UIMF and UN NGOs discuss how to advocate for mountain women globally

A special round table of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) will be held at Utah Valley University on October 2, 2017. The discussion, “Joint Advocacy of the Mountain Women and Agenda at the United Nations,” will focus on the combined efforts of NGOs and UVU to promote the cause of mountain women at the UN during the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) held at the UN Headquarters March 12-23, 2018. The round table discussion will be hosted by the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU (www.utahimf.org). UIMF members have raised funds and arranged activities for the distinguished panelists as part of the engaged learning initiative.

During the event Dr. Baldomero Lago, CIO/Vice Rector for Global Engagement at UVU, will present a new UVUN Partnership initiative between UVU and the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI), which will provide UVU students a variety of great opportunities for engaged learning at the United Nations, primarily through scholarships and research.

Round table participants, Dr. Andrew Taber, executive director of the Mountain Institute (TMI), Washington, D.C., and Dr. Jed Shilling, member of the Board of Trustees of TMI, will brainstorm together with Dr. Rusty Butler, main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Mrs. Wendy Jyang, president of Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands and Development and Commerce, on how to jointly advocate during CSW62 the cause of the mountain women and the results of the international Women of the Mountains Conferences hosted by UVU since 2007. Their ultimate goal is to do one of three things: 1) make a statement during the general discussions at CSW62; 2) host a side event together with one of the mountain countries; 3) or host a parallel event together with NGOs accredited under the UN.

A student delegation representing the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Woodbury School of Business, the College of Science, and the College of Health and Public Services, along with faculty mentors, plan to present the benefits of the engaged learning model to the hosts and participants of the CSW62 in March of next year.

Matthew Rands, President, UIMF, a coalition of student clubs at UVU


Event agenda



Club Rush at Utah Valley University

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) (www.utahimf.org), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) had another opportunity to promote goals of the coalition, to recruit new members from UVU students and raise funds by participating at traditional student club rush on September 12-13, 2017. The event allowed also for the three core clubs of coalition – foreign affairs club, UIMF club and sustainable mountain development club to meet with forward thinking students and future leaders in their field alike.

In order to participate at club rush, our clubs were required to get registered by recruiting each of them at least six member and identifying their president from one of the experienced students. This year the club requirements were changed substantially with the aim to provide students with more independence and self-rule: faculty, who previously served as advisors and helped to manage many club activities including finances, now have to be in role of mentors only and allow students maximum freedom with their activities.

Matt Rands, UIMF President and Pasang Sherpa, UIMF member during the club rush

After satisfying requirements with registration and being accepted as participants of the club rush, members of our three clubs prepared necessary materials, posters, brochures etc for the gathering. As one of the advantages of the coalition, we were able to combine our tables and work with student audience as one joint team.

Within the upbeat environment and beautiful weather, our booth proved successful in drawing in students from all backgrounds and nationalities with the clubs mission statement of raising awareness and the exchange information in mountainous regions.

Club members provided exciting opportunities for students to improve themselves, as well as the world around them through coalition of clubs initiatives and activities with focus on promotion of the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in the state of Utah and globally such as hosting the international Women of the Mountains conferences or celebrating the United Nations International Mountain days at UVU. Club members made it a point to engage idle passerby’s in dialogue, invoking critical thought and analysis of pertinent issues. Aiming to target not only students in the field, but those that are not as well.

We found that it was vital to inform said students on the importance of their role accompanied with their particular skill sets, whether it be computer science or even health science, their skill sets are cherished and valued in our determined efforts to raise awareness about promotion of sustainability among mountain communities and the model of economic development in Utah as one of the good examples to emulate and share.

Club Rush at UVU

We met a plenty of old friends as well as new faces this year and it is a pleasure to present to more than thirty students who expressed interest to join our activities the opportunities UIMF as a coalition of clubs has to offer to its members. We look forward to the work ahead of us this year and into the next, all while improving ourselves and others in the world today.

