herald about town hall meeting


To fight poverty globally by empowering students

Three non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the Mountain Institute, and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce will present their joint vision regarding the fight against poverty in mountainous regions of the world at the special United Nations forum fighting poverty at the beginning of 2018.

The United Nations Commission for Social Development will hold the fifty-sixth session on 31 January–7 February 2018. The priority theme of the session will be “strategies for the eradication of poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.”  It is a follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen – 1995, and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly: Social Development (26 June-1 July 2000, Geneva).

In a joint statement E/CN.5/2018/NGO/71, accepted and distributed by the United Nations Secretariat on December 1, 2017, they emphasized, that: “Today, mountain communities, being disproportionately affected by the challenges of living at high altitudes, and left almost on their own to deal with emerging new threats such as climate change, etc., are among the world’s poorest. They must be at the centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On their behalf, we must address poverty and hunger eradication; promote gender equality; provide decent work opportunities and economic growth; and develop industry and infrastructure. Lack of access to education and information further deepen their dependence.  About 39 percent of the mountain population in developing countries, or 329 million people are estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity, according to a recent study of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in collaboration with the Mountain Partnership Secretariat. When only rural areas are considered, nearly half the population is at risk. During the period 2000–2012, despite food insecurity decreasing at the global level, it increased in mountain areas. The study revealed a 30 percent increase in the number of mountain people vulnerable to food insecurity from 2000 to 2012, while the mountain population increased by only 16 percent.”

As one of the ways to raise awareness about the need for sustainable development and poverty eradication for mountain communities, they cite an example from Utah Valley University, which is an active contributor to the sustainable development of mountain communities in the developing world. UVU does this by engaging students, non-traditional students in particular, in a hands-on involvement and practical implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to address the eradication of poverty, principally in impoverished mountain regions of the world.

Non-traditional students are often older than 25 years old, and may have delayed enrolment into postsecondary education; attended university part-time and work full time; are financially independent for financial aid purposes; have dependents other than a spouse; are single parents; or do not have a high school diploma. The UN statement says that, “These students represent more than 30% of college students in the United States and many are women. However, most have diverse professional skills and experiences which they are ready and eager to contribute to benefit the global communities — mountain ones in particular.”

UVU’s model represents a service learning initiative which allows students through the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, to gain professional skills and experiences by addressing real-world problems such as poverty eradication at local, regional and United Nations levels with an instructor serving them as a mentor.

As a highlight of the model, three NGOs have mentioned that “The fourth international Women of the Mountains conference was hosted in Utah, October 7–9, 2015 solely through the efforts of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University. Members of the coalition, the majority of whom are non-traditional students, raised funds to host the event and brought diplomats, experts and women from mountain nations worldwide to Utah. The goal was to engage students in creating awareness and seeking solutions compatible with gender-related Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.” As a former president of the UIMF, I am grateful to all three NGOs and their leaders, Dr. Rusty Butler, Dr. Andrew Taber and Ms. Wendy Jyang for such high praise, and at the same time an objective evaluation of the efforts through which my peers and myself were able to contribute to the advancement of the mountain communities’ cause at the United Nations level.

The statement also mentioned that “The model allowed students, non-traditional ones in particular, to gain professional skills and experiences through the advocacy of different initiatives with a focus in particular on poverty eradication among the mountain communities on local and global levels. They did it by not only hosting the international Women of the Mountains Conferences and conducting research on gender norms, sexuality, and religion in Utah, but also by successfully teaching women business management in Zambia; working with students in Indonesia on tsunami-preparedness community education projects; conducting research on water quality in Senegal, the impact of mining and oil pipelines on indigenous people in Ecuador and globalization impact to Tarahumara Mexican women.”

I completely agree with recommendation made by these NGOs that “This experience demonstrates that students of all ages can play an essential role in the implementation of the 2030 development agenda of the United Nations, and in poverty eradication in particular. It can be used by other universities in rural and mountain states of North America and globally to provide similar benefits to their students, and at the same time encourage them to contribute to advocating the post2030 Development agenda with a focus on poverty eradication.”

The experiences which I have gained through working with the UIMF are incredible, and I hope that many students in other academic schools—especially throughout the Rocky Mountains region—would be able to do the same things: advance themselves professionally by promoting the noble cause of eradicating poverty, both in their neighborhoods and in the rest of the rural and mountainous world.

Tony Medina, President Emeritus, UIMF    

Statement submitted by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Mountain Institute, and the Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council


FAO-UN and MP news item about the event