Davis Projects for Peace is an initiative open to all undergraduate students at the more than 90 American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program. Launched in 2007 by philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis to mark her 100th birthday, the initiative serves as a challenge and motivation for today’s generation of college students to create and execute their ideas for building peace and understanding throughout the world.
Le Nguyen ’17 was the recipient of the 2016 scholarship. Nguyen’s “Foundation of Hope” project was geared toward helping children with developmental disabilities caused by Agent Orange, a chemical that was used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam conflict to defoliate forests, which is still having detrimental effects on people there. She and other volunteers went to the Thanh Xuan Peace Village in Hanoi, Vietnam, which is home to many children afflicted by the chemical, to spend time with and help children who have been affected. The four-week project Nguyen designed ran from late May to late June and included educational lessons, field trips, crafts and other activities. The three main objectives of the project were to improve the childrens’ education, show love and support to the victims and promote awareness about Agent Orange in the Vietnamese and U.S. communities. Initially, Nguyen had planned to use part of the grant to purchase 10 computers for the village so that they could have better access to educational tools and information. She instead bought air conditioners, televisions and fiber threads as she learned that those things were most essential to the village. Now, the children there will be able to attend school even during the extremely hot and humid summer months, and televisions will be used as display tools in classrooms. The children in the village are also taught to weave and sew, and Nguyen’s purchase will provide them with the necessary materials for a long time.
Nguyen is majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing and minors in web development and economics.
Quote: “I have grown as a leader and as a person thanks to this project. It has changed my life in so many different ways, and it will always be a big achievement that I will never forget. Despite all of the temporary stress and anxiety that I faced, I would do it all over again, and I would work even harder because I realized that I would do almost anything to see those children happy.”
Read more about Nguyen's project on Hood's blog.
Molly Masterson '17; archaeology and Spanish double major
Logan Samuels '17; communication arts and English double major, leadership minor
Project Title: Writing the Wrong
Location: Frederick, Maryland
Abstract: Molly Masterson '17 and Logan Samuels '17 implemented a five-week after-school program called Writing the Wrong for immigrant girls from Latin-American countries with a basic to limited understanding of the English language. The focus of the program was women’s equality, advancement and empowerment as well as the encouragement of leadership, all in the hopes of attaining peace over prejudice. The goal of the project was to provide an outlet that allowed the girls to express the difficulties they have faced in a healthy and creative way to find peace in their new lives. Molly and Logan led the production of a literary journal titled “Palabras de Amor para Zarpar,” or “Words of Love to Set Sail,” which included contemporary issues, editorials, future objectives and goals, prose, artwork and photographs by the girls. The participants learned the fundamentals behind creating a piece of literary work and the important steps of peer revision, and they increased their writing abilities based both stylistically and in the English language. They also gained knowledge of the problems that their society still faces in terms of cultural and gender intolerances and the ways in which they can combat them.
Quote: “Everyone has a story. It is our duty and our privilege to be able to share those stories and inspire each other in order to make this world something of which we can be proud.” ~Molly Masterson
“Anyone can say that they strive for world peace, but it speaks volumes when a community can work together to create an actual change that brings about peace.” ~Logan Samuels
Ana Filipovic ’16; business administration major, marketing concentration, economics minor
Project Title: Live to Learn—Learn to Love
Location: Prozor-Rama, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Abstract: Born in Croatia and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ana is well aware that the ethnic group to which one belongs—Croat, Serb or Bosniak—dictates all aspects of one’s everyday life. She wanted to help Bosnian-Herzegovinian youth learn how to thrive in such a diverse society instead of being held back by fear, hatred and a lack of understanding. Ana taught students about their country’s complex nature, its history and diverse culture through travel, observation and interaction with different people. By doing so, the students would learn to view diversity as an advantage and an asset from which they and society as a whole could benefit. She accomplished this by organizing a summer school with in-class activities and field trips for 16 students ages 14-17. Through group activities, field trips, workshops, speakers and volunteering, students learned teamwork, self-confidence, compassion, tolerance, appreciation for diversity, responsibility and much more. They formed new friendships outside of their ethnic groups, gained new skills and learned that differences should be something that connects people rather than divides them.
Quote: “I have learned that being comfortable expressing who we are as individuals with all the things we think define us—ethnicity, culture, religion, etc.—and accepting others for who they are, is the foundation of peace. The only way to Live to Learn and Learn to Love the differences that exist among us is by encouraging and motivating the youth to become an active part of our society. Being part of a change you wish to see in the world is an excellent start of contributing to the creation of worldwide peace.” ~Ana Filipovic
Nada Elbasha ’15; Middle Eastern studies and social work double major
Jackson Monzón ’14; Latin American and Middle Eastern studies double major, French minor
Project Title: Words for Peace
Location: West Bank
Abstract: Nada and Jackson volunteered at the Karama Center located in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the southern West Bank. The center offers a safe haven for women and children who live in the camp. The center encourages discussion and exploration of diverse topics, which can serve as a temporary escape from the feelings of entrapment associated with life in a refugee camp.
Nada and Jackson implemented a writing program that would allow the refugees, mainly the youth, to express their ideas and feelings about their status or about the Palestinian-Israeli situation. Their goals were to instill the notion that even within the camp, the refugees have voices; to encourage thinking about the possibility of peace as a reality; and to think about peace as something to which everyone, including refugees, women and youth can contribute.