Dylan Genes, member, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU

MP Coordinator for North America Meeting with UIMF

(L to R) Ms. Karinjo DeVore, Matt Rands and Mark Driggs discuss joint activities to promote mountain agenda in North America

On Saturday September 10, 2017, Matthew Rands, President of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) (www.utahimf.org), Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, UIMF Advisor and I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Karinjo Devore, President of the Aspen International Mountain Foundation (AIMF). Ms. Devore coordinates sustainable mountain development (SMD) activities across North America, South America, and the Caribbean on behalf of the United Nations Mountain Partnership (MP). In this meeting,  Ms. Devore discussed the role that AIMF plays in advocating SMD agenda of the United Nations in the entire region and the challenges being faced as it works to further the implementation of mountain targets as part of the UN post 2030 agenda of sustainable development. She was also interested in knowing the ideas of UVU students on how to improve activities of the MP, which coordinates SMD agenda globally, taking into account the coming High Level Meeting of MP in Rome, Italy on December 11-4, 2017. During the meeting,  MP members will discuss how to make the mountain agenda more visible and active at the United Nations level as well as improving implementation of mountain targets as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UIMF members and Ms. Devore brainstormed ideas of how students at UVU and the UIMF in particular could assist AIMF in advancing efforts in the state of Utah and throughout North America. Karinjo Devore has explained that some of the obstacles AIMF has faced  include limitations in funding, and the need to increase communication between various members of the MP in the North American region. As the regional coordinator for the MP, Ms. Devore has discussed existing initiatives and problems, ideas have risen from both sides, such as whether it is necessary to introduce a membership fee for institutions from around the world when joining the MP and to establish a dialogue with private corporations who could help finance sustainable development efforts. This would be an exchange for having their brand associated with certain mountain regions in order to open up new markets. One example already instituted by the MP is the placement of “Made in the Mountains” stickers on products made by different mountain nations. Ms. Devore explained that AIMF is open to constructive ideas and criticisms from any member of the MP in North America as it works to overcome these obstacles through communicating with a MP secretariat in Rome, Italy. Ms. Devore and members of UIMF had a very productive discussion on how UIMF can be a more active contributor to the  MP activities.

UIMF members expressed the desire to develop a partnership with local governments such as the City of Provo and Salt Lake City in order to explore new opportunities for SMD advocacy. In the coming months UIMF will continue to work with the MP through projects and offering new ideas to further the UN goals. These projects will promote sustainable development among mountain communities globally. Such projects include:

1) Hosting a round table of NGOs accredited under the United Nations at UVU on October 2, 2017 to discuss how to work jointly at the UN in order to make voices heard from the mountain communities and women in particular. Students informed Ms. Devore that they raised funds to bring Dr. Andrew Taber and Dr. Jed Shilling, two distinguished guests representing the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C. to Utah. They will be joined by NGOs from Utah who will develop joint action plans to advocate the mountain agenda and women cause at the UN during the next year and especially during the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018. UIMF members plan to make a presentation about student engaged learning initiatives, which has allowed them to make contribution to the promotion of the UN gender and SMD agendas as well as SGDs in part related to mountains in North America since 2007.

2) UIMF members will host for the seventh time the annual celebration of the United Nations International Mountain Day at UVU on December 11, 2017. This year it will focus on the impact on the mountain communities in Utah and globally such challenges as climate change, poverty and migration.

(L to R): Mark Driggs, Karinjo Devore, Matthew Rands and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev after the meeting

UIMF representatives expressed appreciation to Ms. Devore for the opportunity to have sat down with her and look forward to continuing partnership in order to further mutual goals of sustainable mountain development in North America. They also asked their distinguished guest to include in her report during the High Level Meeting of the MP in Rome, Italy on December 11, 2017 information about UVU student initiative of successful SMD advocacy in the state of Utah and North America through engaged learning and how it benefits students professionally.

Mark Driggs, Vice President, Utah International Mountain Forum


Mountain Partnership item news about the meeting in Utah



How I Campaigned for UVU Student Body Presidency

My journey toward being elected student body president at Utah Valley University (UVU) this past semester has been unique. As a non-traditional student, I have a wife and 10 month old little boy at home, but knew that a large majority of students here at UVU mirrored my situation and had little to no representation within UVUSA.

