Guatemalan first lady visits UVSC

The office of International Affairs hosted Wendy Widmann de Berger, wife of Guatemalan President Oscar Berger Perdomo, at UVSC on Nov. 1 as a guest speaker. This was her first visit to Utah. The day after her speech at UVSC, Berger received the Enterprise Mentor International’s First Annual International Service Award in Salt Lake City.

Berger’s interest in human relations caused her to study sociology at Trinity College in Washington D.C. Throughout her life, she has been involved with many projects and organizations that support the poor and vulnerable population in Guatemala. Berger noted that the majority of women in her country live in poverty and explained how this in turn hurts society as a whole.

"Women are the basic structure of the family," she said in her speech titled "Creciendo Bien: Women Taking Charge." The focus of this speech was on how women can change the world if only given the opportunity. She said women who are supported and well-educated stimulate change.

A video played during the presentation stressed the idea that Guatemala is a woman because it does not give up. In one of the poorest countries in South America, strong and able women are vital to Guatemala’s structure and economy. The process of building the country is a continuous process, yet it begins with women as the crucial stepping off point.

Berger’s own organization, Creciendo Bien, focuses on educating women and enabling them with the proper tools to survive and be active members of society, giving them a better and safer way of life.

At the end of her presentation, Boyd H. Bauer, director of the International Center at UVSC, presented Berger with an award as a token to her visit to the college and honor her involvement in humanitarian services in her country and the impact it has on the global community.

There is some controversy over her visit to America due to the recent decision from Guatemala to no longer allow adoptions to Americans starting Jan. 1. This would even include adoptions in progress at the time.

After the event Berger commented on the topic saying that "adoptions will continue," but that she wants to make sure that the process is legal and ethical.

Nearly 100 students, faculty and members of the community attended the presentation. Several dignitaries including Utah Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert and Wilson Sorensen, president of UVSC for 37 years and namesake of the Sorensen Student Center, also attended.

While in Utah, Berger met with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ First Presidency, toured the Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square in Salt Lake City and made a stop at Brigham Young University.

Leave a Reply