Category Archives: 2016

Events in 2016

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

Promoting Youth and the Mountains Journal – UVU Journal Fair



November 2, 2016, several members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) had the great opportunity to be a part of a Student Publications Fair at UVU. This Event was hosted by The Journal of Student Leadership at UVU. The goal of this Fair was to bring together as many different publications at UVU to show students that they have an opportunity to be published in a variety of different journal that all focus on different topics.

Three UIMF representatives, UVU students Daniela Diaz Monkada, Aaron Holloway and myself were able to set up our booth at Center Stage and were surprised by the very diverse variety of journals at UVU. This was a great opportunity for our team to introduce and share the Youth and the Mountains journal with many students and professors at UVU’s Wolverine Wednesday. Our team is currently editing the 2016 issue of the Youth and the Mountains journal and has accumulated submissions, written by students, that show both experience and knowledge of major issues in the area of Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD).


(L to R): Daniela Diaz Monkada, President of the Model UN Club at UVU and Aaron Holloway, member of the UIMF


Youth and the Mountains features student works on varying topics that include SMD, comparative essays, and an assortment of research essays. This journal provides students with the opportunity to be published in an academic journal featuring their hard work researching their chosen topic. It was inaugurated for the first time in Erzurum, Turkey in September 2013 during the Global Meeting of the United Nations Mountain Partnership, which coordinates the UN SMD agenda globally. Since then, UVU publishes this journal as one more example of contribution from faculty and students to the promotion of the SMD agenda in the State of Utah and North America, and as an opportunity to raise a new generation of leaders in the region.


As people stopped at our booth, many were surprised to learn that everyone is eligible to submit a work to be published and were intrigued at a journal featuring sustainability with a focus on mountain livelihoods and communities. The 2015 issue of the journal will be finalized and will be published shortly. It will highlight students research in various areas in SMD, including water and environmental issues, gender equality among others. The 2016 issue, which we are currently working on, will be comprised from student comparative research papers discussing mountainous regions throughout the world. In addition, the 2016 volume will include student reflective essays about successfully hosting the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference using an experiential learning approach.

It was very encouraging to see the growing interest in the Youth and the Mountains journal. Among those who visited the journal fair, many were interested in receiving copies of the 2016 edition. Daniella, Aaron and myself were also able to gain connections with other UVU journals who are also interested in our publication and may want to work together in the future. We enjoyed our experience at the UVU Student Publications Fair and look forward to attending again in the future.


By Kiersten Dumas, Vice President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club at Utah Valley University


Discussing Sustainable Mountain Development with PR of Germany to the UN, Ambassador Dr. Harald Braun

On October 31, 2016 Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, Ambassador Dr. Harald Braun and his wife Ute visited UVU campus. The purpose of his visit was to promote Germany and its role at the United Nations, and to learn about the Utah model of economic development, its people, their traditions, culture and heritage. Ambassador Braun made a presentation before UVU students on the topic: “Germany’s Role in the United Nations”


(L to R): Munkhbat Batmunkh, Ambassador Harald Braun and Christian Jensen after breakfast

Before the major presentation, Ambassador Braun and his wife met with UVU leadership and a group of selected students during the early morning breakfast. Two represented the only UVU students during breakfast in addition to three students from Germany, who study now at UVU through the foreign exchange program. Dr. Jeffery Olson, Senior Vice President, (UVU) hosted the honored guests. After the brief introductions by all participants at breakfast, the Ambassador and his wife curiously asked about the Foreign Affairs Club, and student involvement in the club’s activities. It was a great moment for the Foreign affairs club presidency to present the Ambassador with documents about both the club and the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, which advocates the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda at UVU in the State of Utah. In addition, he was presented with a copy of the United Nations Secretary General’s Report on SMD featuring UVU students as the hosting of the International Women of the Mountains on October 7-9, 2015. The students emphasized the importance of the club for student engaged learning. Club members engage by hosting dignitaries and different events to share ideas and initiatives to bring about real change throughout the world and among mountain communities in particular. The Ambassadors’ wife, Ute Braun, had questions about the Model UN initiative, which involves students in the UN agenda. The students informed the distinguished guests that the UIMF focuses on encouraging students to look for and share experiences in economy, political life, culture and ideas in the State of Utah with people and dignitaries from abroad. They explained how Utah is a great model of sustainability for mountainous nations around the world. The economy was built in a place that was desolate, by Mormon Pioneers venturing west one century and half ago.

