Aissatou Gaye has received a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant for work she will do this summer in Senegal.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Aissatou Gaye ’16, an economics major from Senegal, has been awarded a $10,000 Projects for Peace Grant for work she will complete this summer with Claire Audrey Ba, a senior at John Caroll University. Projects for Peace, an initiative started by the late philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, is designed to spark innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to building meaningful prospects for peace around the world.

For most of July, Gaye and Ba will direct their program titled “YAW Camp–The Personal Development Camp for Senegalese Youth” in Dakar. The three-week camp for ages 13-15 will focus on the participants’ self-growth (yaw means “you” in the Wolof language of Senegal). The program is designed to help students develop new ways of thinking about their futures and career possibilities as they participate in a variety of fun academic and life-skills activities.

In their proposal, Gaye and Ba note that nearly 60 percent of the Senegalese population is under age 20, and about 35 percent is between the ages of 15 and 35. “This large youth population represents one of Senegal’s greatest assets but it poses, at the same time, a significant threat to the country’s peace and stability given the increasingly large youth employment provision gap,” wrote Gaye and Ba.

The pair said that the 13-15 age range is a crucial time to start developing the “critical, creative, and proactive thinking necessary to successfully contribute to the economic development and sustainable peace of Senegal.”

Gaye and Ba hope the prototype camp they roll out this summer will catch the attention of policy makers and education leaders in Senegal. Their aim is to progress from the funded model this summer to a program paid for by parents, donors, and “education actors” in Senegal.

“Receiving this award is definitely a cornerstone achievement for me,” said Gaye. “It felt like the beginning of the realization of my biggest dream: to leverage the Senegalese educational system to create high-impact human capital. It is wonderful to know there are people out there who believe in you and your power to bring about positive change. It inspires me to work even harder to meet my goals.”

Christina Brook ’18 will work with Māori youth this summer in New Zealand.
Christina Brook ’18 will work with Māori youth this summer in New Zealand.

Projects for Peace grants are open to students at the 91 partner colleges and universities of United World College. The program was created in 2007 through the generosity of Kathryn W. Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist, on her one-hundredth birthday. Davis, who died in 2013 at 106 years of age, is the mother of Shelby M.C. Davis who funds the Davis United World College Scholars Program (UWC).

A second Middlebury student, Davis UWC Scholar Christina Brook ’18, received a grant in an equal amount, funded by the Middlebury president’s office for a project in New Zealand this summer. Brook’s project, “Maui & the Movement,” will work to develop leadership skills among Māori youth. Māori communities suffer disproportionate rates of alcoholism, drugs, violence, sexual abuse, and suicide attempts, Brook wrote in her proposal. “Māori youth are in desperate need of encouragement, and the skills to become the leaders they inherently have the power to be.”

Reporting by Stephen Diehl; Photos by Robert Keren

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Projects for Peace