Tag Archives: 2015

2015 Women of the Mountains Conference Experiences: Drafting the Final Document

As students at Utah Valley University (UVU) approaching graduation, we really found ourselves wanting to get more involved professionally and practically, so to speak. We were looking for a cause to get involved with outside the classroom that would give us not only an experience, but would also allow us to distinguish ourselves in today’s competitive markets. Fortunately, we were able to find this opportunity in the 2015 International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) as members of the secretariat of the conference. WOMC was sponsored by number of international institutions including the United Nations Mountain Partnership and it took place at the UVU campus located in Orem, Utah on October 7-9, 2015.

The WOMC was a true model of student engaged learning. As you may or may not know, this year’s conference was facilitated by students; members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU. It was truly awesome to watch the conference unfold, seeing the incredible things that students are capable of, and to be able to be a part of it. Our faculty, and many other prominent scholars and experts throughout mountain communities, served as advisers guiding us students through the complex process; from raising funds to sending invitations and calls for papers, taking care of accommodation for participants, and many other things. While much effort went into the preparation and execution of the conference, it wasn’t until its successful end that the greater part of our work in the conference really began.

Our job as members of the Secretariat was to draft the final document of the 2015 WOMC, compiling thoughts and ideas from the conference participants, including recommendations to the international community on gender issues. In August 2015, Deann Torsak, executive secretary of the conference, distributed the various responsibilities among the members of the Secretariat. Initially four students signed up to work on the final document of the WOMC. However, by the end of the conference only two of us from original group remained committed to do that very important job. We accomplished our task under the guidance of our advisers Dr. Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, faculty in the History and Political Science Department at UVU and advisor of UIMF. We were extremely impressed and inspired by every participant’s level of dedication.

Our responsibilities included many activities important for the success of the conference and for our further professional growth, such as: analyzing similar documents, methodologies, and procedures adopted by other international forums. To achieve a high level of professionalism in our task required us to study additional academic literature, and the United Nations official documents, on different topics of gender and sustainable mountain development agendas. It was important for us also to utilize previous experiences accumulated by our predecessors during the adoption of this document. For example, we drew from the Orem Declaration of Mountain Women and the final document of the first International Women of the Mountains Conference in Utah, which was gathered in March 8-9, 2007.

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(L to R): Jesler Molina, outgoing President of UIMF, Rex Linder, and Seth Gordon during the session to discuss the draft of the final document of the WOMC

Drafting the document began by gathering the submitted papers of conference participants and recruiting recommendations and suggestions from them on their expectations of the final document. To ensure maximum accuracy and efficiency, our team divided the different panels between each of our members and studied the information collected before collaborating to prepare the initial draft of the document before the conference had begun. During the conference, each team member was assigned different sessions to attend, in order to make certain that all of the additional thoughts and ideas outlined by presenters would be incorporated into the developing draft of the document. As a result, we distributed and presented the first rough draft of the final document to all conference participants in a plenary session at the end of the conference activities on October 8, 2015.

For the month or so that followed the conference, we worked very diligently compiling notes and developing the various drafts of the document. In all, we sent out variants of the document to every conference participants three times. Each time the participant were given approximately one week to study it and to make suggestions concerning necessary changes to the: language used, to add new ideas, and recommendations, etc. We are so grateful to the many conference participants who actively corresponded with us regarding the document’s content and offered helpful and important suggestions. Mia Rowan, from the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, and Dr. Jed Shilling, from the Mountain Institute, were among our major contributors; and from whom we learned how to work on an official document of this caliber. It took close to a month and a half before the final version of the document was adopted by conference participants. That moment was the day of the approval of the document, which was the December 1, 2015. The final document was submitted to the Mountain Partnership Secretariat for further use and distribution among all interested stakeholders around the world. The Final Document is available at the WOMC 2015 web-site:   http://www.womenofthemountains.org/images/2015/15-12-02-WOMC-FINALIZED.pdf

As students of UVU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Seth-Philosophy and Rex-Political Science), we found that our education had definitely provided us with the necessary tools and prepared us for such a task. It was an amazing experience being in correspondence with the various participants in the conference, receiving suggestions and constructive criticism in order to accurately portray all of the presenter’s work and the overarching, critical messages of the conference. Our involvement in this conference provided us with invaluable real world experience and skills which include knowledge of bureaucratic processes, working in a team setting, and drafting a professional document, to name a few. We are glad that we were able to finish the job we started, seeing it through to its successful end. We are very proud of the level of quality we were able to achieve in this document, which was quite a challenging task for us; requiring a lot of time and dedication, while still juggling our regular school assignments and work responsibilities. The skills we gained here will undoubtedly assist us in our future endeavors.

