Written by
Matt Lynn, Engaged Pedagogy Assistant Director
May 1, 2023

How might music foster peace? Princeton University junior Carlos Cortez will explore this question as he brings together youth and community through music this summer in his family home of Zinaparo, Michoacán, Mexico. Cortez has received a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant to fund his music education project. 

By connecting with community partners, Fr. Martin Lopez Padilla from La Parroquia de San Juan Bautista and La Univa de La Piedad, Cortez plans to foster mentorship and provide a group of young people with a vital outlet for creativity and curiosity. Cortez says that he hopes his project will “mentor and empower the youth to be authors of their own destiny. Just as importantly, by teaching the youth of my community to play a musical instrument, I am encouraging them to revisit the artistic and traditional values of Michoacán.”

Cortez is excited to work closely with the youth of Zinaparo and contribute to more peaceful community building efforts there. He sees this project as an opportunity to not only influence the youth of his town, but to have positive reverberations for the entire community and surrounding communities as well. 

He summarizes this hope as he looks forward to this summer by saying, “just like a musical note can travel through both time and space when it is played, I am hopeful of learning how my project’s ideals and goals are going to have transgenerational effects on the future generations of Zináparo and ultimately transcend beyond the borders of my hometown.”

Projects for Peace is a global program that encourages young adults to develop innovative, community-centered, and scalable responses to the world’s most pressing issues. Along the way, these student leaders increase their knowledge, improve skills, and establish identities as peacebuilders and changemakers. Projects for Peace, which was established in 2007 by Kathryn W. Davis on the occasion of her 100th birthday, is designed to encourage and support creative and practical ideas by young people for building peace throughout the world.

A lifelong internationalist and philanthropist, Davis is the widow of Shelby Cullom Davis, of the Class of 1930, who was U.S. ambassador to Switzerland from 1969 to 1975. In 2007, Davis and her son, Shelby M.C. Davis, of the Class of 1958, gave a gift to endow Princeton’s Kathryn W. and Shelby Cullom Davis ’30 International Center. Projects for Peace headquarters is hosted by Middlebury College’s Center for Community Engagement. The Pace Center facilitates the Projects for Peace partnership with Princeton University. 

See the full listing of Projects for Peace for 2023.