My current career goals are to get hired at a university with hopes that I will eventually end up in an administrative role, so when evaluating the job and networking  opportunity  that I would gain through being involved with student government, I decided this would be a good thing for my future and for my final year attending this university. When assessing the beginning stages of this campaign, I realized I was at a slight disadvantage. With a two-year LDS mission, getting married and having my first little boy, I hadn’t taken the time to become involved with UVUSA previously. I was involved with student leadership in high school and had a really good experience, I then got hired on as a UVU presidential intern with the Chief of Staff of the university for this past year and realized all of the opportunities available to students who wanted to be involved and got really excited about the aspect of running.

Campaigning with my family

I knew a few other candidates, as they were also interns and knew that they had been involved since their freshman year. I knew it would be a tough competition, but I was invested enough, I was okay with the challenge. I knew that I hadn’t been as involved previously like my opponents. I was surprised how much thought and planning went into posters and marketing, yet if I wanted to have a shot I needed a good ground game strategy. I knew that I most likely would not be getting the votes of those who were more involved and therefore, needed to reach out to students who normally didn’t vote.

When the election days came, I had shifts of friends and family at the ready to wear brightly colored shirts and encourage students to vote. I used many different tactics including coupons and cookies to encourage voting. I also tried to appeal to as many people personally as possible by noticing whether they were married with children or involved with the university in any aspect. I played basketball and danced for 15 years which allows me to relate with a wide variety of students. I also put in as much time as possible those three days.  With all of these different running strategies I believe by reaching out to students on a personal level, the word was spread that I really cared about my campaign and was willing to truly accomplish what I said I would.

One thing the international students brought up were the working conditions of being a student, yet not a citizen. They wanted me to be aware of the importance of having on campus jobs because they are unable to work at the places off campus. I want to keep that in mind as I serve throughout this next year. I want to make sure they have the resources they need to be successful and be able to support themselves while striving to get the best education possible, as well as know what direction to point them in when they have questions.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to help better my school, my community and the students and faculty of UVU this upcoming year.

 Rob Smith, President, Utah Valley University Student Body, and member, Utah International Mountain Forum 

Implementing Sustainable Development Goals Through Engaged Learning: Enactus UVU

Utah Valley University (UVU) students have so many opportunities for service and engagement even at the global level. And they can do that by sharing successful experiences in business and entrepreneurship in our mountainous state of Utah, one of the most successful in its economic development in the entire nation. One of these opportunities have taken us all the way around the world, to Africa, where we have been able to teach young girls how to start and open a new business, something otherwise unthinkable for these girls whose opportunities after finishing school are very limited.

The girls in Lusaka, Zambia, working on their business project assignments.

The area where we have been working with the girls is Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. While Zambia may be more developed that one may assume without any previous knowledge of the nation, the city they live in is a modern one. The problem is that there is a large gap of income inequality and there are many neighborhoods, which we would call slums in the US. This is precisely where the girls we teach live and in many cases, it is where they will live for the rest of their lives. Students have teamed up from all over the university, with diverse backgrounds in order to set up two businesses and prepare for two more. The ones currently set up already have promising results and exceeded profit expectations from the first day.

This team is called UVU Enactus, and it is part of a global non-profit organization created to move forward sustainable, social venture impact projects all around the globe. (See: https://www.enactusunitedstates.org). UVU is just one of hundreds of schools around the globe. Another incentive for students is the ability to compete for scholarships and prizes every year at regional, national, and world competition. UVU’s Enactus branch has only been up and running for two years but the results have been promising. This one project, however, is not the only one of its kind here at UVU. There is also an initiative to help conserve Utah’s out of control water usage which has steadily been rising while the national average has been steadily declining. Another student has created a model that can be scaled to end world hunger, another project has been helping students in wheelchairs participate in their school’s track competitions. It has been because of the innovation which is at the heart of the school and in conjunction with the support of all staff and faculty.

Beau Bennett, Karina Banks, and Josman Cereceres at the 2017 Enactus USA competition after making it to the top 12 Universities in the Nation.

