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UVU Student Experiential Learning by Hosting Ambassador Eileen Malloy



UVU Student Experiential Learning by Hosting Ambassador Eileen Malloy

Utah Valley University students hosted Ambassador Eileen Malloy on March, 6, 2017.  Ambassador Malloy is an experienced professional of the U.S. Foreign Service. Working for several decades, Ambassador Malloy has served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic (1994-97). She has also held numerous positions in the State Department, Australia, Turkmenistan, and the Soviet Union.

Matt Rands Introduces Ambassador Malloy to the Student Audience at UVU

Students ran everything related to her visit as part of the experiential learning initiative at UVU which provides student learning through hands-on experiences. Those involved, worked under the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student-led clubs at UVU ( Many members of UIMF are non-traditional students, who combine education with the need to work part or full time and take care of families. From planning this event to its execution, students were the critical force in successfully fulfilling the coordination and protocol needs of the event.

Months before the visit of Ambassador Malloy students busily discussed and planned in fine detail her visit. UIMF Leadership laid out a framework of tasks that needed to be done and shared it with members of the clubs. The key role of leadership was not to direct or micromanage each task, but rather to inspire members to become leaders themselves and take initiative while remaining flexible to changes. With this idea, the tasks were dived up with students given the ability to do the task themselves or coordinate with other students to accomplish their given task.

The key to leadership is that the head of an organization can share his vision to influence his/her peers to see what is desired and work out any flaws. UIMF leadership gives all students the opportunity to feel that they have a part in the event.

Directing the operation, I networked with various UVU organizations and departments to fulfill the logistical and financial demands. I learned to coordinate placing the UVU Center for Multicultural Studies in charge of hosting a luncheon for her. I contacted the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to help fund a gift for the guest. In addition, the UVU Department of History and Political Science, as well as the Peace and Justice Studies, were contacted and they willingly contributed to the event as well.

Ambassador Malloy During the Meeting with Students at UVU

Agenda of the visit of Ambassador Malloy included a round-table-meeting with students titled: “Conversation on Foreign Service and Diplomacy.” During the meeting, Ambassador Malloy spoke briefly about her experiences in the Foreign Service followed by a Q&A. Students asked a variety of questions on subjects ranging from what skills are in demand for the State Department to how will families cope with traveling with the Foreign Service. At the end, she informed students that the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training has a program where interns can help preserve the oral history or previous ambassadors (

A great interest our guest had in Russian art gave us the idea to book a tour at the Springville Museum of Art in Utah which had a large display of Russian art (  Through careful planning, we were able to have the Director of the museum, Dr. Rita R. Wright, to give a personal tour of the Russian Exhibit. Here Ambassador Malloy showed her expertise in Russian art showing which art was most likely propaganda and which pieces were probably risky realism paintings that the state did not authorize. The meeting between Dr. Wright and Ambassador Malloy and the discussing of possible ways they could help each other, confirmed that we UVU students were able to set up positive building experiences for the community.

UIMF leadership with Ambassador Malloy

A few other examples of leadership coordination among students, UIMF members  include:

Spencer Nilsson was placed in charge of the organization of the room where VIP guest would give her presentation. Spencer acquired microphones from the library and coordinated with other students to bring the backdrop, table, pamphlets, etc.

Regan Warner contacted the Women’s Success Center at UVU to give a special welcome to Eileen Malloy at the International Women’s Day activity. Here Dr. Anne R. Waipero, the Director of the Women’s Success Center greeted our distinguished guest and showed Ambassador Malloy the humanitarian efforts in girl’s hygiene the center held that day for the world-known NGO Days for Girls.Josman Cereceres is a representative of the UVU Student Association and coordinated a tour for the guest and coordinated with the UVU greenhouse manager to give her a tour of the greenhouse, an area many do not have the opportunity to visit.

Josman Cereceres is a representative of the UVU Student Association and coordinated a tour for the guest and coordinated with the UVU greenhouse manager to give her a tour of the greenhouse, an area many do not have the opportunity to visit.

Many more students have contributed to a successful visit of Ambassador Malloy. Her visit helped us as students learn more about what leadership and networking skills are. These skills are also essential in the political field. Thus, the activities of the UIMF better prepare students for a career in leadership and public service.

Matthew Rands, President, Foreign Affairs Club




Agenda Final


Task List


UVU Press Release


Photos of Ambassador Malloy Visit to UVU




Josman Cereceres: The Honorable Eileen Malloy Prepares UVU Students for Foreign Service


Mark Driggs: National Security Club Contributes to Hosting Ambassador Malloy


Aaron Holloway: My Contribution to Hosting Ambassador Eileen Malloy at UVU



UVU Students Will Attend 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Representatives of the Utah International Mountain Forum have the privilege of attending the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) of the United Nation in New York in March, during spring break. Five student representatives of UIMF will have the opportunity to raise awareness and promote the work students have done in the past. This year marks ten years since the first Women of the Mountains Conference was hosted at Utah Valley University. The UIMF has made major contributions to transform these conferences into major grass-roots forums in North America on promotion of sustainable mountain development and gender agendas of the United Nations and the UVU student clubs coalition looks forward to sharing those experiences at the United Nations.

Tony Medina during 60 CSW in
New York in March 2016 

Students plan both to share their contributions to the promotion of the mountain targets among UN SDGs and SDG#5 on gender in particular, and to learn how deepen their understanding and knowledge of the CSW and how the UIMF’s contributions fit into the UNWomen Agenda. The visit will be a follow up to the 2016 60th CSW, where President UIMF Tony Medina attended and led the UVU delegation.

