MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? The Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace program has selected 100 proposals submitted by students from 66 colleges and universities to receive funding for the summer of 2007. Students from Middlebury College developed three of the winning proposals. The Middlebury College Office of the President has also announced that it will fund two more proposals under the same terms of agreement as the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace program.
Philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, established the new program with a donation of one million dollars so that each of the projects will receive $10,000. The objective of the program is to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century.
100 Projects for Peace invited all students from schools participating in the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program to submit a plan for grassroots projects for peace. A competition for the funding took place on 66 of the 76 campuses in the UWC Scholars Program, which is based at Middlebury College and provides grants to select American colleges and universities in support of students from all over the world who have completed their pre-university studies at UWC schools.
“We are grateful to all the students who submitted proposals and the faculty and staff on those campuses across the country who played a part in evaluating and submitting the students’ work,” said Executive Director of the Davis UWC Scholars Program Philip O. Geier. “Mrs. Davis, who just turned 100 years old in February, sends her congratulations to all the students for their creativity and commitment. She feels this is a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday.”
Davis, an internationalist and philanthropist and the mother of Shelby M.C. Davis, who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program, said, “I want to use my 100th birthday to help young people launch some immediate initiatives - things that they can do during the summer of 2007 that will bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world.”
The winning projects propose specific plans of action - from youth empowerment and education programs to improved community water supplies and a multitude of agrarian enterprises. Students will travel to more than 40 countries over the summer to implement their projects and report on their experiences once they return.
All three of the proposals submitted by Middlebury College students were awarded funding and include, as follows:
“Storytelling in Uganda” proposes to harness the power of modern technology by capturing and sharing radio narratives of children across Uganda. The project was submitted by sophomores Aylie Baker, Leah Bevis, Vijay Chowdhari and Chris O’Connell.
“Building a Peaceful Future: A Workshop for the Old City of Jerusalem,” a project submitted by senior Daphne Lasky, will address the city’s division and encourage workshop participants to test their idealism against political and physical realities. Lasky’s proposal was developed from a course she took her sophomore year, “Introduction to Architectural Design.”
“Enlightening Pakistan” is a project developed by first-year students Hamza Arshed Usmani and Shujaat Ali Khan, in collaboration with Seeds of Peace, an international organization founded in 1993 by late journalist and Middlebury College 1964 graduate John Wallach with nearly 3,000 alumni globally -100 or so in Pakistan. Through projects such as journals, cross-border interaction and religious tolerance workshops, they intend to give Pakistani youth the tools to make a difference in their lives.
In addition, the Middlebury College Office of the President has announced that it will provide funding for two more Middlebury proposals under the same terms of agreement as the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace program. “We were so impressed by the depth and promise of all the proposals that we wanted to maximize the opportunities for these students to undertake their projects,” said Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz.
The additional projects are as follows:
“No-Collateral Damage: Micro-credit, Environmental Degradation, and the Threat to Peace,” submitted by senior Caitrin Abshere, will explore whether micro-credit loans to impoverished agricultural communities in northeast Thailand threaten the peace of those communities by causing environmental degradation. Through collaboration with a Thai nongovernmental organization (NGO), a United States-based environmental consulting firm, and a Thai village that is a beneficiary of the NGO’s micro-credit program, Abshere will collect data and make recommendations that will benefit micro-credit practitioners and researchers.
“Louisiana Art and Peace Project (LAPP),” submitted by junior Jennifer Leigh Williams and first-year students Conetrise Holt and Justin Spurley, proposes to help New Orleans youth develop and express visions of civic peace through mentoring and collaborative art projects and learn to think critically about themselves, understand their communities, and expand their hopes for the future.
A complete list of the winning schools and projects, as well as a video interview with Davis from 2006, is available on the program’s Web site at www.kwd100projectsforpeace.org.