Enactus has created a partnership with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, to team up and present on the sustainable mountain development (SMD) and large-scale impact projects taking into account successful experiences in those areas in the state of Utah. As a leader of the SMD club at UVU, I have made it a priority to participate not only in activism but in community building at a local and global level. By working with non-profit organizations in Utah and combining our networks, we are able to accomplish so much more than originally possible before us. The implementation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) and three mountain targets among them have been an important priority for our team, which could have the lasting impact around the world and the mountain communities who are among the poorest ones. We, UVU students have proven that just because we are students, have jobs, and are supporting families, can still make a huge difference through service and entrepreneurial projects implemented around the world among the needy communities. Not even location or finances have been considered a barrier, because of the problem-solving attitude that the team has established. We know that our student body supports us, and that we have nothing to lose, but so much to gain. As we participated in the Enactus USA national exposition in Kansas City on the week of May 21st, 2017 we felt so grateful to take part in such amazing projects and were proud to compete with like-minded people and make it among top 12 teams in the nations.

UVU Enactus along with Enactus members from BYU- Hawaii, a school we collaborate and advise with, both schools made it to the top of the ranks among top schools in the nation.

It emboldened us and provided more energy and resolve to be prepared for our participation and contribution to the agenda of the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018. We would like to share with the UNWomen and participants of the CSW62 experiences in making difference in lives of girls in Lusaka and many other initiatives, which highlight how the engaged learning approach encourages students not only to get advanced in their educations, but also to contribute to the implementation of SDGs and mountain targets worldwide.

Josman Cereceres, President, SMD club, member, Enactus


UVU students learning NGO advocacy from UN official



Utah Valley University (UVU) sponsored a visit of guest lecturer Felipe Queipo, Information Officer for the United Nations’ NGO Relations & Advocacy branch of the Department of Public Information. Mr. Queipo was visiting Utah to meet with local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and to help foster relationships between them and the UN. His activities at our school included a meeting with local NGOs and school organizations focused on NGO work, as well as a general lecture for students. Before the general lecture members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU during special meeting informed UN official about student’s engagement in the advocacy of the United Nations Sustainable Mountain Development agenda in the State of Utah and North America. The nature of his lecture then was centered around the evolution of the United Nations, their adoption of avenues to communicate directly with civil society, and how we, as students, can get involved.

Mr. Felipe Queipo before the student audience at UVU

Mr. Quiepo began his lecture by asking students for their knowledge, opinions and questions about the United Nations — he even joked, saying that he was anticipating the question, “Why is the UN so useless?” That moment, while humorous, became the focal point of Mr. Quiepo’s lecture, and the catalyst for some real revolutionary thinking.

He then went on to explain that what we commonly think of as the UN—monolithic and governmentally-run—is the General Assembly and Security Council. Delving into the deadlock faced by the Security Council, elaborating on its establishment, lack of faculties to change, and its member nations’ tumultuous back and forth over the last seventy odd years, Mr. Quiepo really got to the heart of the matter as to why public perception of the UN is one of incapability.

However, he explained, these were only organs of a much larger organization. UN official explained that new initiatives launched by other branches of the UN, including the Secretariat and ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), highlighted these exact issues and were predicated upon the idea that the best way to achieve results would be to extend beyond government interaction, to directly work with civil society. He stressed the importance of becoming active in your individual community, and using that momentum and the specialized skills of each individual and community to bring about real change around the world and how his particular department could be helpful to pursue those endeavors.

Overall, his speech was one of hope and encouragement—the perfect call to action for university students. Mr. Quiepo taught us that, no matter how small, positive forces in the world are important, and that each of our life experiences, though different, can all be positively utilized to facilitate change in the world. The encouragement, both on a personal level, and with the knowledge that the UN is increasing support and visibility for local NGOs, was truly inspiring.

David Schwartz, UVU student


Video of the UIMF members meeting with Mr. Felipe Queipo




Josman Cereceres: Engaded learning from Felipe Queipo in advocating mountain cause at the UN


Vitor Yunga: learning about humanitarian and NGO efforts at the United Nations from Felipe Queipo




Dr. Butler advocates for eradicating poverty in the mountains during ECOSOC session


On behalf of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) we would like to congratulate Dr. Rusty Butler, Main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) for making a statement during the 2017 ECOSOC Integration Segment on May 8-10, 2017 at the United Nations.  The theme of this year’s Segment was “Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?” RANS as a NGO with General Consultative Status under ECOSOC spoke on behalf of the Mountain Partnership (MP) about challenges of poverty among the mountain communities.

The statement outlines major efforts of the Mountain Partnership in eradication of poverty among the mountain communities globally and challenges which still need to be addressed.