The UIMF visit was made possible by the ELLA Grant and GEL Grant provided by UVU

Christian Jensen, President, UIMF


Handout about the event with UIMF presentation on March 14, 2017


UIMF statement during the event on March 14, 2017


Talking points for delegation members


Power point for presentation during the event on March 14, 2017


Letter from Dr. Rusty Butler to CSW61 participants


UIMF brochure for distribution at CSW61


UVU press-release about UIMF participation at CSW61


Agenda for UIMF visit at CSW61


UIMF Discussed Mountain Targets and SDGs with PR of Kenya to the UN, Ambassador Macharia Kamau

UIMF Discussed Mountain Targets and SDG’s with PR of Kenya to the UN, Ambassador Macharia Kamau

Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, Ambassador Macharia Kamau visited UVU and lectured before the UVU faculty and students on the theme: “United Nations Post 2030 Development Agenda” on February, 9, 2017.  Ambassador Kamau, in addition to many other roles, was the co-chair on the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.  Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, had the opportunity to host the Ambassador for a special session with a Q&A roundtable prior to his general lecture. In addition, we were fortunate enough to have former members of the UIMF who graduated in 2015 in attendance.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau during
session with UIMF members

Prior to Ambassador Kamau’s remarks, Danny Davis, moderator of the session, introduced participants to the distinguished guest and in particular Tony Medina, President of UIMF (2014-2016), who addressed the VIP guest on how the UIMF has been working toward the mountain targets as part of the SDGs set by the UN, particularly in regards to gender since 2007.

Christian Jensen, UIMF President, shared with Ambassador Kamau the United Nations recognition of the UIMF’s efforts in hosting the Fourth International Women of the Mountains (WOM) conference under the umbrella of the FAO-UN in Orem in October of 2015. For the first time ever, such a high level United Nations forum was hosted through efforts of the students only, as part of the experiential model of student learning. This conference was gathered as a follow up event to the historic UN sustainable development summit in New York, which adopted the SDGs as a roadmap for human development in 2015. Christian emphasized that the WOM conference has been hosted since 2007 as a grass roots forum to promote gender and the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in North America.

Munkhbat Batmunkh, Vice President of UIMF, then shared how the UIMF coalition of clubs was featured in the 2016 United Nations Secretary General’s report on sustainable mountain development (SMD). UVU is the only university in North America which was mentioned in that United Nations document. The WOM conference in October 2015 addressed the critical issues faced by women and children living in mountainous regions across the globe and provided a forum to discuss gender issues. The report highlighted the UIMFs contributions to SDGs 5, 6, and 15, and their promotion.

As Vice President, SMD club, I was honored to thank Ambassador Kamau, as a co-chair of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs, for giving an opportunity to UVU student Jesler Molina to speak during the session of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs on December 11th 2013. The Ambassador was pleased to be reminded by that important fact of working together with UVU students during the adoption of mountain targets among SDGs. He was warmly greeted by Jesler Molina, President UIMF (2013-2014) who was also in the audience during the session.


Jesler Molina, and Ambassador Macharia Kamau during
Session of the UN Open Working Group
on SDGs in 2013

Jesler Molina and Ambassador
Macharia Kamauat UVU in 2017

In addition to these accomplishments the UIMF shared with the Ambassador Kamau, Tony Medina informed the VIP guest, that he, Christian Jensen, Munkhbat Batmunkh, and myself will be attending the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this March. This will be an excellent opportunity to promote the work of the UIMF and its implementation of SDG#5 focusing on gender issues and mountain targets in particular, at the CSW61, and engage in the discussions and presentations taking place there. While there, Ambassador Kamau has extended an invitation for these students to meet at the Kenyan Embassy to further discuss the post 2030 development agenda.

Group photo of Ambassador Kamau,
and his wife, with the leadership
members of UIMF, and faculty

In his response, Ambassador Kamau focused on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the importance of the goals that have been set for the next generation. He expressed appreciation to UIMF students for active involvement with the SDGs adoption and said that what was done at UVU gives him satisfaction, that the hard work of the OWG team was worth it. After the millennial development goals of 2015 were accomplished, the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals set a new agreement as a successor. The new goals were to be a global framework rather than focused only in developing countries. This is due to a growth in population, technological advancements, economic prosperity coupled with income disparity, gender inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and global security challenges. With that being said, finding a sustainable path for closing the gap between the rich and the poor, the developed and underdeveloped is the priority of the 2030 Agenda. After three years of negotiations, the 2030 Agenda was adopted, in an unprecedented multilateral effort. The agenda consists of 17 sustainable development goals and 169 targets to be met by 2030. And there are three mountain targets among them, for which UIMF and UVU made so many efforts in order to be adopted since 2013.

The Sustainable Development Goals

During the Q&A session, Ambassador Kamau encouraged participants to use the resources they have living in this century to reach out to students all around the world to work in partnership to reach their collective goals and promote the SDGs. Following which, questions of how these goals could be achieved even in times of political turmoil were posed and answered. Ambassador Kamau responded with the powerful words, “no matter who is in power, and what their agenda is, as long as the people stay engaged, our institutions continue to work towards good, and if history’s positive momentum stays behind us we can continue to point in the right direction despite political waves.” With that being said, the success of the SDGs is dependent upon partnership and sacrifices made by every government, international and regional institution, and every person. By doing this the world can be a safe, clean, sustainably joyful place for generations to come.

It was a very important and meaningful meeting with such a distinguished UN official which benefitted both sides and provided UIMF members with new experiences and energy in order to continue implementation of the post 2030 development agenda and mountain targets in particular.

Regan Warner, Vice President of the Sustainable Mountain Development Club.


Memo: Meeting With Permenant Representative of Kenya to the UN, Ambassador Macharia Kamau


Talking Points With Ambassador Macharia Kamau


Task List for the Visit of Ambassador Macharia Kamau


Photos From The Meeting With Ambassador Macharia Kamau


Video of UIMF Meeting with Ambassador Macharia Kamau


Video of Presentation of Ambassador Macharia Kamau




Christian Jensen: Sustainable Mountain Development and the World

Aaron Holloway: My Life and Sustainable Development

Abdullah Alahmadi: Ambassador Macharia Kamau Public Lecture at UVU

Abdulmajeed Alahmadi: Ambassador Macharia Kamau About Post 2030 Development Agenda

Mark Driggs: Impact of the Mountain Targets and SDGs on National Security

Regan Warner Why I am Advocating Sustainable Mountain development

Matthew James: non-traditional student involvement in sustainable development 


UIMF Will Discuss Mountain Targets and SDGs with PR of Kenya to the UN, Ambassador Macharia Kamau



Kenya Lecture poster


UIMF Will Discuss Mountain Targets and SDGs with PR of Kenya to the UN, Ambassador Macharia Kamau


Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, Ambassador Macharia Kamau will speak before UVU students and faculty on the topic “United Nations Post 2030 Development Agenda” on February 9, 2017 at 11:30am.  The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) has the special privilege of hosting and discussing the contribution of UVU students to the post 2030 development agenda with Ambassador Macharia Kamau during separate meeting before the main presentation. The Ambassador Macharia Kamau played a key role in adopting the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs) as a co-chair of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs and currently he contributes to the UN efforts with the implementation of the UN post 2030 development agenda.


