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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

“100 Projects for Peace” giving $10,000 per proposal

Published: December 1, 2006
Section: News

A community video project in Oaxaca, a theatrical production in Brazil and a sports program for youth in Colombia are just a few of the ideas proposed by Brandeis students for 100 Projects for Peace, a competition that invites college students across the nation to design projects that will contribute to world peace in the 21st century. Each of the 100 winners will receive a $10,000 grant to fund their projects, which must be completed in the summer of 2007.

The competition is sponsored and funded by Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a philanthropist and internationalist who recently donated $1 million to the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program. In a statement, she said that she made the donation in order to bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world.

The competition is open to all undergraduate students attending any of the 76 colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program, according to Brandeis Associate Director of Admissions Nicholas Senecal, who is the campus coordinator of the UWC Scholars Program. Groups of students as well as individuals may submit project proposals.

The Scholars Program gave no clear definition of a project for peace so as not to limit the students imaginations, according to the programs website. Senecal said the key criteria will be the projects stability, practicality and use of money.

The description purposely left it completely wide open, said Senecal. Theres a broad spectrum, but the projects could deal directly with coexistence themes or helping the poor. And theres no place preference, so these projects can take place in New York or Colombia, anywhere in the world.

Three weeks ago, Senecal and Marci McPhee of the Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life invited any students interested in the competition to attend a meeting to discuss ideas. About twenty students came and shared what Senecal called ambitious and amazing plans.

Senecal noted that although the competition is open to all undergraduates, and that some seniors proposals are an extension of their senior thesis.
They see it as a wonderful way to continue what theyve been doing. Although the project cannot be used for academic credit, they are planning ideas that could not be achieved without the money, he said.

Jeff Arak 07, an Anthropology and Latin American Studies double major, is merging his proposal with his senior thesis. He would like to create a community communications video project in a town in Oaxaca, Mexico to promote social justice. He would work with Chiapas Media Project and Ojo de Agua, which are NGOs that provide tools and training to indigenous communities to help them establish their own information outlets and allow them to share their stories through their own words and images. The $10,000 would go toward digital video production equipment, cameras, computers, travel and other expenses.

Video is an increasingly important part of our visual societies today, said Arak, who spent the summer working with indigenous community media projects. It is a unique tool to use because a wide array of people can use it. It doesnt matter if youre illiterate or ineloquent, because everyone can appreciate beautiful pictures. With technical training, people can make interesting videos, and on the other end, the people watching can enjoy them.

Students entering the competition must submit a written statement describing their project, expected outcomes and a budget to Senecal in the Shapiro Admissions Center by Jan. 22. A small committee of Brandeis faculty and staff members will judge the proposals and select a winner and two alternates by Feb. 15. These proposals will be sent to the Davis UWC Scholars office, which will review the selections from each of the 75 colleges and announce the final decisions by March 15. Once the winning projects have been completed, the students must prepare and submit a final report by Sept. 15.

Its terrific that [Davis] is being so generous by donating $1 million, said Senecal. Its a really marvelous prospect.