Ambassador Harald Braun was impressed by the efforts and work of UVU students featured in the United Nations Secretary Generals’ report. He and his wife commented on the huge potential we have in Utah to reach out to similar mountainous countries and share stories of success. This led the Ambassador into discussions about the cooperation in education between the State of Utah, the Federal government and in Germany. European nations have seen a decline in exchange students from the United States to Europe; this is partly due to differences in language. Dr. Olson informed the VIP-guests that the State of Utah is combating this by helping students learn multiple languages through its dual language programs.

Ambassador Braun made brief remarks about the current economic and political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany. Much has happened in the past hundred years to bring his country to where it is today. Germans can finally say that they are in peace with its surrounding neighbors. They have a rich history and a beautiful country; it has survived two world wars and the split of east and west. The German economy is thriving magnificently today.

After breakfast, the Foreign Affairs club presidency spoke with the Ambassador about future plans and the possibility for the student delegation to see him during their visit to the 61 session of the UN Commission on Status of Women (61CSW) next spring. During 61CSW, UIMF will make a special presentation about contributions to the promotion of gender, and SMD agendas of the United Nations by hosting International Women of the Mountains conferences in Utah since 2007. Ambassador Braun expressed his willingness both to meet members of the delegation and to work in any ways to advance the UN agenda on sustainable development goals.

Christian Jensen, President, Foreign Affairs Club and Munkhbat Batmunkh, Vice President, Foreign Affairs Club



Ambassador Harald Braun Lectures About Place of Germany in Global Affairs at UVU

On Monday, October 31, 2016 students at UVU had the privilege of attending a lecture by His Excellency Harald Braun, the Permanent Representative (PR)of Germany to the United Nations. Dr. Braun spoke on Germany’s role in the United Nations. Visit of such a high level dignitary continued tradition established at UVU during last several years to host PRs to the UN from many nations and engage students and faculty in many important initiatives at the United Nations.


Ambassador Harald Braun With UVU Students

Germany was a latecomer to the United Nations. It wasn’t until 1972 that both East and West Germany were recognized as countries and were provided seats in the General Assembly. However, after reunification Germany began to take on a larger role in the international arena.

            Out of all the European nations Germany is the largest and is the largest exporter in the world. Germany has a stable democracy and the resources so they have a duty to be involved internationally. They are currently involved in 16 different peacekeeping operations that involve 1,000 German troops with 500 in Mali alone. However Germany recognizes that military forces are often not the most effective and also provide police and civilian contingents. In addition to providing manpower to the peacekeeping operations Germany also contributes 6% or about 500 million USD to the peacekeeping budget. In addition to these contributions Germany is very involved in United Nations international and social goals contributing about 12 billion Euros. German is also very involved in the human rights efforts of the UN being reelected in October of 2015 to the Human Rights Council.


Students and faculty gathered for Ambassador Harald Braun’s Lecture

Germany is also working on the 17 sustainable development goals that will help develop the world over the next 15 years. These sustainability goals aim to eliminate hunger, poverty, and reduce epidemics. Germany also participated in the Migration and Refugee Summit. At this summit Germany assisted the forming of plans to address problems with migration or the movement of people for economic and resource related reasons as well as refugees or individuals who leave a place due to non-economic and resource related reasons.

Many of these goals coincide with goals of UIMF for sustainability in the mountainous regions of the world. Migration or the movement of people due to resource or economic related concerns can be address particularly for the mountainous regions by creating ways for these communities to be able to sustain themselves in ways of basic needs.

            The question that is now being asked is, Is Germany punching below its weight. Because Germany is such a large contributor in terms of financial investments as well as supplying man power there is a call for reform in the United Nations adding Germany as one of the permanent members of the Security Council. Currently Germany only has one vote in the general assembly while also serving on different councils. However, the Security Council is the only group within the United Nations that can put forth legally binding resolutions. The five permanent members also have what is known as the veto meaning if any one country belonging to the five permanent members votes against a resolution the resolution does not pass and become binding. At the time of its conception the veto helped to prevent a UN sanctioned war between the world powers. However, the idea is now outdated and used to support or deny political issues. Aside from the five permanent members there are also ten elected officials. These elected officials signify who is relevant and who is not at any given moment in the international community. Germany has already been a part of a deal that included the five permanent members and Germany, the Iran Deal. Germany would be much more able to influence the international community as a permanent member of the Security Council.

Tenika Ray, member of UIMF


Is Germany Punching Below it’s Weight?