This is not the first encounter the UIMF has had with the Ambassador Macharia Kamau. UVU student Jesler Molina was given the opportunity to speak during the session of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs on December 11th 2013.

   sdg2UVU student Jesler Molina speaks during the session of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs on December 11th 2013;


(L to R): Co-Chairs of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs: PR of Hungary to the UN Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi and PR of Kenya to the UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau.

UIMF members now have another chance to talk to Ambassador Macharia Kamau and report how they were able to contribute to the adoption of mountain targets among SDGs. They will also inform the VIP guest about the 4th international Women of the Mountains conference hosted in October 2015 as a grass roots forum to promote gender and the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in North America.


Christian Jensen V, President UIMF


International Mountain Day Builds Friendship between Families in Utah and Pakistan

When I started at Utah Valley University (UVU), I intended to get in and get out as fast as I could. Keeping my head down, not get involved in anything because as a mother of four and the manager and owner of a small business here in Utah, I did not have time for anything extra. Little did I know what my future would hold. Early in my junior year, my peers from Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU asked me to get involved with extra-curricular activities, like an international conference in 2015 and I instantly said “no.” Eventually, I said I could help a little and then I was put in charge of cultural events during the conference. I had almost completed that task when I was asked to take over the Education panel. I spent maybe a week trying to get the panel in order when I was informed by the UIMF leaders that I was being promoted to executive secretary of the conference. The prospect of this frightened me deeply. Unsure how I would balance everything, I still charged full steam ahead.

It was because of this one event, that my life has forever been impacted. I met ambassadors from all over the world, became friends with the international NGOs, like Days for Girls CEO Celeste Mergens, among others and most importantly now have two Pakistani daughters.

During the conference, titled “Women of the Mountains” our family housed Noorani Barkat, who at the time was in Texas working on her Masters in Agriculture.  She submitted a paper regarding the Education of Women in Pakistan. Together, with the help of my colleague Tony Medina, who was in charge of the logistics and protocol during the conference, we were able to get her to Utah: Tony paid from his own pocket for her air travel from Texas to Utah and I hosted Noorani with my family. We had many deep discussions about culture, traditions and even religion. It was much to both our and her surprise that we found we had more in common than we thought regarding religion (we being Latter Day Saints and she being Muslim). We taught her to make American pizza from scratch (we got Turkey pepperoni) and she taught our youngest son how to cook authentic Pakistani chicken korahi from scratch.

Fast forward six months, and the UIMF team started to plan for the 2016 International Mountain Day on December 2nd 2016. It was dedicated to the cultural exchanges between mountain communities to promote sustainable mountain development agenda around the world. I remembered the film submission about Kalash tribe in Pakistan of Ms. Mehak Asad for the conference, whom we were unable to bring in 2015 due to limited funds. I discussed with other UIMF members the possibility of bringing her to Utah to present the film, very appropriate for the celebration. After the approval of the idea, I immediately reached out to Mehak. Within seconds she responded and was on board.  With a generous donation from Dr. Michelle Taylor’s office at UVU, we were able to bring Mehak to Utah. Again, our family hosted an international guest. As with Noorani, a great cultural exchange took place.

Our 10-year-old daughter Judy and I went to Salt Lake International airport to pick up Mehak. It was funny, when we stepped into a store to get something to drink, Mehak walked right past us. I said to my daughter “I am pretty sure that is her, we should go find her.” Judy wasn’t so sure, but away we went to find Mehak. She almost bumped into us, when I said “Mehak?” Of course, it was her, and it was an automatic connection. On the way home, she mentioned how she was expecting something much different. Upon further discussion, several days later, we learned that in Pakistan, the media portrays the United States in such a light that many think that we are all very ill-mannered individuals, and she was thankful that we were nothing like how the Pakistani media portrayed Americans. It was an interesting discussion as we talked about how the American media tend to portray Pakistan in an ill-mannered fashion as well.

Mehak came early to experience an American Thanksgiving. It was her first time eating turkey, and she had her fill! She was able to experience a bit of Christmas as well. She loved the lights and symbols. Mehak even helped our family decorate the Christmas tree and our house!


Left Photo: Mehak and Judy Torsak in traditional Pakistani dress; Right Photo: Modeling traditional clothing; Provo, Utah: (L to R)   Handen Torsak, Mehak Asad, and Brayten Torsak

 Mehak had prepared to bring traditional Pakistani clothing for the entire our family. The clothing Judy is wearing, Mehak’s mother made especially for her. She was so excited that the dress was made special for her. Two of our boys Handen and Brayten were happy to model their Pakistani clothing as well.


Mehak (in yellow dress) with the majority of the Torsak extended family at the Salt Lake City, Utah

For Thanksgiving, many of my husband Kenneth’s family came to celebrate. As part of that celebration all of us went to Salt Lake City to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square. We toured around the city enjoying the sights as well as the Church (LDS) History Museum and the world-famous Tabernacle. Mehak is now officially part of the Torsak family, and she wanted a family picture! She tracked someone down to take a family picture.


Mehak has fun with Judy Torsak and her classmates at Lakeview Elementary School in Provo, UT

Mehak went to school with Judy and experienced 5th grade in Utah……In Portuguese. Mehak joked that she didn’t understand a thing because it was in Portuguese but she loved how interested the kids were, and how fun it was to share her culture with them.


Mehak was happy to find a Pakistani Market in Salt Lake City, Utah

She was going to cook for us, but wanted a very particular kind of rice. We drove to Salt Lake City to look in the Asian markets there, we didn’t find what she was looking for, but as we drove home we drove past an “Indian/Pakistani” market and she screamed….”Mommy there was a Pakistani market, turn around” Scared me when she screamed but man the market was so awesome!!!


