Three Princetonians win Davis Projects for Peace

Two Princeton University students and a recent alumnus are spending the summer in Nicaragua and Brazil pursuing new and creative ideas for promoting peace through grants from the Davis Projects for Peace. The program awarded more than $1 million to students from universities across the country to pursue international endeavors during summer 2012.

Luciana Chamorro, a recent graduate of the Class of 2012 and a native of Nicaragua, received a $10,000 grant to help members of the community of Matagalpa tell their stories of the 1980s civil war through the project "Stories of the Civil War: Empowering a Generation Through Community Filmmaking." High school and college students, video artists, scholars and the broader population will collaborate in a workshop to produce a video documentary, Chamorro said.

"The personal narratives of the war will collectively provide a view of the recent local history of Matagalpa, with the premise that understanding the past is empowering and gives a community the tools to think about their present and reimagine their future," Chamorro said. She hopes that such a project will help "recognize in the past the seeds of our current political and social issues, and use this understanding to build a more just and peaceful future for Nicaragua."

The team of Courtney Crumpler and Sarah Simon, both members of the Class of 2013, were awarded $10,000 to confront issues of health, nutrition and violence by mobilizing an underprivileged community, known as a favela, in Rio de Janeiro to build sustainable rooftop gardens. Their project, "Cultivating Restorative Spaces: Improving Health and Reducing Violence Through Urban Gardens," aims to bring youth and their families together while learning about food through sustainable gardening.

Crumpler and Simon said: "Through the development of urban rooftop gardens, we will promote peace by improving health and reducing violence, addressing food insecurity and malnutrition along with the creation of restorative and safe community spaces."

The Davis Projects for Peace program, 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, donated $5 million to endow Princeton's Kathryn W. and Shelby Cullom Davis '30 International Center.

"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. We don't know what tomorrow holds, and therefore let us take advantage of today to be as useful as possible," Davis said.

Davis Projects for Peace accepts applications from students in schools that participate in the Davis United World College Scholars (UWC) program, which provides grants to select American colleges and universities in support of students from all over the world who have completed their pre-university studies at UWC schools, as well as from students associated with the nonprofit organizations International Houses Worldwide and Future Generations.

"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 UWC Scholars Program Philip Geier. "Kathryn Davis was motivated to establish Davis Projects for Peace 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. Kathryn's vision has motivated young people, and they have drawn inspiration from Kathryn."

Applications from Princeton students were sent through the University's Pace Center for Civic Engagement, which serves as a central resource for civic engagement activities at Princeton by supporting students in addressing civic problems through direct volunteer service, civic action break trips, social entrepreneurship, political action, public service internships and fellowships, and volunteer teaching and tutoring. A complete list of the winning schools and projects is available on the Davis Projects for Peace website.