We thank everyone that participated and contributed to the success of the conference.

Seth Gordon and Rex Linder, members of the 2015 WOMC Secretariat

My Engaged Learning Experience during the Women of the Mountains Conference

A lot of amazing and accomplished women representing mountain nations from different parts of the world graced the campus of Utah Valley University (UVU) during the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership located in Rome, Italy.  Our university hosted the WOMC on October 7-9, 2015 and I was fortunate to be a part of the students organizing committee and to contribute to the success of the conference. Our team was very happy that for the first time we were able to host this high level international conference entirely through the students’ efforts.  We were also glad to spread a word and raise awareness among so many people in the State of Utah and Rocky Mountain region about important gender issues and challenges for sustainable development for mountain communities.

I am also a member of Utah Valley University Multicultural Student Council (UVU MSC), which is an organization committed to helping historically marginalized groups, and WOMC presented a great opportunity to network and get together with many dignitaries, diplomats, officials, experts and scholars from a variety of local, regional and international institutions. Surely these amazing people from all around the globe had much to teach us.

During the conference I was part of media team and I worked closely with Jenny Starley, PR and Fundraising at the WOMC organizing committee. I was in touch with local newspapers and I contacted, for example, local newspaper Daily Herald with providing editors with media kit and all necessary information.

Picture1(L to R): Yankila Sherpa, President, Snow Leopard Trek, Nepal, Mia Rowan, Communications and Advocacy Officer, Mountain Partnership, F.A.O – U.N. and Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary, WOMC during the conference

Because of my similar responsibilities with UVU MSC, I was also able to photograph the participants who attended many different events during the conference. I am glad that many of my photos were later posted on Instagram, Facebook pages, Flickr pages of the WOMC and then were shared on the similar pages of the Mountain Partnership secretariat in Rome, Italy.

Many women-conference participants brought a perspective to this campus that I felt has been missing. They showed how each and every single individual can make a difference. I especially felt that charm during my interaction with Yankila Sherpa from Nepal. There were many distinguished women with great accomplishments during the conference, but she helped UVU students feel like her fellow colleagues.

Many men also came and spoke at the conference and added to what many of the women shared. The whole conference was a major success in terms of the information and the education that was given about the importance for all of us to help mountain women and mountain communities to sustain themselves and be contributors to the economic success and prosperity of their nations. Students and faculty of our school and all of UVU certainly benefitted from the appearance of all guests and speakers.

Picture2(L to R): Uday Teki, Director of Special Projects, Pioneer Park Coalition, Salt Lake City, and Danny Davis during the Conference

I personally benefited from the conference form of education that I gained through facilitation. I was able to help some of the guests around campus and provide for many of their needs. I was also able to gain so much professionally and get acquainted with so many important people and experts in gender and sustainable development issues, along with the amazing thoughts and ideas that they brought. Personally, this was the highlight of my time at UVU thus far.

Danny Davis, member of the organizing committee, Women of the Mountains Conference 

Lessons from Moderating the Heritage Panel, Women of the Mountains Conference 2015

In October 7-9, 2015, students-members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University hosted the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference, under the United Nations Mountain Partnership. It was the first time that students were given charge to organize the event and it was very exciting for us all.

I felt honored to be invited during summer 2015 to join student organizing committee and to moderate for the Heritage and Family Values Panel of the conference. Frankly speaking, as the single parent of ten children, and full-time student at UVU, at the beginning, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be effective and helpful with the activities of the conference due to my lack of the time. My conversation with other members of the committee and advisors allowed me to put aside my concerns and doubts. I am so grateful to them for their understanding support and encouragement, due to which I was able to contribute my energy, thoughts and ideas to the WOMC agenda and activities.