            On Monday the 31st of October 2016, Utah Valley University had the awesome opportunity to hear from the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, Ambassador Harald Braun. Envoy of Germany to the UN enlightened us on many different topics as far as international relations. The majority of his lecture was him talking about Germany and the type of state that the country is in. Everyone there learned a lot about the UN’s plans for these next years, and what they’re going to focus on.


Ambassador Harald Braun at UVU

The ambassador started by talking about his responsibilities in the UN and what his job is and how he interacts with his other members of the United Stations. He then reassured us that even though Utah is 2,000 miles away from New York and even further from Germany, the issues that they deal with there and what we deal with here, are very similar. How everything that happens all over the world affects every country in the surrounding area. He told us that he would be speaking for 20-30 minutes and then he wanted to answer our questions and that we should be thinking of things that we wanted to ask him.

            The ambassador started by giving a brief overview of the history of Germany. He went over things like the rise and the fall of the Berlin wall, the cold war and how it affected them, both world wars, and of course how Germany ended up being in the United Nations. I learned that they joined the United Nations back they were East and West Germany. He mentioned that first peace-keeping mission that East Germany participated in during 1931. He said that Germany continues to try and not only try to send military contingents when it comes to keeping the peace. That Germany always tries to maintain the peace domestically, using political leaders and regular citizens. He said that he believes that the world needs countries like Germany that have the resources and are able to help repair the defaults that are present all over the world. Countries with strong democracies and strong members of their country. The first question that he posed was, “Is Germany punching below its weight?” I thought that was interesting because i’ve never really heard that Germany is having issues or that other countries might be feeling that they aren’t performing the way they should. He then continued to almost “talk up” Germany to all of us and try to help us understand that Germany really was able to help out and pull it’s own weight. I thought it was a very interesting approach to take, I almost felt like he was trying to convince us of how good of a country Germany is. It almost felt like he was presenting Germany’s resume to us. He said that in the area of peace and security that Germany is a solid contributor as far as budget. They are the 4th biggest contributor to the United Nations as far as the peace keeping budget. They contribute just over 500 million U.S. dollars to the budget. Apparently the peace keeping budget for the United Nations is even bigger than it’s regular budget.


During his presentation VIP guest pointed out Dr. Rusty Butler, former Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU in the audience who had a button on his jacket with seventeen colors. Ambassador Braun said that those colors represented the seventeen sustainable developmental goals that have been put forth by the United Nations and that those will outline their next fifteen years as far as their focuses. He said that Germany will be able to help the UN with that by using their multiple locations that are employed by the United Nations in Germany. There are many judges that live in Germany as well. One of them won an award for sustainability programs and is very highly admonished for that.

Ambassador Brauns’ third and final part really drove home his beginning point of whether Germany was punching below his weight, after which he answered questions. To be honest, after listening I didn’t feel at all like Germany wasn’t doing all that it could. If what the Ambassador said was true, it definitely seems like they pull their own weight and do everything they can to contribute to world peace and the other goals made by the United Nations. Overall it was a great lecture. I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

Max Taylor, UVU Student


Lecture of the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, Ambassador Harald Braun at UVU

On Monday, October 31, 2016, His Excellency, Dr. Harald Braun, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, visited Utah Valley University and spoke on “Germany’s Role at the United Nations.” There were two topics of discussion Dr. Braun focused on; what is Germany doing in the UN that sets them apart, and the conflicting question “Is Germany punching below its weight?”


(L to R): Ute Braun, Wife of Ambassador, Ambassador Harald Braun and Dr. Baldomero Lago, Assistant Vice President – Global Engagement, UVU

This semester I am enrolled in the International Relations class and it was important for me to understand from Ambassador Braun’s presentation about Germany’s role in the United Nations and how his nation has become an example of leadership, especially to those countries who do not find themselves in the Security Council. Germany is considered the “heart of Europe” as Mr. Braun explained, and pave the way in multiple facets, including economic growth and prosperity, and human rights advancement. The Ambassador also explained what Germany’s role today in the UN is. Germany must maintain peace in the world. Germany provides substantial aid to the United Nations through peacekeepers, and Military instructors, including 3,300 International peace member troops, and 1,000 troops in Iraq. Germany currently gives the third largest amount in financial contributions to the UN (7.1 percent of the UN’s total contributions), only behind the United States (22 percent) and Japan (10.8 percent)1. Germany also strives to maintain Human Rights goals internationally. At present, Germany supports the majority of the 16 peacekeeping missions in effect by the United Nations. Germany was also recently reelected to the Human Rights Council, and has been a massive contributor to the global south in its efforts to create the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (a roadmap to economic prosperity, supported by the entire world community).

