By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — A Bucknell University student group working to provide clean drinking water in a South American village has received a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from the Davis Foundation.
The group — seniors Alesandra Agresti, Jon Campbell-Copp, Scott Teagarden and John Trimmer — traveled to Suriname in January with Bucknell professors Kevin Gilmore and Mike Toole to meet with the villagers and revise their design proposal. The students will return this summer to set up a sustainable drinking water system using a collection system for rainwater.
In addition to the student group, Mengzhou Huang, Class of '13, collaborated with friends in Chicago and Taiwan on another Project for Peace effort that was funded through International House Chicago.
The Cross-Strait Student Leadership Conference began last year as a pilot program with eight students from different high schools and colleges. This summer, the conference continues with an intensive, seven-day program in Shenzhen, China, for 30 high school and college students from mainland China and Taiwan.
Fourth year for Bucknell projects
"This is the fourth year that Projects for Peace has run and Bucknell has participated each year," said Paula Myers, assistant dean of students at Bucknell and director of International Student Services.
"Our students have worked on establishing a sewing co-op in Guatemala; designing a water pumping station in El Porvenir, Nicaragua; making a documentary video on the plight of the banana workers in Nicaragua; and establishing a bicycle co-op for two villages in Northern Uganda, a project that has become Bicycles Against Poverty," she said.
Building peace throughout the world
The Projects for Peace program, in its fourth year, honors philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who launched the initiative on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2007. Designed to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century, each of the 100 projects will receive $10,000 in funding.
The winning projects propose specific plans of action that will have lasting effects including post-conflict community building, youth empowerment and education programs, improved community water supplies worldwide, and a multitude of agrarian enterprises in countries where famine is pervasive.
"The competition on more than 90 campuses was keen and we congratulate the students who proposed the winning projects," said Executive Director of the Davis United World College Scholars Program Philip O. Geier.
"Kathryn Davis was motivated to establish Davis Projects for Peace in 2007 because she felt a great sense of urgency about an elusive goal: peace in the world. She felt frustrated that older generations had failed in that great quest. Her vision has motivated young people, and they have drawn inspiration from her," Geier said.
"I want to use my birthday to once again help young people launch some initiatives that will bring new energy and ideas to the prospects of peace in the world," said Davis. "My many years have taught me that there will always be conflict. It's part of human nature. But love, kindness, and support are also part of human nature, and my challenge to these young people is to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war."
A complete list of the participating schools and projects, as well as a summary of the 2009 projects and a video interview with Davis from 2006, is available on the program's website at www.davisprojectsforpeace.org.
Read about other Projects for Peace efforts initiated by Bucknellians:
· Water project in Suriname.
· Bicycles Against Poverty trip to Uganda, summer 2009;
· Guatemala sewing co-op;
· El Porvenir water project;
· "Missing Seeds" documentary about the plight of banana workers in Nicaragua.
Contact: Division of Communications