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(L to R ): Second raw – Dr. Cholpon Akmatalieva, Faculty Adviser for the Conference; First Raw: Carolina Allen, founder, Big Ocean Women and Megan Raines during preparations for the conference

According to my responsibilities I focused on gathering attention and possible participation at my panel from scholars, experts, women leaders in the State of Utah and beyond its borders. I spent a lot of time to send a call for papers for the conference to all interested institutions and individuals by means of social media and personal contacts. Thanks to our meetings with other student organizers and with Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary of the Conference during the months ahead of the conference I was able to learn how to work with correspondence, how to process abstracts, final papers of the participants, among other things. It was great experience for me to learn from their organizational skills, hard work, and persistence. Advising professors also dedicated time and energy to get to know the students and offer support, suggestions, and encouragement.

I was thrilled during preparatory stage for the conference to get acquainted with many prominent experts and scholars on women issues, leaders of NGOs from our state and other parts of the North America and overseas. Several NGOs, whom I was able to contact have accomplished many important projects and initiatives with focus on gender equality or other gender issues and even for example attended the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015.

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Wendy Jyang, Chairperson, Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development & Commerce, presents at the panel

During the conference meeting the panelists and becoming familiar with their fascinating life stories, and the unique experiences that they brought to share with our panel was the highlight of my involvement. As moderator of our panel on Heritage and Family Values, I introduced first to the audience Wendy Jyang, who spoke to us about her agenda as the founder of the NGO registered under the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). She shared her passion for strengthening families and honoring the roles of mothers as an inroad to eliminating poverty globally, but particularly in China. Carolina Allen, founder Big Ocean Women an organization which has also brought its agenda before the CSW59 at United Nations headquarters, followed Ms. Jyang with a philosophical explanation of the Big Ocean Women’s goals to preserve and protect motherhood and the underpinnings of maternal-eco-cultural feminist movement. Ms. Allen explained how the ocean became of a symbol to her of the quiet but persistent influence that a woman can have on her environment as she observed a wave gently, but repeatedly, wash up against a rock and begin to change its shape. Both women stressed the importance of the individual.

UVU Professor Laura Hamblin followed with an introduction to her website Iraqi Women Refugees: An Oral History Project, which offers a look into the traumatizing life experiences of Iraqi Women. Dr. Steve Emerman from UVU concluded the panel with a fascinating explanation of his studies pertaining to lichen growth on sacred Mani walls in Nepal. His presentation partly focused on the way that local men and women differed in their interpretation of how and whether or not the walls were cleaned. Professor Emerman also explained how the lichen growth helped date historical events like landslides in Nepal.

All presenters also made some suggestions and recommendations based on their presentations, which I summarized and later submitted to the secretariat in order to include to the official documents of the conference.

As the session concluded I felt excited about what we had experienced in the two hours we had together. The panelists each took us on a unique journey to a new part of the world: from China, to the beach in Hawaii, to streets of Iraq, and the mountains of Nepal.

I felt the entire conference was like that; a chance to explore the globe and an opportunity to meet new women-friends from around the world. It was also a great opportunity for us students to contribute to the noble goal of spreading word about gender and sustainable mountain development agendas of the United Nations among so many people in the state of Utah and Rocky Mountain region.

I am happy that I took the chance to be involved and look forward to the next Women of the Mountains Conference.

Megan Raines, moderator of the Panel on Heritage and Family Values, organizing committee of the WOMC2015

Celebrating International Mountain Day 2015 with Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations,

On 7 December 2015, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) had the honor and privilege to host the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, His Excellency Peter Thomson as part of the agenda to celebrate the International Mountain Day (IMD) 2015. Ambassador Thomson gave a lecture entitled “Why small-island developing states matter at the United Nations” which was attended by UVU students and faculty in addition to the local Fijian-community members. His Excellency Peter Thomson held office as Vice President of the UN General Assembly for the 2011-2012 session and currently he is the President of the Council of the International Seabed Authority for its 2015- 2016 session.

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Ambassador Peter Thomson during presentation at Utah Valley University

The Ambassador’s lecture was very enlightening and synonymous with the major goals of the UIMF to support and promote adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. VIP guest began lecture by mentioning that his visit was not the first one to Utah, but it was his first actual stay. He told a story of a Greyhound bus trip he took across the United States, ultimately using the Salt Lake City station as a transfer point back in 1969. Today, much like back in 1969, he made a point to mention that Utah is a very clean and tidy place and doesn’t have a trash-pollution problem like New York City or Washington D.C.

