Category Archives: 2017

Events in 2017

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



Envoy From Uzbekistan to the UN Comes to Utah


Envoy From Uzbekistan to the UN Comes to Utah

Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations (UN), His Excellency Mr.  Muzaffar A. Madrahimov paid a visit to the state of Utah and came to tour Utah Valley University (UVU) on February 16, 2017. UVU invited Ambassador Madrahimov as part of series of guest lectures by the officials and envoys to the UN to engage students and faculty in most urgent issues of that global intergovernmental body, including the implementations of the UN’s 2030 agenda on sustainable development among them.

Ambassador Muzaffar A. Madrahimov speaks before students at UVU

The Distinguished guest spoke to political science students about the historical achievements of his nation, achievements that affect the way we see the world to this day. Mr. Madrahimov served as Deputy Chief of Mission at Uzbekistan’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., prior to being assigned to the UN post. His passion for raising the status for his nation is very admirable. He is coming from a nation where half of the population is under 18. This means that the young nation must arrange its priorities around the youth and use that as strength in order to become competitive in the future.

Ambassador Muzaffar A. Madrahimov
(fourth from the left)
with students after the lunch

The ambassador was very proud of his nation and the accomplishments that his people have contributed to the world. The ambassador and his counselor were very interested in the culture of Utah as well as at the university itself. When speaking with him both after the presentation and during the lunch, we talked about the importance of education in the state and how we can empower students to be successful. In fact, as a student myself, I have been given a plethora of opportunity to excel in my future career and in building an impressive resume while continuing my studies. Madrahimov was impressed with the lengths that professors go through in order to help students get high level opportunities. He was interested to learn also how students are able to grow professionally through the model of engaged learning at Utah Valley University which was implemented at the university in 2008.

These are the strengths that Utah and the greater USA is very proud of. It is what makes us successful as a nation. I believe Ambassador Madrahimov has been inspired by these qualities and the spirit of Pioneers that has made Utah County a very attractive place to do business as well as raising a family. Still, Uzbekistan has much work to do and a lot of catching up to do.

Since the time of the Soviet Union, the nation was led by Islam Karimov, who was the leader of the communist party and in 1990, declared Uzbekistan as independent. Elections followed thought the opposition parties had many obstacles and many could not place their candidates. Soon, the opposition parties were altogether outlawed and many followers arrested. As economic pacts were made with neighboring nations, the ruling party changed name and even extended the term of Karimov. Soon thereafter, terror raids by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan IMU, started terror operations and demanded that Karimov be removed. By the mid-2000’s there is civil unrest and many protests against the government. Journalists are jailed and torture becomes a tool of the government. Karimov keeps winning elections and seeks to stay in power by extending term and rigging elections even after independent sources cry foul of the results. His family eventually becomes entangled in corruption charges as his daughter has built a massive business and media empire for herself and she is eventually arrested. In 2016, President Karimov dies and a new president gets elected.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev wins the election as new leader of the country. As Ambassador Madrahimov mentioned, this represents a new era for Uzbekistan and it is a chance to improve the quality of life for all Uzbeks. The administration has already begun by releasing long jailed journalists and returning their freedom and the elections were made more transparent. This is not to say that there is not work to be done. There is precedent to follow but Mirziyoyev would be smart to create his own legacy and a legacy for a new Uzbekistan.

Josman Cereceres, UVU Political Science Department Representative




Ruben Garces: UVU Student Interaction With Envoy From Uzbekistan 



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