Women of the Mountains: Deann Torsak and Mehak Asad in Provo, Utah

On Thanksgiving morning, Mehak and I took a drive around Utah Lake. She decided that we should wear Pakistani clothing. She was impressed at how beautiful the lake was and the snow-capped mountains.

There really is no good way to appropriately articulate the experiences Utah Valley University has afforded me. I will be always grateful for that. It is a unique place that allows students to learn from books and professors as well as world class hands-on experiences, and UVU is truly an institution of engaged learning.

Both Noorani and Mehak call me mommy, and they forever hold a special place in our family!

Deann Torsak, executive secretary of the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference


Programme for Webinar on Engaging Youth to Implement Agenda 2030

unaNGO Branch Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

7 December 2016, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Moderator of the Session: Marc-Andre Dorel, Acting Chief, NGO Branch, OESC/DESA

Introduction and General Presentation of DESA NGO Branch: 11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.

by Marc-Andre Dorel, Acting Chief,
NGO Branch,
Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, UN DESA

Youth Engagement at the UN : 11:10 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Overview of Youth Engagement in the work of the UN
by Saskia Schellekens, Special Adviser,
Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Involving Youth in UN work on Social Policy and Development
by Elizabeth Niland, Social Affairs Officer,
Division for Social Policy and Development, UN DESA

The Major Group for Children and Youth and its contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Agenda by Aashish Khullar, Organizing Partner,
United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth

The 2017 ECOSOC Youth Forum
by Leslie Wade, Chief,
ECOSOC and Interorganizational Cooperation Branch,
Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, UN DESA

Applying for ECOSOC Consultative Status: 11:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

by Diego Rumiany, Programme Officer,
NGO Branch,
Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, UN DESA

Questions & Answers: 12:10 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Celebrating International Mountain Day 2016 Through Experiential Learning

The Utah International Mountain Forum, A Coalition of Student Clubs at UVU Celebrated the 6th International Mountain Day  by Hosting the Following Events During the Fall Semester 2016

  1. “Building Cultural Bridges Between Mountainous Georgia and Utah,” Sept 15, 2016

2. “Rotary International Learning Cultures to Build Ties with Mountain Nations,” Nov 16, 2016

3. “Presentation of the Documentary “Daughter of Kalash” at University of Utah,” Nov 29, 2016

4. The Main Event “Celebrating International Mountain Day 2016 Through Experiential Learning,” Dec 2, 2016


The Main Event








Dr. Kabamba’s PowerPoint

Certificate to Dr. Kabamba


Mehak Asad’s Documentary Film



IMD Celebration Photos


Task List IMD 2016


Mountain Partnership Photo Gallery


Celebrating International Mountain Day 2016
Through Experiential Learning


When I first joined the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), my first event that I was directly involved in the planning and preparations was the International Mountain Day (IMD) celebration of 2014. Now, as I prepare to graduate UVU, one of the last events I have helped organize is IMD 2016. It seems fitting, and somewhat natural to finish where I started—able to look back and see much I, and my team, have developed professionally.

We, at UVU, have celebrated IMD every year since 2010 as a special forum to promote the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations. In addition to gaining professional skills, experiences on an international level, we regular meet with many dignitaries from Utah, North America, and overseas who are invited as keynote presenters. We do this in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution, “International Year of Mountains, 2002,” which encourages the international community to come together on 11 December under the name United Nations International Mountain Day (IMD). Events are planned at all levels to highlight the importance of the SMD agenda.

The IMD 2016 is a continued example of the experiential, or problem-based learning (PBL) initiative at UVU, where students acquire new knowledge and professional skills through practical activities with a focus on the promotion of the SMD agenda. PBL requires students to work on specific, practical issues through group efforts, while faculty serve as advisors allowing students to do the maximum amount of tasks on their own, and only interfere if it is necessary. The UIMF, since its creation in 2011 as a coalition of student clubs, has fit well in implementing the PBL approach.

Using PBL as our guide, work on IMD 2016 began around the middle of July when my colleagues and I, most notably Deann Torsak, President of Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU, had put together some ideas of who and what we would like plan for this event. Eventually, we decided to follow-up on a contact made while preparing for the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) at UVU which took place October 7-9, 2015. One particular contact was a young woman named Mehak Asad, a video-producer from Pakistan, who had just recently earned her Master’s degree from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. She had expressed an interest in presenting at our conference, but could not find the funds to make it out to Utah. At the time, we had to part ways, but we expressed our interest in trying to bring her out to UVU in the future.

Deann reached out to her, to see if she was still interested in presenting at UVU as part of the 2016 IMD celebration. As it turned out, she was, and had recently completed work on the documentary film “Daughter of Kalash,” a story about the Kalash tribe, which lives in the remote mountain areas of northern Pakistan. It was a perfect match to the United Nations selected main theme for the IMD 2016: “Mountain cultures: celebrating diversity and strengthening identity.” Arrangements were made to have her to Skype in as a key note presenter. This was a fairly similar approach to another UIMF-PBL initiative – to host International Women’s Day celebration of 2016 at UVU, where we invited Dr. Alex Azmi of UCLA to screen his documentary film “To climb a gold mountain” about Chinese women during the Chinese exclusion act in the nineteenth century. We screened the film as a follow up to the WOMC, where Dr. Azmi supported UVU students and screened his documentary in Salt Lake City in August 2015 as a major feature for the students fundraising campaign for the conference. This approach of experiential learning has proven true for UIMF members over the last five years, with increasing success with more, and better advertising.

During our regular weekly meeting with UIMF advisor Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, we discussed the plans for upcoming IMD. Then the idea came up of actually flying Mehak out to Utah. Deann later asked Mehak if she would be interested in flying to the United States to make the presentation of her film. The response we received was, “There is no way I could say no to an opportunity like this.” With Mehak on board, the next task was finding the funds to cover her flight. Due to the fact that it was the summer semester, we sent out several “feeler” emails to gauge interest from several friends of the UIMF on campus and among the local community.

Within a week, we had secured the cost of the travel from, Dr. Michelle Taylor, UVU Vice President of Student Affairs, who also contributed funds to the WOMC in 2015. She was excited to hear of the new event happening, and again through student initiative. Later, Deann and I met with Andre Jones, a member of the organizing committee of the WOMC, and his friend Nick Varney, who was enrolled in a class of the UIMF advisor, Dr. Abdrisaev and was aware of the UIMF activities. Both of them are currently a part of UVU Student Government and they offered assistance in a number of ways, including: recruiting help, advertising to students, and offering tables at UVU sponsored events.

With the finances arranged and UIMF members ready to help out, the complex task of securing Mehak a travel visa from the United States Department of State became a daunting and mountainous task. The issues facing us originated from the challenging situation in Pakistan regarding terrorism. We assumed a result to this was possible strict rules, and special attention and scrutiny of our candidate from the Consular officers at the US Embassy in Pakistan. We had an experience during the WOMC in 2015 when several women from overseas, whom we invited to the conference, were not able to get visas for reasons similar to this. Fortunately, UIMF members, and the Foreign Affairs club in particular, had already accumulated enough professional experiences in handling visa issues and protocol. Additionally, in the event that we still had questions, we were able to contact our colleague, Parker Nielsen who had handled protocol and visa issues during the WOMC. At the time, he was working and saving money for enrollment in classes for the spring semester of 2017 as a financial aid counselor at UVU, and was not able to help as much as he would have liked. UIMF members were able to strengthen their previous experiences, in logistics/protocol, and working with bureaucracies on many levels.

To begin the visa process, we prepared a letter of invitation for Mehak, which we would send through Dr. Baldomero Lago, the new director of the UVU office of International Affairs and Diplomacy, who is officially responsible for this type of activity and correspondence at UVU. Again, due to the summer semester, and the need for us to build relationships with a new official at UVU, it took Dr. Baldomero several days to look at our letter. Once we had the invitation letter in hand, we learned of the necessity to tackle the issue from a “two-pronged” approach. First, we needed to send the letter to Pakistan, both by e-mail and “snail” mail while Mehak began the process of applying for a visa on her end. After some research, and consultations with our advisors regarding which type of visa to apply for, Mehak was granted an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Due to the distance, it wasn’t until the 24th of September that our team was informed that her visa had been approved. The celebration in our office didn’t last long, as the moment for UIMF leadership to begin work on the specific details of her trip, including the booking of the travel, and to set up the event, began immediately. As part of the tradition, UIMF members also make personal contributions to each event in addition to their time and efforts. To illustrate this, Deann Torsak suggested that she would host our guest from Pakistan at her home, just as she had done during the WOMC when she accommodated another woman from Pakistan that built close ties and a lasting friendship. Her big family, consisting of four children in addition to her husband, were thrilled to get together with guests from a different continent, who represented the Muslim culture.

We then started to gather our members and involved more than 20 students who were interested to volunteering for the event in December and contributed their time and efforts in order to create digital media advertisements, an event poster, and began working on the rest of the activities for the event. To that end, we reached out to Dr. Patience Kabamba, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UVU. He had recently conducted research and put together a presentation of the ethnographic field work in the mountain areas of Congo. His presentation was titled “Mountains are not only geography, but also culture!” This was a perfect fit to the IMD theme for 2016. Dr. Kabamba also involved Jacques Baraketse and Sam Kabwika, two of his UVU students from Congo as his co-presenters.

The majority of October was dedicated to other tasks with a focus on the promotion of the SMD agenda. Another group of UIMF members in parallel hosted a second event contributing to the IMD 2016 in a similar PBL-model (see more about the Round Table with Rotary International members in the State of Utah: ). However, once November came around, we began to recruit more student volunteers to assist in the event and in particular those enrolled in classes of the Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, advisor for the UIMF. They volunteered for a variety of tasks relating to protocol, logistics, media contacts, and others. Many of them needed to be accomplished weeks before hand, while several others didn’t need to be completed until the day of. While we usually have weekly gatherings of the UIMF members to coordinate preparation activities, because of the fact that majority of our students are non-traditional who combine their classes with jobs, we needed to stay in contact with each other by email. Nevertheless, coordinating the massive amount of support we received from fellow students became a colossal task—especially as the Thanksgiving break threw everything off by a week.

Things began with a little bit of a hiccup, as I was invited to a promotion interview with my employer which was scheduled during the time of the event. I asked Christian Jensen, the President of the Foreign Affairs club, to stand in for the event, and he did a wonderful job together with his deputy, Muhnbat “Mugi” Batmunkh. He began by reading a statement of greetings from the F.A.O. UN to the UIMF in recognition of its celebration of IMD 2016. Additionally, Christian informed the audience about the major successes and contribution from the UIMF to the promotion of the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations covering the entire year of 2016. He also handed out certificates of appreciation and participation in IMD 2016 from the FAO-UN to both the presenters and student volunteers of the event. Warren Cass, a member of the UIMF, was there to video document the events as they happened, as Gary Crofts, a student of Dr. Abdrisaev’s, took photographs of the event for the website. Kiersten Dumas, a member of the Sustainable Mountain Club, was there to lend assistance where needed, and Deann Torsak, President of the Sustainable Mountain Club, escorted Ms. Asad to campus for her presentation. The event gathered a crowd of about forty-five students in the auditorium of UVU’s new Classroom Building. Amy Barnett, assistant to Dr. Baldomero and longtime friend of the UIMF was very pleased both at the level of attendance and involvement of the students. Problem based learning has, once again, served the UIMF well in both helping students, and the local community to be aware off and contribute to the sustainable development of the mountain communities worldwide.

While it goes without saying, the IMD 2016 event could not have happened in all of its success without the help and dedication of many people throughout UVU and the state of Utah. Much like the theme of IMD 2016, Utah and the surrounding communities have a strong tradition of coming together to accomplish goals and tasks for the betterment of everyone. While this may be the last International Mountain Day I help plan and organize as the president of the UIMF, it is my hope to be continually involved well past my time at UVU. There is a sense or professionalism that accompanies this organization that many students do not experience until well in to graduate school. All of which could not have been realized without the help of great people with a sense of community in the Rocky Mountain region, and the mountainous regions across the planet as a whole.

Tony Medina, President, Utah International Mountain Forum.