Germany’s role in the United Nations has created a question asked by some of its fellow General Assembly members, “Is Germany punching below its weight?” Dr. Braun described to us that “Germany has one vote in the UN, no more, no less.” He also brought to our attention the dynamics of the countries who are active in the United Nations. In the hierarchy of the system, you are either in the Security Council, or out. Dr. Braun also noted that those who are elected to a non-permanent position in the Security Council are still considered less important than those nations who have permanent seats. The Ambassador also made a very demonstrative point that the Security Council’s personal ideals and use of vetoes on clearly positive resolutions “is not meant for the 21st century.” The veto is not used to stop war as it was meant when created, but rather used to support or deny political issues. The Ambassador explained that the forces at work in the upper ranks of the UN need to change if the full potential of the UN is to be reached.

It was very interesting and productive lecture, which provided both the audience at UVU and myself with new knowledge about important role of Germany as one of the leading nations both in Europe and globally at the United Nations.

William Crist, Member of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU

1 DGVN. (2016). Germany in the United Nations – deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen e.V. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from,


Germany’s Role at the United Nations: Ambassador Harald Braun

I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to listen to German ambassador, Harald Brauns’ lecture at UVU on October 31, 2016. After listening, I must say, I like him. I know this statement may seem juvenile; however, the way he spoke to us and explained his duties at the United Nations and Germany’s participation there in really pulled together in class learning and real life application. Something that he mentioned really drew my attention.


Ambassador Harald Braun Makes Presentation at UVU

In the United Nations the Security Council is made up of five permanent members and ten elected members who serve for 2-year terms. Those of the five permanent hold power of a veto. Each of the five have a veto for each reform brought to their attention. For example, the past three attempts to decide on a resolution to the Syrian conflict have been vetoed by Russia (a permanent member). For this reason, Braun suggests that the power of the veto be limited to a more specific set of cases. Still it is believed that the role of the veto amongst the five permanent Security Council members remains important; however to the extent in which it stretches is seen as needing reform.

Another very interesting point of the lecture was that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon by the Council. These goals are represented on a circular button with 17 colors representing each goal. Theses goals pertain to the major issues across the globe; things that the council has agreed need attention and reform internationally. For example, a goal of these seventeen is that to eliminate hunger and poverty. Braun shared that the countries of the United Nations have agreed to put their best foot forward in attempting to make this goal a reality by the year 2030.

Interestingly enough, Germany is actually looking to apply to become a permanent member of the Security Council. Germany has been elected as a 2-year member of the Security Council five times in the past. With Germany’s increasing participation and support of peace missions in the past years, as a country it has proven its intentions to be in line with those of the United Nations. Thus I would not be surprised that if the Security Council does undergo some level of reform, Germany would be an ideal candidate for permanent membership.

All in all, I would love to further hear about the United Nations from representatives themselves. In hearing how the UN works (behind the scenes) and the steps being taken in reference to current events like the Syrian Conflict. The members of the UN encourage countries to open its borders to refugees. Germany has been one to have open borders, taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees. I am very interested in the make up of the UN and how it may be able to act more effectively in the future.

Ellen Dekker, UVU Student


Germany and its place in the United Nations

On October 13, 2016, Utah Valley University had the pleasure of welcoming the Honorable H.E. Harald Braun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations to discuss the role Germany plays in the geopolitical sphere, and more specifically its place within the United Nations. Being a student of German and having lived for a year learning about its culture, I was excited to learn more about Germany in this context. Despite its absence from the permanent representation in the Security Council, Ambassador Braun stressed the leadership capabilities Germany has in leading peace efforts worldwide, with involvement in 16 separate peacekeeping missions worldwide, as well as supporting more than 6% of the UN budget on peacekeeping He also stressed the importance of peace in his own country and the political system which sees that there is a continuation of peace and preventing a reoccurrence of the Weimar Period, while enabling democratic ideals in their society.

Ambassador Braun also discussed the weakness in the current UN system. He sees Germany as an underrepresented party, most specifically within the Security Council. The Council, established with the creation of the UN founding members holds the U.S., France, Russia, China, and the United Kingdom to permanent representation. Additionally, UN member states rotate among 10 positions, serving for 2 years. Each member has one vote. However, only the permanent members have the power to veto any agreement within the Security Council. Ambassador Braun stressed that this veto power was not being used in the way it was envisioned at its conception more than 70 years ago. The permanent members, in his view, too often politicize their veto power to advance their country’s interests, rather than to prevent war.  He also emphasized the change in the geopolitical sphere in our current area, and that perhaps the Security Council structure is outdated. He advocated that Germany—as one of the largest economies in the world, as a leader of the European Union, and as the third largest contributor to the UN budget (After the U.S. and Japan)—should play a larger role in the UN.