            He then began to hit on the main topic of his lecture, which of course we at the UIMF were very interested in hearing. As Ambassador Thomson explained, there are approximately 53 Small Island Developing States (SIDS), most of these countries belonging to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), making up 25-27% of the United Nations’ voting body. What makes them ultimately unique, and as his lecture title alludes to, is that this group of nations has come together in a united coalition to become a very powerful and impactful group which performs lobbying and negotiating functions for the SIDS within the United Nations, most notably focusing on climate change and its impact on the SIDS worldwide.

            This was why we at the UIMF were so interested in his lecture. How can we, a group advocating for implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in the mountainous regions of the world, create a similar group with the same amount of impact and respect as AOSIS? Similar to the SIDS, mountainous regions are deeply impacted by climate change, and are just as dependent on the SDGs as SIDS. The message we took from Ambassador Thomson’s lecture was the mountainous regions of the world need to unite in a unified voice of change and adherence to the SDGs to garner the same respect and impact as SIDS.

            Ambassador Thomson also briefly touched on the human migration problem facing the world. Another grim aspect of climate change, if it continues to go unabated, is that the populations on atoll-type nations will be completely flooded and displaced by approximately 4-5 feet of sea water. Fiji has set a precedent by offering all of the people on their neighboring islands a home on Fiji should climate change claim their homes. He urged the mainland nations and countries to act similarly, as coastal regions house millions more people than Small Island Developing States, and all of those people will need to migrate and resettle.

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Members of UIMF with Ambassador Thomson

Following the Ambassador’s lecture, Dr. Rusty Butler, the Associate Vice President of International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU, during special meeting introduced UIMF members to Ambassador Thomson. This was a very unique opportunity for us to inform Ambassador Thomson about our contribution to the United Nations gender and sustainable mountain development agendas and our interest to create a group similar to AOSIS, only for the mountainous regions of the world. His advice was to continue the course that we are currently on. He specifically mentioned that group voices are heard more because they are louder and if they are united. He encouraged us to continue to pursue our North/South partnerships, to make sure that we are engaging the communities living in developing mountain nations throughout the world. And finally, he shared with us two thoughts before he had to leave to another meeting. He said, “Partnership is the leadership,” and “remember it’s one planet-one people. Don’t give up.”

            Ambassador Thomson’s visit was very impactful and gave all of us in attendance a renewed sense of urgency of working together on many urgent issues including climate change. Although we all face separate issues resulting from it, we all have a common interest in stopping it before it is too late. By doing nothing, we solidify our death as a species on our planet. But, by coming together as a people to fix a problem we created only unites us and brings us closer together as nature intended.

            Ambassador Thomson’s visit to UVU was arranged thanks to the special program of hosting foreign dignitaries at UVU campus of the office of International Affairs and Diplomacy led by Dr. Rusty Butler.

Tony Medina, President, Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University

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Fiji Ambassador: small island nations matter in the climate change war

2015 INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN DAY CELEBRATION IN UTAH

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Poster of the 2015 IMD Celebration

On Friday December 4th 2015, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), students, faculty, community members and friends, gathered at the Gould Auditorium in the University of Utah’s Marriott Library to celebrate International Mountain Day (IMD). This event has been celebrated in Utah every year since 2010 as part of continual joint effort from all interested institutions and individuals to promote the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations across the state of Utah. Another important goal of that event is to raise an awareness among different communities in Utah about importance to share best examples and experiences in SMD across the state with mountain communities globally.

In general IMD celebrations coordinated by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, which is part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. Contribution to the event and its hosting on a local level in Utah was done before by a number of institutions and NGOs in the State of Utah, members of the Mountain Partnership, including Utah Valley University, City of Orem, Gruppman International Music Institute.

With this in mind and as part of the recommendations adopted in the final document of the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (October 7-9, 2015), the UIMF has collaborated with the University of Utah (UofU) to engage all interested institutions at UofU and Salt Lake City area and to host IMD 2015 at the Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium. Thus, it was the first time the event was hosted outside the campus of Utah Valley University. Support for the event was provided by a number of organizations from Greater Salt Lake area, including the Marriott Library at University of Utah, which created posters to promote the event among other activities.

The theme of this year’s event was “Promoting Mountain Products for better livelihoods” and the program included many organizations local to this mountain city that traditionally provide services for the local community. To be inclusive to the need of so many different organizations, organizers of the IMD celebration broadened the scope of the event and included Community Services as products for better livelihoods. While any discussion of mountains regions needs to include the people and services that reside there, agenda of the event included presentations from eight local groups and a keynote speaker as a highlight of the IMD 2015. Several organizations also presented their products and services on specially arranged tables to the people in the audience.

The event started with refreshments and time allowing for participants and visitors to speak with the various organizations like Onchenda Open Global Group, Edible Campus Gardens, Americorps and Norwex, the Bennion Community Service Center and Office of Sustainability at the UofU. Organizations in presence there were only a small percentage of the many groups that people can choose to become involved with to support sustainability and community goals. Some of these groups also presented that evening were able to share their goals and ideas with all those in the audience.

The formal program began with a welcome by Tony, Medina, President of UIMF and two of us, with explaining goals of the IMD2015 celebrations and reading greetings from institutions, members of MP from Utah, in North America and from overseas: the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C., International University of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic, Central Asian Institute of Applied Geosciences, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic, city of Orem, Utah, Gruppman International Music Institute, Provo, Utah and others.     To showcase some of the many young talents the local community has to offer, the evening included a musical performance by the students of Pacific Heritage Academy of Rose Park, Utah, “We are Friends.” The Pacific Heritage Academy is a public charter school authorized by the Utah State Board of Education.

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A musical performance by the students of Pacific Heritage Academy of Rose Park, Utah.

The first presentation was made by Colleen Grant Dick from Onchenda Open Global Food Cooperative. She spoke about Agriculture in the Mountains and how biodiversity and going with the flow of nature will ensure mountain communities survival and sustainability. Onchenda is a start-up social enterprise with the goal of ending world hunger by empowering local farmers, urban/suburban and rural families, would-be edible horticulturalists, and anyone else interested in growing/raising their own organic food and selling the surplus through local online food webs.

The University of Utah supported the event well, with half of the presentations being given by organizations on campus as well as student groups. The first of these groups to present was the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office. Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Marykate Glenn and Alya Hussain presentation was titled “Sustainability Office: What’s Our Product? Engagement” and they talked about the different programs of their office to promote sustainability. Some of these programs include: Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF), Student Energy Ambassadors, U of U Farmers Market and the Edible Campus Gardens. The Edible Campus Gardens teaches students how to create a sustainable food cycle by growing and then selling organic produce on campus. It is also a place where students and community members can learn about food self-sufficiency.

Next presenters, Julia Maciunas and Sam from the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a student group from the University of Utah, talked about the importance of recovering food to feed people in need. The FRN is partnered with Chartwells Dining Services, which provides food services across campus, to receive surplus food donations. The food is then donated to local food pantries in the Salt Lake Valley. Gina Cornia from Utahn’s Against Hunger (UaH) a local food policy and advocacy group spoke about the need to increase access to food through advocacy, outreach and education. Since 1981 UaH has been working to eliminate hunger in Utah.

Ryan Pleune from the Pacific Heritage Academy spoke about the school’s use of Expeditionary Learning as a teaching model as well as social studies and Pacific Islander cultures in order to teach the Utah Core Curriculum. Knowledge of one’s culture is an important aspect of sustainability as it draws on traditions of respect for the mountains, land and sea that are used by all.

Roger Crandall, Brand Ambassador for the Transit Solar Car “Elf”, shared ersonal experience of owning such car in Salt Lake City. This vehicle runs on solar, lithium batteries to power the small electric motor and peddle power. This type of transport causes zero emission, is easy to drive and presents a healthy way of driving for communities and the environment.

Jennifer Jones from the Lowell Benin Community Service Center, another organization from the University of Utah, spoke about the many ways the center involves students in the community activities, and through the partnerships with local community organizations in particular. The Center also is looking for additional organizations that would be interested in partnering with them to provide students, and the University community, different opportunities to build a better society. Sawson Gholami from the Real Food Challenge, another student group based at the University of Utah, spoke about the importance of food justice. The Real Food Challenge is tied to a national movement that aims to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms/factory foods and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources – “real food”.