RANS recommends joint actions of all relevant stakeholders and stresses the importance of innovative solutions and entrepreneurship for the diversification of livelihoods for local mountain communities to end poverty and hunger; mechanisms to compensate mountain people for the benefits of their actions, services, and resources provided to the lowlands; promotes the high value mountain products to help improve mountain incomes by tapping into the current demand for high quality, traditional, organic and sustainable produce. The statement also emphasizes the role of tourism in mountains, if developed sustainably, to bring benefits to the communities as well.

(R to L) Dr. Butler interacts with Mr. Felipe Queipo, Associate Information Office, Department of Public Information, United Nations

It is already the third statement at the United Nations made by Dr. Rusty Butler, and he again highlighted “… the important role which academic institutions [and Utah Valley University in particular] might play in eradicating poverty and promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Although he stressed that “since 2007, the curricular and extracurricular programs [at UVU] encourage traditional and non-traditional students to promote the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda through student experiential learning,” it is important for us to remember that it happened thanks to efforts of Dr. Butler who contributed to that process as a Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU during 1992-2016, among other faculty at UVU.

UIMF members appreciate his leadership in new capacity as main representative of RANS at the UN, which provides UVU students with great opportunities to promote the SMD UN agenda at the United Nations.

Full statement:

Yanko Dzhukev, VP of Global Affairs and Outreach, UIMF


UVU press release about RANS statement


Mountain Partnership about RANS statement





Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference


Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference

I recently attended the Model UN of the Far West Conference, which took place in San Francisco on April 21-25, 2017. The UN Charter was created in San Francisco, so the location of this conference is significant. I attended this conference with my Model UN class, and we all had the opportunity to represent the member state Kyrgyzstan.

(L to R): Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham, UVU team advisor, Alec Sorenson, Taylor Mansfield, Steven Johnson and Jon Downs

Why Kyrgyzstan? It was not a random but rather conscious choice: our school, Utah Valley University and State of Utah together with Kyrgyzstan have promoted the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations since 2006, and many of our students are involved in those activities. During the preparations to the MUN conference we decided to also advocate for the cause of the small mountain nations to which Kyrgyzstan belongs as well as State of Utah. As we know from our activities at UVU that mountain people are among the most vulnerable to such traditional challenges as poverty and underdevelopment, and almost forgotten by international institutions.  Therefore, we thought that it was an opportunity for us to raise an awareness among other participants of the conference about mountain cause. While at this conference, I had the opportunity to interact with other students, and learn more about their countries, and why they hold the beliefs that they do.

This was my first time at a Model UN conference, so I didn’t fully know what to expect. This was really a learning experience for me. We began every day at nine am, and some nights worked until eleven pm. Every committee began by doing a roll call to establish quorum, and it was important that every student show up, so we knew what the majority was. I had worked in the General Assembly committee, which had about seventy to eighty different countries in it.

My country, Kyrgyzstan, was located in the Central Asia region; we didn’t really have a lot of allies at this conference. Being from such a small country, a lot of people didn’t really even know where our country was located. Luckily, on the first day, I was able to meet up with one of the countries located in our region, Turkmenistan. From day one, I was able to form a great relationship with Turkmenistan, and we ended up sponsoring, and working on a resolution  together. Another ally that was focused on was Russia. Unfortunately, during this conference I wasn’t able to work with Russia a lot of the time.

It was really interesting to see just how well certain countries played their parts. They made sure to remind the delegates, the things were to remain civil, as the real UN is very diplomatic. I think that my committee struggled a lot with controlling their emotions, and being able to compromise. Some delegates had a harder time being diplomatic with other delegates that they knew their countries didn’t agree with. The chairs continued to make sure that everyone was acting respectfully to each other though. I agree that a lot of the time, it was hard to compromise with other delegates. Most countries don’t see eye to eye on issues, and things were especially hard when it came time to create, merge, and vote on resolutions.

Creating resolutions was one of the most important parts the conference. Luckily, leading up the conference, my class worked a lot not only on our policy statements, but on resolution writing. I feel that it made it so much easier to work with other delegates and be able to come to a compromise when we could all agree on specific wording, and the things that we really wanted to see in our resolutions. A lot of the preamble clauses and operative clauses were meant to target specific issues that our countries were facing.