Jon Downs ( R ) with Ambassador Harald Braun

It was especially remembering to meet Ambassador Braun after the presentation. I spoke to him about his studies in Tübingen. He was impressed on my knowledge of the region, and I clarified I had lived in the city the previous year. It was also nice to speak with him in German and practice my language skills. He encouraged me to continue my studies of the language and pursue my passion for international politics and diplomacy, a career which he emphasized is unique and one he wouldn’t trade for any other.

Jon Downs, UVU student

UIMF Hosts Rotary International: Learning Cultures to Build Ties with Mountain Nations





The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University will be hosting a round table on November 16th, 2016. Speakers at the Round table will include Mr. Dean Jackson, Mrs. Ruth Riley and Dr. Scott Leckman. Representatives of the Rotary International in the state of Utah will speak before the students on the topic “Rotary International: Learning Cultures to Build Ties with Mountain Nations.”

It represents one among three events dedicated to UVU students for the 2016 United Nations International Mountain Day (IMD) celebration. It will be the sixth time UVU celebrates IMD and to raise awareness among UVU faculty, students, and local communities about the importance of the sustainable development agenda of the United Nations. The central theme for this 2016’s IMD is “Mountain Cultures: Celebrating Diversity and Strengthening Identity.

This event is one of many International events put together by the Students of UVU. Having held the International Women of the Mountains Conference in 2015, students look to engage with international diplomats to bring about real change. Understanding and learning about other Mountainous cultures will enable people to come together and work to solve mutual problems.

In a world where a misunderstanding leads to fear and isolation, Rotary International says “We are 1.2 million neighbors, friends, and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities and around the world.”. For over 100 years, Rotary International has been on the forefront of helping those in need.

Preliminary Agenda of the Round Table

  1. Greetings from UIMF
  2. Keynote: Ruth Riley, President of Provo Rotary Club
  3. Speaker Dean Jackson, Past District Governor, Rotary International
  4. Speaker Dr. Scott Leckman, Governor Nominee, Rotary International
  5. Q&A
  6. Refreshments

The event will be held in the Utah Valley University’s Library room LI 120 from 11:30 – 12:45






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For more information, please contact Christian Jensen V at Christian Jensen V, President of the Foreign Affairs Club

Dr. Tani Barlow Helps UVU Students to Build Ties With Chinese Mountain Women

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted Dr. Tani Barlow, T.T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Asian Studies in the History Department at Rice University and a leading U.S. scholar on Chinese feminism, on October 11, 2016. Our members were interested in building ties with Chinese scholars in gender studies and from the mountain regions in particular in order to invite them to contribute to the future International Women of the Mountains Conferences (WOMCs). As part of student community engaged learning experience, UVU hosted four WOMCs as major grass-roots forum in North America to promote gender and sustainable mountain development (SMD) agendas of the United Nations since 2007.


Professor Tani Barlow in the Meeting With UIMF Members

Professor Barlow spoke about organizations in which she is involved that parallel the goals of fostering relationships and sustainability in the mountainous regions of the world. One of these organizations is Peace Women Across the Globe, which focuses on nominating a collective group of women for the Nobel Peace Prize who are working at the local, national, or international level for peace. Many of these women are farmers in mountainous areas. The ideology behind this organization is that locals can and should make the biggest changes in their community. One of the most striking examples was a woman who created a green tourist industry in the rural Chinese village in which she grew up. The goals of this organization also parallel with the goals of UIMF in bringing women to the table to assist in decision making in society to promote peace.

She also addressed the question of whether or not there is a battle between secular and religious modernization. Interestingly, Professor Barlow does not believe these two things had to be mutually exclusive. Both of us echo Professor Barlow’s assertion that religion can be a positive force in modernization. Of course, there do exist the extreme ideological instances of gross violations of human rights, but they can be protected in multiple ways. Violence against women is a global phenomenon and organizations such as Peace Women Across the Globe tackle this problem in various forms by empowering women at the local level to share their experiences and spread the knowledge of strategies that have worked and may work across interregional boundaries.

