| by Emily Cipriani

News Stories

Two Middlebury Institute students and one alumna implemented development projects through Projects for Peace, which grants $10,000 awards to students to execute projects that tackle the world’s most pressing issues.

Projects for Peace began in 2008 when philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis committed $1 million to fund proposals that promote peace in the 21st century. This year, grants were awarded to Kimberly Arevalo MAIPD ’21, Saif Abdelrasol MAIPD ’21, and Shannon Casey MPA/ITED ’21, who pursued projects dedicated respectively to women’s entrepreneurship in Madagascar, student debate programming in Egypt, and youth development through jiu jitsu in Honduras.

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Madagascar

Handicraft training center
Women stand by sewing machines in the Handicraft Training Center developed by Kimberly Arevalo MAIPD ’21.

Kimberly Arevalo put her International Policy and Development training to the test this past summer developing a sustainable solution to women’s inequality in Moramanga, Madagascar. Arevalo teamed up with a local entrepreneur named Malala to create a Handicraft Training Center, which provides local women with business literacy training and transferable work skills.

My experience in Madagascar gave me hands-on experience in international development and the opportunity to implement what I am currently learning in my master’s program.
— Kimberly Arevalo MAIPD ’21

Through the Projects for Peace grant, Arevalo successfully completed construction of the training center and equipped it with resources that will support local entrepreneurs for years to come.

Elevating Youth Voices in Egypt

Debate class
Saif Abdelrasol MAIPD ’21 teaches students in a debate class.

Saif Abdelrasol applied his training from the Institute’s International Policy and Development program in a hands-on way within his home country of Egypt, where he helped develop a debate program called Debate for Action dedicated to elevating young voices.

Youth need to have the opportunity to speak up and make policy makers involve them in decision-making processes because the future is for young people.
— Saif Abdelrasol MAIPD ’21

In addition to helping local youth develop skills in debate, public speaking, and research, Abdelrasol connected the students with policy makers by inviting officials to attend sessions. Abdelrasol’s experience learning to write policy papers at the Institute also prompted him to include policy paper writing as part of the program’s curriculum.

Youth Conflict Prevention in Honduras

Jiu jitsu students
Shannon Casey MPA/ITED ’21 with jiu jitsu students.

Middlebury Institute alumna Shannon Casey focused on youth development using the Projects for Peace grant to grow a jiu jitsu program for young Hondurans to help combat gang violence and school dropout rates. Casey became involved in youth development through the World Compass Foundation in 2015, working on the foundation’s Souldiers Program in tandem with her attendance at the Institute’s joint Public Administration and International Trade and Economic Diplomacy program, where she gained practical training in managing development organizations.

Transformative change doesn’t always come from grand actions. Oftentimes, the biggest improvements are made over time and in the details.
— Shannon Casey MPA/ITED ’21

Through the grant, Casey successfully kickstarted the expansion of the jiu jitsu program to two additional cities and also began implementing a marketing plan with a local production company, ensuring that more students will be able to participate in the program in the future.


For More Information

Projects for Peace