In this specific conference, we were all given three topics to study and focus on. For the General Assembly, our topics were The Threat of Cyber Security in an Age of Cybercrime, Addressing Global Conflict and Security in the Context of Climate Change, and Ensuring Human Security in Conflict and Post Conflict Countries. In our committee, we were able to finish resolutions for two topics, which were Climate change, and Cybercrime. I put a lot of focus into the topic of Climate change. Climate change is a big issue in Kyrgyzstan, as their glaciers are melting, like in many other mountain nations and they have seen water shortages in part due to flawed infrastructure. Fortunately, I found a bloc that was interested in focusing on the same idea of water conservation and preservation. From there we merged with another bloc and created a resolution that we could all agree on. In the end, after a few amendments, the bill the Kyrgyzstan sponsored was one of the three bills to be passed in our committee. As a result, we were presented with Achievement Certificate for successfully presenting interests of Kyrgyzstan as one of the small mountain nations.

This allowed us to share with other conference participants our knowledge and experiences about Kyrgyzstan, starting even from the spelling of the name of the country. In addition, we also shared with them projects and initiatives which UVU students undertake with Kyrgyzstan to exchange between two mountain communities examples of economic, social, cultural and educational development.

Taylor Mansfield with Achievement Certificate for the promotion of mountainous Kyrgyzstan during the MUN conference 

In conclusion, I think that attending this conference was a great experience. I had the opportunity to meet different people, from schools across the West Coast. I enjoyed being able to learn from them and be able to compromise on certain issues. This is something that I would definitely consider attending again, and I won’t forget all that I have learned from it.

Taylor Mansfield, UVU student


United Nations Mountain Partnership about MUNFW conference




Steven Johnston: gaining professional experiences during the Model UN Conference


Jon Downs: My MUNFW experience


The Re-charter of UVU Rotaract Club


The Re-charter of UVU Rotaract Club/ Utah International Mountain Forum

 On April 29, 2017 the UVU campus hosted the Central Wasatch Rotaract Leadership training as part of the UVU Rotaract club Re-charter, a Rotary International effort to establish College level clubs in communities and Universities.  This month seven years ago, the Orem Rotary Club sponsored the Utah Valley University Rotaract club. It was a wonderful coincidence that around the same time this year a group of dedicated individuals got together and worked once again to re-establish the club on campus.

Rotary International is a global community of committed professionals working together to serve others and advance peace. More than 1.2 million members in over 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide volunteer in communities at home and abroad. The Utah Rotary District 5420 is made up of 48 Rotary clubs. Rotary clubs sponsor University and Community based Rotaract service clubs for young men and women ages 18 to 30 who are dedicated to community and international service. Its membership totals over184,000 in more than 8,000 clubs worldwide. Individual Rotary clubs sponsor Rotaract clubs and offer guidance and support, making the Rotaract clubs true “partners in service” and key members of the family of Rotary.

District Governor Shaun Michel at UVU

VIP’s of Utah Rotary District 5420 who shared their “Rotary Moments” listing years of local and international service transmitting the ideals of Rotary of “Service Above Self” included: District Governor Shaun Michel, PDG Tom Powell (instrumental in the establishment of other Rotaract clubs in the Utah District), PDG Dean Jackson, PDG Wally Brown the( “father of Rotaract” in Utah), PDG Penny Atkinson (The first woman District Governor in Utah), PDG Jerry Summerhays, DGE Bev Christy, Orem Rotary Club President Bruce Early, Incoming Utah Rotary District Youth Chair Miriam Barth, Jose Velasco Midvalley Rotaract Advisor and Midvale Rotary President, Stephanie Velasco, District Rotaract Representative and Martha Velasco, District Rotaract Chair. Also present to support the Re-charter were Salt Lake Rotaract President Colby Judd, BYU Rotaract Advisor Chantel Sloan, Midvalley Rotaract VP Ana Montes and Dixie University Rotaract Past President Jayme Pickett. They conveyed to those present how their involvement in Rotary has shaped their lives and helped them contribute to the Objectives of Rotary.