Professor Barlow spoke in an earlier lecture about the role of women in advertising. The portrayal of women in advertising goes hand in hand with women’s rights and their place in modernity. For example, in the early 1900’s we saw the emergence of ads that depicted a young man and a young woman shaking hands. That was a practice previously unheard. It was improper even. Men and women did not have physical contact with each other in such a way. Advertising changed that. They depict what it means to be an aspiring woman in modern society.

However, advertising also sexualizes women. Through advertisements women are commodified, they are commodities, and they are in commodities. The modern woman is affected to this day by the way they are portrayed by the media and in advertisements which is part of the commodities that can be bought or sold. For example, women can purchase creams that lighten their skin or bright red nail polish rather than soaking their nails in a red dye. They can purchase commodities for themselves that then make themselves the image of the modern woman as portrayed by the advertisements. Even dating has become a commodity. Based off of the image of the modern man or more often the modern women we create our expectations for what we look for in a potential partner. Nevertheless, there is a shift at least in China where women are choosing careers rather than marriage because the image of the modern woman is a strong and independent figure who cares for and sustains herself. She maintains a professional social and personal life and drives forward innovation and can affect change in both public, national, and international arenas.

During the meeting with UIMF members, Dr. Barlow recommended several individuals who could help further our goal of the UIMF and WOMCs, including Professor Wen Tiejun, Head of the New Rural Reconstruction Movement and Executive Dean of the Institute of Advanced Studies for Sustainability at Renmin University of China. He would be an invaluable resource in promoting the WOMCs and UIMF objectives. His experience with rural Chinese citizens and his “people-centered scientific approach” could be very influential in promoting sustainable development in mountain communities.

Professor Jing Wang was also suggested as someone who had experience related to what we are trying to accomplish. Wang is the founder and director of New Media Action Lab, a program which seeks to help modernize villages and improve literacy of members associated with them.


UVU Students Discussion with Dr. Tani Barlow

Meeting with Dr. Barlow provided UIMF members great incentive and encouragement to continue efforts in building ties between Utah and many mountain communities around the world with focus on promoting gender and family issues as part of overall goals of sustainable mountain development agenda. We thank Dr. Sam Liang, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Dr. Hong Pang, Assistant Professor of History and Political Science, UVU for providing us such a great opportunity to have a special meeting and discussion with Dr. Tani Barlow during her visit to UVU.

Tenika Ray and William Crist, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU

Lessons Of The Climate Change Impact on Mountain Livelihoods From Drowning Islands


Brook Meakins, a graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Law, is a family lawyer and advocate for global climate change. On September 20, 2016 she met with students at Utah Valley University (UVU) as part of her visit to Utah under the invitation of the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy (UCCD), member of the World Affairs Councils of the America. UCCD is hosted by Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her lecture title was: “Climate Change and Low Lying Island Nations: Relocation, Foreign Aid, and International Opportunity”


(R to L) Brook Meakins, Tony Medina, President, UIMF, Beth Martial, Executive Director, Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, Hong Pang, Assistant Professor, UVU, and Andy Meakins.

Mrs. Brook Meakins travels to many island nations to help them in sustainability and the issues caused by climate change. So why would an advocate for low lying island nations come to visit Utah Valley University? Just like the island nations, mountainous regions of the world are affected by climate change in similar ways. UVU, and the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) a coalition of student clubs at UVU in particular, hosted the fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference October 7-9, 2015 to advocate for the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs), including gender advocacy, economic opportunities, and climate change.

The members of the UIMF are actively engaged in SDGs promotion and the “Utah model” of sustainable mountain development in particular and sharing it with the mountainous communities around the world. The UIMF is no stranger to island nation issues, as it was honored to host and discuss the impact of climate change on the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with Ambassador Peter Thomson, current President of the United Nations General Assembly and Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN, during his visit to UVU in December 2015 (

Mrs. Meakins shared her experiences of working with four nations in particular that are in danger of rising sea levels: Tuvalu, Kiribati, The Marshall Islands, and the Maldives. These Islands are only a few feet above sea level and face many issues, including: safe drinking water shortages, food security issues, and garbage and sanitation issues. Research has shown that low-lying nations produce the lowest amounts of carbon emissions, but are the most severely effected by the emissions of industrial nations.

According to Mrs. Meakins, the Maldives is a country barely seven-feet above sea level, and relies heavily on tourism. To remedy this, the government under ex-president Nasheed, took the initiative to tax tourists for additional income and to help alleviate some of the islands issues caused by the tourists. Unfortunately, the shoreline is disappearing as well, so the on-staff workers place sandbags under the sand to make the shoreline appear to be perfect even though it is eroding away. As a remedy, the country has looked at options to buy property in other countries in order to save the nation from possible disappearance in the future. This is also true for Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. Each with large populations; many of which have emigrated to New Zealand, and the United States as a solution.

This is a very difficult solution, however, because the culture and environment is completely different from what they are used to. Islanders do not want to think that one day their nations could disappear, but the evidence is piling up that it is happening. Brook has used legal options and litigation in order to help some of these nations. However, many of them choose not to use legal means, as their culture persuades them from the confrontation it involves. Many of the reasons include: the populations either don’t think it is right, they are worried that they may lose the aid they are already receive, possible regime change, or religious reasons. In the case of the Marshall Islands, and the Banabas, they gave up their land to the US Government who used the land for nuclear weapons testing and phosphate mining. Decades later, these people want to return to the places they once called home. Some have even returned, despite the obvious health risks. With the case of Vunidogoloa Fiji, they decided to relocate themselves. They became the first village to apply for relocation from the Fijian government, ultimately moving just up the hill above the old village where they lived. This has become an example for other villages and nations due to the extremely successful transition. This was due in part to the people did this themselves, with the government providing the funds necessary. In order to help people all over the world that are affected by climate change, education is needed as well as a strong sense of self-preservation.


(R to L): Brook Meakins and Beth Martial, Executive Director, Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy with UVU stress-bolls after presentation


Islands throughout the world are becoming more vocal about receiving aid from other countries. Rather than directly interfering with these problems, governments have been searching for creative alternatives to provide aid. As the world changes at an accelerated rate, diplomats weigh the immediate versus long term needs of these nations and people. Island nations are effected immediately by climate change, but eventually, most of the world will be effected as well. In order to preserve the planet we live on, we need to make sure we are take care of it. This isn’t just an issue about the planet, it is a human rights issue as well. Brook travels in order to spread awareness and inform people of the impacts of climate change. As the message is spread, funds are provided, friends are made, and sustainability projects are developed.

During the Q&A session, members of UIMF asked for advice from Mrs. Meakins regarding whether her lessons of working with SIDS on the impact of climate change are applicable to the similar type of advocacy dedicated to the challenges experienced by climate change by mountain communities. They also shared with her their own initiatives and informed her about their contribution to the activities and agenda of the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris in December 2015.

Christian Jensen V., member of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University


Building Cultural Bridges between Mountainous Georgia and Utah




            Last week, on September 15, 2016, a delegation of the Republic of Georgia led by Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, Ambassador Kaha Imnadze, was hosted by Utah Valley University and Utah’s Springville Museum of Art. They were joined by students from several universities from across Utah, and invited guests at an exhibition of Georgian-Soviet era impressionist art that was rescued from destruction in the early 1990s. Event contributed to the theme of “Mountain Cultures: celebrating diversity and strengthening identity, chosen for this year’s celebration of the United Nations International Mountain Day.

            The morning began with a wonderful piano master class by the Georgian cultural attaché Mr. David Aladashvili, graduate of the famous Julliard School in New York. He played the music of Chopin and Georgian composers in UVU’s Gunther Technology building for many of the Art History students, and their music major peers. Following the performance, the Georgian envoy gathered in the common area of the UVU library for refreshments and a meet and great session. This was a highlight of the morning, as it allowed many of the guests to introduce themselves and meet many of their peers from across the state and the globe.

            The theme of the event was Building Bridges: Exploring Georgian Art and Politics. It highlighted a new exhibition of Georgian Art at the Springville Museum of Art. The Museum has one of the largest collection of Georgian Soviet impressionist art in the western world. Many of which were rescued by Utah citizens Ellie Sonntag, Roy and Anne Jespersen, and Jeff and Helen Cardon.

In my humble opinion, it was a wonderful exposé of the Georgian transition to the post-Soviet era, and their work in becoming an open, free, liberally-valued, and global responsible country while remaining true to their roots and history and maintaining their world-renowned sense of friendliness and welcoming people. The event began with brief comments and introductions by Dr. Baldomero Lago, Associate Vice President of Global Engagement at UVU, and Dr. Rita Wright, Director of the Springville Museum of Art. Dr. Lago greeted the Georgian delegation and emphasized the importance of the cultural exchanges and art, in particular, as ways to build stronger bonds between the mountain communities like Georgia and Utah. Dr. Wright gave a brief synopsis of the paintings on display at the Springville Art Museum.

