On November 4th, 2019, the Utah Valley University Office for Global Engagement hosted its 3rd annual Utah Diplomatic Conference focused on foreign trade and investment between Utah and the rest of the world. This conference usually brings together trade representatives, consuls general, honorary consuls, and members of Utah’s state and local government to learn more about Utah’s role in international trade and diplomacy, all while being accessible for Utah Valley University (UVU) students interested in these areas of focus.
This year’s conference brought to UVU campus hundreds of guests from around the state of Utah and beyond, all while hosting official representatives of 13 countries who focused specifically on trade and investment. The foreign governments in attendance included: Australia, Canada, Czechia, Finland, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Astrid Tuminez, UVU President speaks during the diplomatic conference
The conference itself was divided into three distinct sections: the plenary session, the breakout sessions, and the networking session. The opening plenary was opened by Dr. Baldomero Lago, Chief International Officer on Global Engagement for Utah Valley University, who was then followed by President Astrid Tuminez, President of UVU, and lastly followed by Lieutenant Governor of the State of Utah Mr. Spencer Cox. Each of these esteemed presenters focused their remarks on welcoming all to the conference. Following him, David Utrilla, President of the Consular Corps of Utah, provided remarks, as did the Regional Director for the Office of Foreign Missions for the Department of State Christina J. Hernandez, followed by the Director of US Commercial Services, Shelby Daiek.
Dr. Val Hale, Executive Director for the Governor’s Office for Economic Development speaks during the diplomatic conference
After these remarks, attendees of the conference were able to hear from various business leaders from around Utah on their thoughts concerning foreign trade. Such presenters included Franz Kolb, the director of protocol for the State of Utah; Miles Hansen, the president of WTC Utah; Dr. Saeed Movani, Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at UVU, and Vicki Bennet, the director for sustainability for Salt Lake County. These speakers all remarked how Utah was a unique place with its international focus and presence of many citizens who speak foreign languages. Additionally, Utah continues to lead in emerging sectors like technology and cybersecurity, and as the world becomes more globalized, the demand for employees in these fields will only grow. However, the economic growth Utah will have from an increasingly global economy must be done so sustainably to ensure the environment is preserved. I personally found these remarks from these presenters to be particularly insightful.
After the plenary session, attendees were invited to participate in breakout sessions in another section of UVU and learn more about investment opportunities for their businesses in the foreign countries that were attended. Following the breakout sessions, a special networking session was made specifically for students to network with these diplomats and consuls to learn more about student opportunities.
Dr. Baldomero Lago, Chief International Officer, speaks during the diplomatic conference
UVU office for Global Engagement continued the tradition of having students through the student engaged learning to assist with hosting the conference by providing logistical and protocol services for VIP guests. It was so great and important that members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU were able to contribute to co-hosting the event.
From a student’s perspective, I think this was a fabulous conference and offered many new insights into an emerging and necessary field of international trade as it relates to technology and sustainability. Though this is the first time I have attended the conference, I was amazed at the ability of the UVU Global Engagement Office’s ability to put on an event like this. I am grateful for the chance I had to participate in this conference both as a volunteer and as a participant, and I am looking forward to attending next year.
Samuel Elzinga, President, UIMF
STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS