Tag Archives: Women of the Mountains

Assisting Dr Rusty Butler in Preparation for ECOSOC Forum

On 25 May 2016, I was able to meet at the United Nations in New York with Dr Rusty Butler, who was Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at Utah Valley University (UVU) during 1992-2016 and Director of the Utah-Russia Institute at Utah Valley University.

1   (L to R) Dzhukev and Dr Butler meet in front the UN HQ
(©UIMF/Dzhukev Y.)

Dr Rusty Butler served also as a focal point (coordinator) of the Mountain Partnership under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) at UVU during the last 10 years. He was able to transform UVU into a leading institution in North America advocating the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and advancing the gender and sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda in particular of the UN. One of his unique initiatives was to arrange visits to Utah and provide for UVU students an opportunity to host Permanent Representatives of many nations accredited to the UN. During visits, high-level foreign guests had a chance to be acquainted with the hospitality of the officials and local communities in Utah and to learn more about the model of sustainable development in Utah, one of the best SMD models in the US.

Dr Butler was recently appointed as main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). RANS was registered as a NGO with Consultative Status under ECOSOC since 2002. Dr Butler visited the UN headquarters to prepare for the Fourth High-Level Political Forum at ECOSOC on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The event will take place on 11-15 July 2016, followed by a three-day ministerial meeting of the Forum on 18-20 July 2016. The theme of the 2016 session will be ‘Ensuring that no one is left behind,’ as decided in an ECOSOC plenary session on 14 March 2016.

Dr Butler kindly invited me to dinner on May 25th to talk about my activities as the first UVU intern at the United Nations. Furthermore, he was interested to know about my contribution to the event hosted by the Permanent Missions of Italy, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi and Peru to the UN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in New York and Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS). Gathering discussed the findings of a MPS study called “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity.” It was important for him to know that the majority of mountain communities are still vulnerable to hunger and other challenges related to food insecurity.

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(L to R) Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, H.E. Moldoisaeva and Dr Butler  (©UIMF/Dzhukev Y.)

As one of the assignments, Dr Butler asked me to arrange a meeting for him with the newly appointed PR of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, H.E. Mirgul Moldoisaeva. Dr Butler has extensive connections with many officials at the Kyrgyz Republic. His wife Danielle was the Honorary Consul of the Kyrgyz Republic to the state of Utah during 2003-2011.

This was a great experience for me to learn protocol and to be able to arrange such a high-level meeting on such a short notice. However, Her Excellency Ambassador Moldoisaeva met Dr Butler in the late afternoon on 27 May.

During the meeting, the PR of the Kyrgyz Republic was impressed by Dr Butler’s background of working with many diplomats, including from her own nation and the fact that he was an Honorary Consul of Russia to Utah for 16 years. Dr Butler invited Ambassador Moldoisaeva to visit Utah on behalf of an organization called “Utah Ambassadors Hosting” to lecture at one of the universities in Utah, to meet with officials, as well as talk about the advantages of the nations that they represent and the need for establishing beneficial partnerships.

In addition, Ambassador Moldoisaeva was glad to know that UVU is the only undergraduate university in the US, which is a member of the Mountain Partnership and actively advocates SMD during last 10 years, in addition to applying the important aspect of the SDGs implementation into the undergraduate student curriculum. Ambassador Moldoisaeva stated: “Global alliances such as the Mountain Partnership allow us to create an effective global platform for poverty alleviation and food security in support of our national efforts.” She was also impressed when Dr Butler informed her that as part of the Open World Program, sponsored by the US Library of Congress, UVU has hosted seven Kyrgyz delegations of young leaders, in addition to numerous delegations from Central Asia and countries of the post-Soviet era in particular.

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(L to R) H.E. Peter Thomson, PR of Fiji to UN and his wife;  Irina Churkina, wife of H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, PR of the Russian Federation to UN; H.E. Ms Katalin Annamária Bogyay, PR of Hungary to UN and her husband (seated), Dr Rusty Butler and H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, PR of the Russian Federation to the UN (©Rusty Butler)

In addition, on the evening of 27 May, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations Her Excellency Ms Katalin Bogyay hosted an official dinner in honour of Dr Butler’s visit.  The gathering at her residence was attended by H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and his wife. Ambassador Thomson has a high chance to be elected as the President of the UN General Assembly for the 2016-2017 period. In addition, the dinner was attended by H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN and his wife. The distinguished guests, close friends of Dr Butler, gave wonderful tributes to him, his family and wonderful hospitality, provided to each of them by the people of Utah, both on official level and among the general public, students and faculty included. During the evening, the diplomats also discussed some UN agenda items, SMDs and the SDGs.

While visiting New York City, Dr Butler also spent time with David Colton, UN Representative for LDS Charities with whom Dr Butler had dinner with H.E. Mr Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, a Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations.

Before returning to Utah, Dr Butler had breakfast with the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN H.E. Kaha Imnadze whom he hopes to host again in Utah this fall for an all-Georgian art exhibit at the Springville Art Museum, possibly with the head of Georgian delegation during the session of the U.N. General Assembly as the honoured guest.

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(L to R) H.E. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN and Dr Rusty Butler  (©Rusty Butler)

Dr Butler also had a scheduled meeting with the Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations H.E. Mrs Nguyen Phuong Nga. Unfortunately, she was out of the country but her personal assistant connected with Dr Butler for a productive exchange.

Dr Butler will visit United Nations on regular basis. His continued partnerships and friendship with many Permanent Representatives accredited at the UN will provide more opportunities for engaged learning experiences for many people in Utah and the successful implementation of the SDGs, achieving Agenda 2030 of the UN, including students and faculty efforts at Utah universities.

I will be in touch with Dr Butler to make sure that his attendance of the Fourth High-Level Political Forum at ECOSOC on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on 11-15 July 2016 will be successful and he will be able to make an official statement about the importance of SMD being part of the SDGs implementation.

Yanko Dzhukev, an intern at the Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Section Department, of the United Nations. 

International Women’s Day Celebration at UVU

From March 1 – 8, 2016 the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) will sponsoring a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day at Utah Valley University.

On March 7th, 2016 the UIMF and Women of the Mountains will be hosting a special screening of “To Climb a Gold Mountain” at 6:00pm. Events will start at 5:30pm with presentation of certificates to participants of the 2015 International Women of the Mountains Conference then followed by the documentary.

All events will be held in the UVU Library auditorium, room LI 120.

International Women's Day at Utah Valley University

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

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