            As part of students’ engagement activities at UVU, students from universities in the state of Utah were invited to participate in the contest by writing essays about Georgian paintings displayed at the museum. The call for papers was sent out to every major university in the state of Utah in August where students were shown the paintings in the exhibit, were allowed to choose their favorite piece and to write an essay on it for the UVU contest and for submission to the UVU Student Journal Youth and the Mountains.

Second place was awarded to Hannah Leavitt, an Art History major from BYU. Ms. Leavitt expressed the origin of her love of art, which began as a young girl while her parents worked and traveled through Eastern Europe. Her essay was a critique of the painting titled, “The Revolutionist” by an unknown artist. Her wonderfully written criticism was a


“The Revolutionist” –Artist unknown

deconstructionist interpretation of the meanings and symbolism embedded in the painting. Many of which harkened to the days of old, before the Soviet occupation of Georgia. She expertly made the comparison of the old women in the painting to the patron saint of Georgia, St. Nina, which both shared unmistakable similarities in symbolism and defiance of the Soviet occupation. In the reading of her essay, Hannah can be quoted saying, “She is not the revolutionist they wanted, but she is the revolutionist they received.” This was a strikingly poignant turn of phrase, as she drove her point home that Georgians have been, are, and always will be strong and proud people.

            The first place winner was another BYU Art History student, Mrs. Annilyn Spjut. Ms. Spjut was accompanied by her husband and infant child, and expressed her similar origin of love of soviet and Russian cultural and art. She focused her efforts on Mushambadze’s painting, “Sacrificing the Bull,” and made a wonderful comparison to the Georgian film, Abuladze’s Repentance. Within her essay, she focused on the historical roots and overtones of Christianity, and the symbolism of the Madonna and Christ. Both the film and the painting carry these symbols, and depict the harsh life of Soviet oppression, and the will and strength of the Georgian people to defy the Soviet ideology.


“Sacrificing the Bull” –Mushambadze, A. (1980)

Both essays were wonderfully written and evoked a sense of pride of the Georgian envoy. This was reiterated by the head of the Georgian delegation, Ambassador Kaha Imnadze. He was quoted as saying, “Your essays touched me, really touched me. As you captured the essence of Georgian life, history, and spirit.” While Ambassador Imnadze’s comments did have a hint of international politics to them, he remained focused on the message that the core of Georgian politics is the human being, and said, “Art is the our common bridge with Russia.” Later, he expressed his concern of climate change and sustainable development as the world’s greatest issue, more so than war and conflict. His tone and theme made the point clear that he views people and art as the answer to bridging the gaps between differing opinions.


(L to R): Ambassador of Georgia to the UN, Hannah Leavitt, Annilyn Spjut, Consul General Diana Zhgenti


Sign post in Tbilisi, Georgia

Following the Ambassador’s comments, Mrs. Diana Zhgenti, Consul General of Georgia in New York, gave a wonderful presentation on life in Georgia. One of the greatest points she made was the Georgian sense of inclusivity. To demonstrate this, she showed a slide of the central square in the capital, Tbilisi, where one city block is shared by a church, cathedral, synagogue, and a mosque. This was a wonderful message, which was demonstrated by her comment, “Our country is small, but our hearts are huge.”

            Following a luncheon held in the Georgian envoy’s honor, not to mention Dr. Rusty Butler, the former Assistant Vice President of International Affairs and Diplomacy for UVU, and long-time friend and mentor of the UIMF, the group made their way to the Springville Art Museum to view the paintings in person.

            During the second half of the day the Springville Museum of Art, unveiled the Georgian exhibition and hosted a special reception in honor of the official delegation from Republic of Georgia and guests of the museum. Once more, the talented musician from Georgia performed music pieces of Chopin, Shuman and Georgian authors to a delight of the audience.

Overall, the event was a wonderful showing of Utah student’s and local communities dedication and professionalism to their crafts, and provided a showing of how the different universities and institutions who are separated by geography can be brought together in a joint effort to celebrate the culture of a new friend in the world. Simultaneously, it allowed Utah to strengthen its ties with Georgia, and explore ways that our cultures are similar and the ways they are different. These events are a wonderful way to reinforce the ideas of the event: building bridges.


Georgian Delegation with organizers from the Springville Museum of Art

            The event was made possible thanks to the efforts from the Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy under the leadership of Dr. Baldomero Lago, with contributions by Dr. Rusty Butler, the former Assistant VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU who was able to build strong relationships with many PRs to the United Nations and with the Georgian PR in particular.

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By Tony Medina, President, Utah International Mountain Forum


Task List-Georgian Art