Davis Projects for Peace
Congratulations 2014 Davis Projects for Peace Recipients!
Three groups of Princeton University students each have been awarded $10,000 to travel to Jordan, the Philippines and India in the summer of 2014 to implement their ideas for promoting peace. The proposals, which involve five students, were among 127 judged the "most promising and feasible" by the Davis Projects for Peace initative.
Projects for Peace was established by philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis in 2007, on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Mrs. Davis, who died in 2013 at the age of 106, urged young people to “bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war.” The Davis family has honored her legacy by continuing to fund Projects for Peace and is heartened by the quality and inventiveness of the projects to be undertaken in 2014, according to the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which administers the Projects for Peace.
Here are descriptions of Princeton’s winning projects:
Children’s Playground: Fostering Peace between Native and Refugee Communities
Princeton students Wardah Bari ’16 and Farah Amjad ’16 aim to ease tensions between local Jordanians and Syrian refugees in the developing city of Mafraq, Jordan, through the creation of a children’s playground. It will allow Syrian and Jordanian children to share experiences and thoughts through creative expression, such as writing, photography and painting, fostering peace that will extend beyond the playground. The work the children produce will be compiled and showcased through a variety of outlets, including social media, a children’s book and an art exhibition. The students will work with local aid organizations, like Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development and Oxfam, to secure facilities and support.
“Since there is no definite end to the war (in Syria) in sight, it is important that Jordanian and Syrian refugees learn to live together in peace in Mafraq,” the students wrote in their project proposal. “By helping the children of the two groups build close relationships, these children can then influence their friends, families and communities. … Dialogue between different communities in the refugee populations of Jordan will allow the people not only to find peace within themselves but also within their communities.”
Climate Change Hackathon: Combining Technology and Activism for Peace
Jacob Scheer ’15 and Miguel Lachanski ’15 will organize the first-ever 72-hour hackathon in the Philippines dedicated to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Hackathons are events in which teams of computer coders, developers and organizers compete to solve a problem by building a website or an app within a specified time period, usually one to three days. The project hopes to capitalize on the creative energies that hackathons engender to create new tools for dealing with climate change and natural disasters.
“Because hackathons emphasize the sharing of ideas, knowledge and tools for innovation, they directly contribute to peaceful and cooperative relations between peoples,” Jacob and Miguel wrote in their proposal for the project. “One of the most exciting aspects about hackathons is the unpredictability of the outcome. … There is a distinct possibility that our hackathon will produce a truly revolutionary application that will transform the way people think about climate change.”
Angels for Angels, a non-governmental organization, will provide logistical support for the project. SocialTagg, a start-up, will assist in hackathon administration while the World Extravaganza Arts Foundation will document the event. The hackathon will be hosted at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
Shanti Dhaam: An Abode of Peace for the Deceased and the Living
Moved by an encounter with a grieving mother begging for money to cremate her son in the town of Deheri, India, Paarth B. Shah ’16 pledged to build a crematorium, a Shanti Dhaam, so no other mother would have to beg to say goodbye to a child. With no cremation facility, villagers must travel to the closest town five to seven kilometers away. This situation has created a divide between poor villagers and the landowners, merchants and wealthier citizens who have the means to hire funeral services to have a body embalmed and transported for cremation.
This project aims to act as a peacemaker between the two groups. Already, Paarth has raised $4,600 and won support for the project from both laborers and landowners, with commitments from the community to help build and provide land for construction. When complete, the Deheri Shanti Dhaam will include a roofed crematorium, a wood store, a storage shed and the supplies needed to perform cremation service. After construction, it will be maintained by the Gram Panchayat, or village council.
“Here in America we always think of building schools, wells, libraries and hospitals to bring peace in developing countries,” Paarth wrote in the project proposal. “But what I have learned from my experience talking to the people of this village is that if there’s one thing certain in life, it’s death. … This project is designed toward that ultimate truth where people can bid a final farewell to their loved ones: with dignity, with respect and above all with shanti.”
Applications from Princeton students were sent through the University's Pace Center for Civic Engagement, which helps make civic engagement an integral part of the Princeton experience by connecting students with experiential service opportunities to sustain lasting and meaningful change in the community and around the world . A complete list of the winning schools and projects is available on the Davis Projects for Peace website.