International Mountain Day Builds Friendship between Families in Utah and Pakistan




Stella Parwin Przybyla, and Megan Raines: UVU Students Build Cultural Bridges with Kalash People

Spencer Monson: 6th Annual Celebration of the International             Mountain Day at UVU

Christine Behle: Connecting Mountain Cultures during the 2016 International Mountain Day Commemoration

Ellen Dekker: My Analysis of the International Mountain Day

Tenika Ray: My First International Mountain Day

Tito A Momen: International Mountain Day 2016 Promotes Mountain Cultures

Rachel Critchfield: Taking Part at the International Mountain Day at UVU

Brady Dow: International Mountain Day at Utah Valley University

Kiersten Dumas: Learning About Mountain Cultures during IMD 2016

Daniela Monkada: Utah Valley University Students Host Guest From Pakistan

Katherine Snow: Learning Culture of the Mountain People of Congo

Rotary International: Learning Cultures to Build Ties with Mountain Nations










Task List Rotary Round Table




Rotary International:  Learning Cultures to Build Ties with Mountain Nations


Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University hosted three distinguished speakers representing Rotary International in the State of Utah at UVU on November 16, 2016. It was an event which celebrated the United Nations International Mountain Day and managed entirely by a group of UVU students – members of the Foreign Affairs Club. I was also surprised to now that our students hosted International Mountain Days every year starting from 2010. The main theme for this year’s International Mountain Day is “Mountain Cultures: Celebrating Diversity and Strengthening Identity.”

I was very excited to attend this event after looking into the program and learning about the different guests that were attending. The host students gave introductions to the different guests. Dr. Scott Leckman is a private practice doctor in Salt Lake City and apparently has done a lot of work lately in India. Mrs. Ruth Riley has worked in the financial advisory field for more than 40 years and recently she was elected as the President of Provo Rotary Club. It was very evident as she was introduced how many people she has been able to help. All of us in the audience and me, in particular, were excited to know that Ruth is going to be the first female president of the Provo City Rotary Club. Dean L. Jackson is a member of the Provo Rotary Club and remains active as a member of the school district community. He is active in helping people in Asia, including Japan. In addition, he is a chaplain in the Provo City Police Department. Thanks to the assistance from Dean L. Jackson and his daughter Angie UVU students were able to gather this event and to build relationships with members of Rotary Clubs in the State of Utah and better understanding how involvement in Rotary Clubs activities could help them to grow professionally.


Dr. Scott Leckman Presents at UVU

Dr. Leckman started his remarks by talking about how service to communities is one of the greatest ways to spend your time and fulfill your life. He then spoke of the eradication of polio in India and among the mountain communities there as well. He talked about the culture of local people there and that the word “Namaste” means “I bow to that divinity inside of you.” I thought that was so exciting little piece of the culture that he’s learned. His remark was “It’s better than saying Howdy.” It’s always important to learn little pieces of culture in different countries that are unique from ours. He then highlighted the severity of Polio. It’s a disease that has been around the world for a long time. The first epidemic in the United States was in 1916 that killed more than 9,000 people the first summer. There was an epidemic every summer after that. Then Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first vaccine for the virus. The first Rotarians that had the idea to really make a difference in public health (especially with Polio) received a grant from the World Rotary Club that allowed them to go to India and vaccinate 6 million kids. The progress since 1985 has been incredible. Polio exists in 3 countries worldwide only now.

Dr. Leckman then highlighted the activities that Rotary Clubs focus on a few of which are peace, and disease prevention. The Rotary Club of Salt Lake City, Utah has done a lot to help mountain communities in Nepal. Specifically, they sent $32,000 to Nepal after a devastating earthquake struck the country a year ago.


(L to R): Mr. Dean Jackson, Raul Rendon, UVU Student, Dr. Scott Leckman, Mrs. Ruth Riley, Munhbat Batmunkh, VP, Foreign Affairs Club and Christian Jensen, President, Foreign Affairs Club before the Round Table

Something that I got from the round table and the International Mountain Day celebration that I thought was very exciting when all presenters talked about the three things that you have of value to offer others: your word, your time, and your money. Your word is so important. Being able to come through with what you say you’re going to do is enormous. As far as your time concerned, Dr. Leckman emphasized that if you want to know what someone’s values are, look at what they spend their time and their money on. I thought that was so exciting and very real. Rotary Clubs are institutions that allow young people to build relationships and identify their values. Interaction with three distinguished presenters motivated me to be a better person and think about ways I can contribute to more peace on this earth.

“I have friends all over the earth, I just haven’t met them yet.”

Max Taylor, UVU Student





Roundtable With Utah Rotary Clubs Celebrates International Mountain Day at UVU

I found the conference roundtable “Rotary International: Learning Cultures to Build Ties with Mountain Nations” on November 16, 2016, very interesting. First, it was organized by Utah Valley University students through their alliance of clubs named the Utah International Mountain Forum, Second, to be completely honest I had no idea what the Rotary Club was before this discussion with involvement of three guest speakers representing Utah Rotary Clubs: Dr. Scott Leckman, from Salt Lake City Rotary Club, Ruth Riley, and Dean Jackson, from Provo Rotary Club. I liked the insight of all of the different participants, and one of the things that stood out to me the most was the quotes and photos used by Dr. Scott Leckman. I thought the progress they talked about was great, and it was exciting to have Ruth Riley there, who will soon be the 1st woman president of the Rotary Club here in Provo. Most of what I want to talk about is based on the remarks of Dr. Scott, which makes sense since he talked much longer than the other two guests.