The keynote presentation of the 2015 IMD celebration was made by Jason Singer Smith, professional climber, speaker and writer. He spoke about his love of the mountains and the importance of nature to our wellbeing. During the main part of his presentation Jason told the story of his abduction by militant group, part of Al-Qaeda in Central Asia, and Kyrgyzstan in particular and how he, and his partners, were able to survive as hostages, escape from captivity and how that changed him immensely. During his time in captivity he learned how trust can be an important aspect of any relationship and how this can be used to escape from potentially dangerous and life threatening situations.

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(L to R) Tony Medina, President of UIMF presents certificate to Jason Singer Smith, professional climber, speaker and writer.

The evening ended with presenting of certificates from the Mountain Partnership to individuals in the audience who contributed to the Fourth International Women of the Mountains conference in October 2015 at UVU. Overall this event was a success in engaging new institutions across the state of Utah by members of the UIMF in raising an awareness and advocacy of the sustainable mountain development agenda. As one of the outcomes, some NGOs in attendance consider the opportunity of joining the Mountain Partnership and continue working towards sustainable mountain development. Click here for more information.

 Hosts of the IMD 2015 at University of Utah: Carlos Alarco, University of Utah Liaison, at UIMF and Kamaile Tripp, Salt Lake City Liaison at UIMF

FUNDRAISER AND SILENT AUCTION BENEFITTED WOMEN OF THE MOUNTAINS CONFERENCE

The Women of the Mountains conference organizing committee held their first Fundraiser last Saturday, August 29 at the Pacific Heritage Academy (http://phlearning.org) in Rose Park, Utah. “Pacific Heritage Academy is a DBA of Pacific Heritage Schools, a Utah Not-for-profit entity and a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Pacific Heritage Schools received authorization in 2011 from the Utah State Office of Education to operate a public charter school, to be called Pacific Heritage Academy, in the Salt Lake City School District beginning in the Fall of 2012.”

Event Program

This event would not have been possible without the generous in-kind donations, sponsors and volunteers, under the leadership of Kamaile Harris, Salt Lake City Liaison for the WOMC organizing committee, who created and coordinated the event. Kamaile Harris is a community leader who promotes sustainable ways of life through networking, building coalitions and partnerships in the area of Salt Lake City. She was thrilled to be a part of the organizing committee of the WOMC by organizing the fundraising event at the Pacific Heritage Academy to contribute to both the success of the WOMC and the activities of the United Nations affiliated Mountain Partnership with focus on sustainable mountain development.

 

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(L to R): Kamaile Harris and Jennifer Starley

Great support to her was provided by Jenny Starley, PR and Fundraising for the WOMC organizing committee. The event was a great example for many UVU students of building long-term engaged learning experience through cooperation with local communities in Salt Lake City area.

There was a tremendous amount of support from local sponsors to make the event a success. Participants attempted to outbid each other at the silent auction which included over $4,000 in generous in-kind donations from local organizations, artists, individuals and sponsors. Even vegetables were donated by High Desert Produce Co. from West Valley City, Utah.

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(L to R): Lisa Shepherd, member of the organizing committee of the WOMC with Alex Azmi, Director of the Documentary “To Climb A Cold Mountain”

Upon conclusion of the reception and closing of the silent auction, the guests and participants were treated to a screening of the documentary, To Climb A Gold Mountain (http://www.goldmountainmovie.com.) The movie was generously donated and attended by the Director and Producer, Alex Azmi, from Los Angeles, California. Mr. Azmi provided a QA after the screening where participants were able to further discuss the film’s compelling subject matter of the triumphs and struggles of Asian women in the United States throughout different eras.

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Guests of the event inspect items for bidding

Participants were greeted by Genre Zero, a local music band from Rose Park, Utah. The reception included Asian Fusion vegan food samplings from Jennifer Russell-Fenus of SLCVeganista’s Kitchen. Participants enjoyed; eggless egg foo young with mushroom brown sauce, rice, vegan egg rolls and Thai tea.