PDG Tom Powell speaks before the audience

The morning culminated with learning about Rotary; a motivational presentation that was especially designed for the Rotaractors and Rotarians; and engaging with an international Rotaract Club partner who presented a need in their community via a skype session experience with the Rotaract Clubs of Bosnia and later Piedras Negras, Mexico. The local Rotaract clubs present will support the development of the service project abroad using funds that will be matched by the international Rotaract partner and may be focused on Rotary’s six community service priorities: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Group photo after signing a charter

The UVU Rotaract Club Advisor ,Baktybek Abdrisaev , Senior Lecturer of History and Political Science and former Ambassador to the United States and Canada from 1997 to 2005, brings to this effort his global experience and expertise that supports the ideals of a Rotaractor: to volunteer locally and internationally, network and build vocational knowledge, develop leadership skills, establish a worldwide network of service-minded people, gain fellowships that last a lifetime, change lives, make peace and have fun!

Five founding members of the club have been raised or trained in the Rotary experience of “Service Above Self” participating in international projects and leadership development in Utah Rotary District 5420. Joining them are 15 students who will journey with them in becoming the tenth Rotaract club in the Rotary District and joining the ranks of the active Rotaract Clubs at Utah State University, Dixie University, Westminster College, Salt Lake Community (University of Utah), Midvalley, Roosevelt , Ogden, BYU and Southern Utah University.

Martha Velasco, Past President and Utah District 5420 Rotaract Chair


Invitation for event at UVU


UVU event program


Photos from the event




Wyatt Thompson: student learning how to be Rotarian


Aldon Trimble: global networking opportunities through UVU Rotaract Club


Jocelyn Lujan: time to joint Rotaract at UVU



UVU Students Experience with the WorldQuest Trivia Competition


On April 14, 2017, my colleagues and I got an incredible opportunity to participate in the WorldQuest Trivia Competition, hosted at the Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Seven students, including Pierre Chesnais, John Cummings, Anthony Franks, Ruben Garces, Yelyzaveta Pashehenko, Tenika Ray, and me, represented the Department of History and Political Science at Utah Valley University in this competition.  Each of the team members excelled in various subjects and topics.

Wolverine Dream Team during competition

Thanks to Professor Hong Pang’s organization and guidance, we could participate in such a fun and engaging event hosted by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Representatives from various organizations and institutions, including those from global corporations, communities and social organizations as well as students from universities/colleges (such as University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Weber State University, Westminster College, and our Utah Valley University), attended this event and competed with each other on world knowledge.  . The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the current global issues we are facing and faced in the past.

The competition is to test the knowledge of the participants on the following topics:

         Global Megacities

         Women in Technology

         Peace & Conflict

         EU (European Union)

         Combating Infectious Diseases

         Current Events

Wolverine Dream Team with Professor Hong Pang

Personally I learned a lot from this Trivia Competition.  For example, global megacities are severely overpopulated and have created numerous problems to the communities. These problems includes water crisis, infrastructures crisis, unemployment, under-education, land pollution, land and waste management.  These problems are becoming serious issues to the people who live in the megacities. Each megacity contains at least 10 million people. This number is bigger than that of some small countries in Europe and Asia. The second round of questions about Women in Tech provided me eye-opening information that many successful companies exclusively rely on the women power. The third round of questions is about Peace and Conflict, another challenging topic. But our team began to roar with a stronger performance this round. We did even better in the fourth round on European Union because we had Pierre Chesnais, who comes from France and successfully nailed 8 out of 10 questions.

While we had a plain performance in the first 3 rounds getting the score of 14 out of 30, our team had a comeback in the later rounds, such as those on Current Events, Peace and Conflict, European Union, and Current Events. Although we failed to win any prize, our team tried our very best, had a lot of fun working together, and learned a lot about the world.

It was an enlightening opportunity for us to broaden our horizon of knowledge. Our engaged learning evening ended with a lot of laughter and good memories. Thanks to Professor Hong Pang and my colleagues, I have gained a good memory and experiential learning in my own way.

Munkhbat Batmunkh, member of Wolverine Dream Team


Tenika Ray: Experiential Learning Through  WorldQuest Trivia


Anthony Franks: WorldQuest Trivia Night


Ruben Garces: my participation in WorldTrivia contest


A Coalition of UVU Clubs