(L to R): Christian Jensen, President, Foreign Affairs Club, Dr. Scott Leckman, Governor Nominee, Salt Lake City Rotary Club, Mrs. Ruth Riley, President-elect, Provo Rotary Club and Dean Jackson, member, Provo Rotary Club during roundtable at UVU

Dr. Scott talked a lot about his trip with the Rotary Club to India that he has been taking every year to give immunizations for polio. I thought it was funny how he made the joke about how they understand the diseases there and they see the necessity for the immunizations, while the people here complain about getting shots. I think my favorite thing from his statements was the quote from Albert Schweitzer that he started. Albert Schweitzer once said, “I don’t

know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” The same man also said, “Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.” I was intrigued by both of these quotes, and I believe both of them to be true. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how each and every person that you see is fighting a battle and going through hardships that you can’t necessarily identify from the surface. That’s beside the point a little bit, though, what Dr. Leckman and the other people there do with the Rotary Club is helping those around the world who are going through trials that are identifiable on the surface. The work that he was doing in India is amazing, and the number of people that he has helped is absolutely amazing. I didn’t know much about polio before this presentation, so I found some of what he said about the disease itself to be fascinating. He showed how we have evidence of polio going all the way back to ancient Egyptian times and then discussed the first polio outbreak in the United States. The first United States polio epidemic was in 1916 and started in New York City. Dr. Leckman said that there is an outbreak in the US every summer and that we are just well vaccinated so we don’t actually realize it, which I didn’t know and I found interesting. The first polio vaccine wasn’t developed until 1954. He said that 99.9% of polio cases have now been taken care of and that this year there has only been 72 reported cases.


Mrs. Ruth Riley, President-elect of the Provo Rotary Club Speaks before UVU Students

Mrs. Ruth Riley and Dean Jackson also talked about the aims of the Rotary Club. The greatest aims are for peace, disease prevention and treatment, and also aid for sanitation and clean water projects. The Rotary Club activities are entirely voluntary. Most of the members are just assisting as much as possible on the side while still trying to maintain their busy lives. Dr. Scott Leckman, the first person that spoke, is a surgeon and still finds the time to work and serve others. The Rotary International is now working in over 200 different countries. Their impact can indeed be felt all the way around the world, and they are having a major impact on improving the lives of those who stand in need.


Christian Jensen, President, Foreign Affairs Club present Certificate of Appreciation to Dr. Scott Leckman, Governor Nominee, Salt Lake City Rotary Club

This was a fascinating and important event for students in the audience to learn how they could make their professional life more successful by building relationships with similar minded individuals around them and worldwide through the Rotary International and to serve to other communities and the mountain ones in particular. It was also one more successful experiment of our students, members of UIMF to develop professional skills by hosting important dignitaries and to contribute to the commemoration of the United Nations International Mountain Day. 

Jaron Jones, UVU student


Round Table With Rotary Club Representatives

On November 16, 2016, UVU students hosted a very interesting event – round table highlighting three representatives of the Rotary Clubs from the State of Utah: Dr. Scott Leckman from Salt Lake City Rotary Club, Mrs. Ruth Riley and Dean Jackson, the President and the member of the Provo City Rotary Club respectively. It was a forum contributing to the commemoration of the International Mountain Day, declared by the United Nations.


Dr. Scott Leckman during Round Table at UVU

One quote that Dr. Scott Leckman started with that really captures the mission of the rotary club is from Albert Schweitzer which states “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” This was really reflected throughout the whole discussion. I also really liked that the emphasis that the three distinguished guests made was not only on providing service to others, but also connecting with them. Dean Jackson even mentioned how when we break down what we all are – even to our smallest particles, we are all energy. It is that energy that connects us and drives us and makes us one. We all come from varying backgrounds and circumstances. Instead of dividing us, these differences should bind us together and should allow us to share strengths and work together. That idea is very present in the Rotary Club. Not only are their members concerned about helping and changing their own community, but they are also interested in helping others internationally, on a global scale.


One such example was with the overall goal of the Rotary International to eradicate polio. Polio has been a problem since ancient times, but had become a huge problem in the 20th century especially in the United States. Once a vaccine was created that was efficient and successful, the goal was made to eradicate polio completely. The Rotary Club was the first group to start trying to eradicate polio worldwide, which is a challenge since the disease is not as easy to recognize (because it can be asymptomatic) and eliminate as other diseases such as small pox. However, they have been able to travel to different countries around the world providing free vaccinations for children. One example that Dr. Leckman gave was with work of their group in India. They were able to provide the vaccine to many who would normally never have received it. Because of their determination, they along with others have almost completely eradicated polio globally. Now polio is limited to 3 countries and they have only had 32 cases this year as opposed to several hundred cases in previous years.


Christian Jensen Present Certificate of Appreciation to Dean L. Jackson for Contribution to the International Mountain Day Celebration

Not only do members of Rotary Clubs strive to help with diseases and vaccinations, but they also help with challenges and problems in other areas as well. Some of these focuses are peace, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, education, natural disasters, etc. One example with this was in helping with instruments in Japan after a tsunami.

One reason why members of Rotary International are able to help so much and in so many areas worldwide is because they are not religious or politically based. They’re only based on service and so it is something connectable and relatable wherever you go, and this has opened many doors for them that might otherwise have been shut if they had other affiliations.

Distinguished presenters also brought out what we all have that is valuable to others. These three things are our word, our time, and our money. They brought out that even though we are college students, the first two of those things are free and we can easily give. Also, as we are in school and learning, it is important to learn how to serve and help others in whatever vocation we may be pursuing.


Johana Linford, UVU Student, Political Science Major


Learning Mountain Cultures through Rotary International

I was very interested to hear about round table with three Rotarians which took place at Utah Valley University on November 16, 2016, because I think Rotary Club is a very amazing thing. I have always been interested in humanitarian efforts and I believe that we all have something to give. I believe that the smartest people are those that give of their time, energy, and talents.


(R to L): Dr. Scott Leckman, Governor Designate, the Salt Lake City Rotary Club; Ruth Riley, President of the Provo Rotary Club and Mr. Dean Jackson, member of the Provo Rotary Club

Dr. Scott Leckman, representative of the Salt Lake City Rotary Club, Ruth Riley, President of the Provo Rotary Club and Mr. Dean Jackson, member of the Provo Rotary Club shared with us, UVU students their experiences and initiatives as Rotarians and how involvement with Rotary Clubs could benefits students in their professional lives and careers.

I love what Dr. Leckman was saying about India. Going to India has always been a dream of mine and I loved hearing what he had to say about the Indian culture and the humanitarian efforts he put forth there in eradicating of polio. I loved how he talked about while he was giving service the feelings he felt of accomplishment and of feeling like a “rock star.”