Quote: “This project addressed a group of children whose whole lives have been at the heart of the conflict. Although their circumstances may make them feel stuck, they are truly so much more than just refugees, and through the power of writing, can spread their voice to the entire world.” ~Nada Elbasha
“These children are but of a few years, but in their hearts and minds they carry the dreams, the hopes and the memory of those who came before them. To hear them speak is to hear the voices of their ancestors, but to fully understand who they are is to understand decades of ignored oppression” ~Jackson Monzón
Sissi Hamann Türkowsky ’12; art history major
Piret Mägi ’12; interdisciplinary studies major, web development minor
Project Title: Community Artivism: Unraveling the Prejudice Matrix
Abstract: Sissi and Piret volunteered with Asociación Martin Luther King, an organization co-founded by a former gang leader, an educator, a sports coach and the head of a small-scale business in a poor district in the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Its goal is to provide youth with an integral support program that would allow them to leave the street gangs and fully reintegrate into society; and to prevent delinquency through the generation of positive opportunities for young adults whose lives have been accompanied by crime, violence, drugs and gangs.
Sissi and Piret created art projects with 38 14- to 24-year-old teenagers and young adults from the district of Manchay, an impoverished peripheral squatter settlement outside of Lima. The projects provided this group of marginal youths, who were interested in the arts or saw the arts as a potential means of expression, with the skills necessary to become agents for positive change in their community and to inspire others to do the same.
Quote: “Our project did not end when we left Manchay; it is still in progress because we empowered many young individuals who are now working to improve their community. I learned that it is really effective to empower people directly suffering from a problem to become part of the solution; they work with passion.” ~Piret Mägi
“For me, ProyectArte was a marvelous experience about the great potential of the arts as a tool to promote self-confidence and social justice, and about the true potential of capacity-building projects. I learned that the best way to learn about yourself is to work closely together with those whom you consider very differ; the more you open to them, the more you open to yourself.” ~Sissi Hamann Türkowsky
Alice Butler ’12; French major
Projects Title: Investigating Islamophobia
Locations: England and France
Abstract 1: Alice investigated the issue of the so-called Islamophobia—a catchall term that has been widely used since Sept. 11, 2001, to define a prejudice or irrational fear of Islam or Muslims—in England and France, societies that previously accepted them with open arms. She traveled to cities throughout both countries and interviewed Muslims and non-Muslims in communities with large and small immigrant populations. Her questions focused on feelings toward Muslims, non-Muslims, the immigration situation in the country, the government’s position on Islam and solutions to the ever-increasing Islamophobia.
Alice produced a 90-minute documentary, Playing with Fire,” which told the story of Islamophobia through the eyes and experiences of immigrant and native Muslims in England and France. It was shown on campus, distributed to people she interviewed and broadcast on the Internet. She also submitted articles to international media sources and created a newsletter featuring her findings.
Quote 1: “Close at heart are the messages, the ideas and the people I met this summer while completing my project. Whenever I think back to the experience, I remember new friends; shared food and stories; and a shared desire to make the world a less hostile, more understanding place through innovative, creative means, one person at a time.” ~Alice Butler
Dale Moyers ’11; mathematics major
Peggy Moyers ’11; mathematics major
Project Title: Life Connection Mission School
Location: Montrouis, Haiti
Abstract: Dale and Peggy traveled to Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, to expand the College Educatif D’Excellence in Montrouis by building four classrooms and an administrative office. The nearly 550 students who attend the school, which is dedicated to providing children with a quality education and to producing responsible and productive graduates, are from impoverished families and are often the first in their families to receive a formal education. The addition enabled the school to add grades 9 through 12 to their preschool through 8th grade program and to reallocate space to allow for a full school day for all grades.
Education is a prized commodity in Haiti and is generally the only pathway out of poverty. A completed primary and secondary education enables students the opportunity to find a lucrative job or attend a university, vocational school or apprenticeship.
Quote: “How do we change the world? Three words: education, education, education. That is the greatest lesson of this project. The College Educatif D’Excellence is helping to end the cycle of poverty by providing this critical resource.” ~Dale Moyers
Justin Abodalo ’12; law and society major, philosophy minor
Michelle Marquardt ’11; French-German major, global studies minor
Samantha Murphy ’09; law and society major, journalism minor
Carlin Rabie ’11; computer science major, Middle Eastern studies minor
Project Title: Peace in Palestine
Abstract: Justin, Michelle, Samantha and Carlin volunteered at the Ansar Center’s summer camp in Bethlehem. The center reaches out to the Palestinian community by providing educational workshops and services—athletic programs, English classes and counseling for victims of domestic violence—for women and children. The camp, held in cooperation with nongovernment organizations Oxfam Great Britain and World Vision, aims to mentor and educate campers to encourage participation within the global community.
Justin, Michelle, Samantha and Carlin saw this as an opportunity to promote education, tolerance and a commitment to peace. The mornings were spent teaching 13- to 18-year-olds basic English reading and grammar. In the afternoon they hung out at the local falafel stand, hiked in the area around the village and, most often, played football in the garden adjacent to the center. The time spent with the teenagers outside the classroom proved to be most groundbreaking, and relationships were forged that defied every cultural, political, ethnic and religious boundary. By interacting with the youths and experiencing each other’s cultures, the Hood students changed the Palestinian’s perception of the United States and became a voice for those who could not speak for themselves.
Quote: “What my eyes have seen I cannot believe that others have seen and turned away from. Our only chance at peace relies on the compassion of man and his willingness to help others.” ~Michelle Marquardt