The fundraiser volunteer staff; Jim Boswell, Thelma Rother and Manda Lujan are some of the best local experienced event staff in the Salt Lake area community. Hamyanie Gustafson is a Seventh grade student at Pacific Heritage Academy who also volunteered and was a great example of hard work.

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(L to R): Event Volunteers Thelma Rother and Hamyanie Gustafson serve Refreshments to the guests of the Fundraiser.

Many members of the organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference were happy to volunteer during the event, including Deann Torsak, executive secretary of the conference, Tony Medina, VP for logistics and protocol among others.

The fundraiser brought a new awareness to our guests about the critical issues faced by women and overall gender inequality living in the mountain areas in particular. The organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference concluded their successful event by announcing the funds which were raised of just over $1,200.

Genre Zero’s Band Manager and Vocalist, Joshua Isbell has given organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference permission to utilize their song, Berry Blossom, in an upcoming promotional video. The song talks of growing gardens and sharing our bounty, which is in line with Women of the Mountains values to live sustainably.

This was the first experience with fundraising benefitting gender and SMD agendas of the United Nations. Next one Kamaile and her team would like to host after the WOMC and to contribute to the efforts of Sagar Basnet, Utah Valley University student from Nepal, who helps to rebuild school in his village. They already started preparations for that and some items for bidding were already sold during fundraiser on August 29, 2015 with those goals. We wish Kamaile, Jennifer and their team success.

Stacy Medina, member of the organizing committee of the WOMC

Fundraiser for Women of the Mountains Conference

Gold-Mountain-PosterJoin us for this Women of the Mountains UVU Fundraiser. It is a preview of the subject matter we will be presenting at the conference in October.

Here is the agenda:

6 to 7 pm
Refreshments by SLC Veganista’s Kitchen
Music by Empty Set Records
Silent Auction

7 to 730 pm
School Welcome
MC Greeter
Read of Silent Auctions

730 to 830 pm
Film Screening of “To Climb a Gold Mountain” Directed by Alex Azmi and Produced by Rebecca Hu.

830 to 9 pm
Q&A with Director Alex Azmi
Announcement of Funds raised

 

Students engaged learning at Utah Valley University by hosting the International Women of the Mountains Conference

Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Dr. Rusty Butler, Dr. David Connelly

Utah Valley University (UVU) will hold the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (2015 WOMC) on October 7-9, 2015. UVU traditionally co-hosts the WOMC with the International University of Kyrgyzstan as a gathering to advocate gender and sustainable mountain development (SMD) agendas under the auspice of the Mountain Partnership (MP) under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN). MP is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. (For more information, see: http://www.mountainpartnership.org/)

One main feature of all WOMCs is their focus on raising awareness about the importance of gender and sustainable mountain development agendas of the United Nations throughout local communities in the state of Utah and the Rocky Mountains region as well as their contribution to the efforts of the MP on a global level. Another important goal of the WOMC is to continue traditions of gender advocacy established by international communities during the Celebrating Mountain Women conference in Bhutan in 2002 (part of the commemoration of the United Nations International Year of Mountains.)

WOM 2007 Poster
WOM 2007 Poster

WOM 2007 Display Poster
WOM 2007 Display Poster

The First WOMC hosted in Orem UT in 2007 gathered representatives from almost all the Rocky Mountain States and emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in contributing to gender and SMD advocacy globally. The Second WOMC hosted again in Orem, UT in 2011, continued the tradition of the previous gathering and at the same time helped to expand a network of the Mountain Partnership members in North America. As one of the results of the 2011 conference, the Mountain Partnership secretariat created a North American regional hub in Colorado State under the auspice of Aspen International Mountain Foundation and Telluride Institute.

2011 WOMC Poster
WOM 2011 Poster

WOM 2011 Display Poster
WOM 2011 Display Poster

The Third WOMC held in Puno, Peru in 2012 was the first gathering held outside of the state of Utah, implementing the decisions of the Orem Declaration of Mountain Women (the final document of the 2007 WOMC) to alternate the location of the conference between the State of Utah and mountain nations around the world.