He then referenced to polio and when it was first discovered in America. He stated that every summer there was an epidemic of polio. He pointed out to us how fortunate we are to have the polio vaccine and how we could never understand the fear of polio. He told us how Rotary has made a difference in thousands of children’s lives by giving them the polio vaccine. He talked about the effects the vaccination has had on these third world countries and he talked about how much the world has improved since 1985 regarding the vaccine.

The Rotary foundation has six areas of focus that are important to them including peace building, education among them. Over the past two years the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City has impacted the lives of over 24,000 people. They have done many projects all throughout the world including India and Nepal. Recently the Rotary club raised over $32,000 for Nepal after an earthquake.

Not only the Rotary clubs do so much for countries around the world, they also serve the community. They give out dictionaries to students who have no books. They also have recently taught a class of 3rd graders about their work and the importance of others.


Christian Jensen, President, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU Presents Certificate of Appreciation to Mrs. Ruth Riley, President of the Provo Rotary Club

“Look at where people spend their time and their money and that’s how you can tell what kind of person they are,” said Dr. Leckman. I love this. I love how the Rotary club is serving others. Dr. Leckman also said, “It’s all about relationships.” Loving people and reaching out and serving are the most important things in life. I agree with this wholeheartedly. When we reach out and serve others it doesn’t only benefit others, but it benefits us.

This event was so interesting. I really didn’t have any idea what the Rotary club was before this event, but Dr. Leckman spread light upon the subject and he did a really good job on teaching us what the Rotary club is all about. It has inspired me to reach out to others. I think we sometimes think that we can only do good if we go to foreign, third-world countries, and the mountain communities in particular, but Dr. Leckman also taught us that there is so much good to do in our communities as well.

Similarly, Ruth Riley shared with us many initiatives and projects available for students at Provo Rotary Club which help local people. While she is very kind and sweet person, it is very important that she is the first women President of the Provo Rotary Club. As a follow up for the round table she invited us to visit Provo Rotary Club and contribute our discussion during the lunch there at the beginning of December.

It was very productive event, which taught us many important lessons. I hope we can all reach out to others, regardless of our economic, academic, or social standards.

Megan Adams, UVU Student


2016 United Nations International Mountain Day Celebration at Utah Valley University





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On December 2, 2016, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) will celebrate International Mountain Day (IMD), established by the United Nations in 2003. UVU students will host the annual IMD celebration for the sixth time one week before December 11, which is the official date established by the UN for the IMD celebration, because of the coincidence of that date and the beginning of final examinations at the university. As a keynote presenter, they will host Ms. Mehak, director of the documentary “Daughter of Kalash,” as a follow up to the Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the UN Mountain Partnership (MP) held at UVU on October 7-9, 2015. WOMC was highlighted in the 2015 Annual Report of the MP as successfully hosted for the first time by students (, PP. 3, 13, 39). Ms. Mehak was not able to participate at the WOMC last year, therefore students raised funds to bring a foreign dignitary to Utah for the 2016 IMD commemoration.

The main theme for this year’s IMD is Mountain Cultures: Celebrating Diversity and Strengthening Identity.”


Preliminary agenda of the 2016 IMD:

  1. Greetings from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on the occasion of the IMD.
  2. Report about major initiatives and activities of UVU students during 2016 to advocate the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah and North America, Tony Medina, President, UIMF.
  3. Presentation of Certificates for contribution to the SMD advocacy during 2016 to the faculty, students, and community representatives.
  4. Presentation of the ethnographic field work in Congo, “Mountains are not only geography, but also culture!” Jacques Baraketse, Sam Kabwika and Dr. Patience Kabamba, Utah Valley University.
  5. Keynote presentation of Ms. Mehak Asad, Assistant Director, GEO TV in Pakistan and director of the documentary film “Daughter of Kalash.” (   Asad will speak about her film and the issues facing the Kalash people.

In February of 2014, the New York Times published an article highlighting the unique lineage of the small and reclusive Kalash tribe. It would not be a surprise to many in their community if this is still the first time you have heard of them. As one of Pakistan’s smallest and most unique religious communities, they have faced centuries of hardships and possible extinction of their ways and customs. And while they have begun to rebound slightly, they still face many contemporary issues to maintain their unique way of life.

While their exact etymology is still somewhat of a mystery, a team of scientists, led by Simon Myers of Oxford University, have found a more recognized genome mixed into the Kalash people’s DNA. “Another mixing event is the injection of European-type DNA into the Kalash, a people of Pakistan, at some time between 990 and 210 B.C. This could reflect the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. The Kalash claim to be descended from Alexander’s soldiers, as do several other groups in the region (Wade, Nicholas, “Tracing ancestry, researchers produce a genetic atlas of human mixing events,” The New York Times, (NY: NY, Feb. 13, 2014.).” With dwindling numbers and a rugged and remote area of the world they call home, it is no wonder they struggle to keep their beliefs and customs relevant to their youth.

Due their homeland’s placement on the map, they struggle continuously to fend off both Islamic extremists and governmental mandates. They have continuously been attacked by proselyting Muslim militants, the Afghani Taliban, and Pakistani mandates for conversion to Islam in the 1970s. Additionally, their polytheistic religious beliefs have fueled a rumor that they possess “immortality.” This has led to several attacks on their villages by the surrounding Muslim community.

With a generous count of just over 3,000 people who claim the Kalash faith, their religion is a blend of ancient Hindu, pre-Islamic Nuristan, and contain many of the Indo-Iranian myths, rituals, and aspects of their ancient society including dress, diet, and customs. To combat their dwindling numbers, their village will shun a Muslim convert to both deter others from converting to Islam, and keep their blood line “pure.” As one village leader put it, “If any Kalash converts to Islam, they cannot live among us anymore. We keep our identity strong (Raffaele, Paul, Smithsonian Jan. 2007).”

  1. Screening of the documentary.
  2. Q&A with Ms. Mehak Asad
  3. Reception

The event will be held in the Utah Valley University’s Library room LI 120 from 2 PM to 7 PM.






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For more information, please feel free to contact the president of the UIMF, Tony Medina, at

Information on previous International Mountain Day celebrations can be found here.

Tony Medina, President of UIMF and Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary of the 2015 Women of the Mountains Conference