WOM 2012 Poster
WOM 2012 Poster

WOM 2012 Display Poster
WOM 2012 Display Poster

WOMC is a grass-roots initiative which unites officials from different international organizations, led by the United Nations, the World Bank, diplomats, scholars and leaders of NGOs, educators, students and local community representatives. Their goal is to network, socialize and discuss joint initiatives and projects with a focus on engagement in global gender and SMD advocacy mountain communities from North America.What should we expect from the coming Fourth International Women of the Mountains conference on October 7-9, 2015?

Display Posters from previous conferences

This conference will be hosted for the first time by students from the State of Utah. In 2011, Utah Valley University students created the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of several student clubs with a focus on SMD promotion in their state and in the region (www.utahimf.org)They already have several achievements in that area:

  • UVU students contributed research to the Report on SMD in North America, prepared by the Mountain Partnership for the landmark United Nations RIO+20 conference in Brazil in 2012.
  • They were able to raise funds to send representative to the RIO+20 conference and to participate at the Third Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership as a side event there.
  • Two UVU student contributed to the agenda of the Fourth Global Meeting of the MP in 2013 which developed strategies for SMD advocacies by MP members in 2014-2017.
  • They advocated for the inclusion of mountain indicators among Sustainable Development Goals during sessions of several United Nations Open Working Groups in 2013-2014.
  • Since 2010, they made a tradition to commemorate the United Nations International Mountain Day on December 1.
  • Since 2011 they host an annual essay-contest on different SMD aspects among high schools in the state of Utah as a tool to foster new leaders for future SMD programs.

The student led initiative to host 2015 WOMC is based on UVU’s engaged learning approach which is “….in the spirit of the Carnegie Foundation designation, designed to help realize the two engagement categories that UVU has achieved:

  1. Curricular Engagement (Curricular Engagement describes the teaching, learning, and scholarship that engages faculty, students, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions address community identified needs, deepen students’ civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being, and enrich the scholarship of the 2015 Carnegie Elective Community;
  2. Outreach and Partnerships (Outreach and Partnerships describe two different but related approaches to community engagement. The first focuses on the application and provision of institutional resources for community use with benefits to both campus and community. The latter focuses on collaborative interactions with community and related scholarship for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge, information, and resources (research, capacity building, economic development, etc.) (http://www.uvu.edu/gel/about/index.html)

During preparations for the conference, UVU students were able to expand their coalition by including in their organizing committee community organizers from Salt Lake City, Utah County and their peers from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, among others. Many of them are learning very important skills of managing logistics, protocol, and raising funds for the conference.

The organizing committee represents students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Many of them combine a membership in the organizing committee with their university study, full-time jobs and taking care of their own families.If you are interested in supporting them or wish to contribute to the conference and be a part of supporting student’s engaged learning experience at UVU, see for more details at: http://womenofthemountains.org/index.php/2015-utah-usa.

For additional questions please contact the following members of the organizing committee:

Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary of the Conference by: dktorsak@hotmail.com;

Tony Medina, VP for Logistics and Protocol by: tony.h.medina@gmail.com;

Jennifer Starley, Press-Secretary and Fundraising by: jstarley@hotmail.com;

Yanko Dzhukev, Social Media coordinator by: dzhukev@yahoo.com;

Kamaile Harris, Salt Lake City Liaison by: kamailet@yahoo.com;

Carlos Alarco, Liaison at University of Utah by: carlos.alarco@utah.edu;

Mary Cisneros, Economic Panel Moderator by: marycisneros1womc@gmail.com;

Kiersten Palmer, Business Fair Coordinator by: KPalmer@uvu.edu;

Parker Nielsen, Head of Protocol by: nielsenparker@gmail.com;

If you are interested in receiving the weekly WOMC newsletter, please contact Gabrielle Williamson, media specialist by GabrielleW@uvu.edu;

Dr.Baktybek Abdrisaev, was Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S. and Canada (1997-2005), now Distinguished Visiting Professor of History and Political Science at Utah Valley University and an Advisor to UIMF, Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate Vice-President, International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point (coordinator) for the Mountain Partnership at UVU, and Dr. David Connelly, Chair, Department of History and Political Science, UVU, and Editor-in-Chief of the “Youth and the Mountains” journal, published by UVU.

UIMF Presents Women of the Mountains Conference at University of Utah

15-04-14-16-Apr-2015-Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deena Ainge, President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU