Campus News

Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace

Story posted May 27, 2007

Mo Zhou '09 has been awarded $10,000 from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace program. Zhou and her student colleague, Lu Bian '09 from Grinnell College, are undertaking a research project to understand how the education policy of China affects Tibet and Inner Mongolia.

Mo Zhou '09

A new railroad that connects Tibet with the heart of mainland China raises concern that such a connection will bring too much foreign influence to the tradition-rich and long isolated multi-ethnic region.

"Our project will focus on China's education policy toward Tibet and Inner Mongolia, the two major multi-ethnic areas in the country," says Zhou. "In doing so, we will find how to let the young generations there keep an open mind about the sophisticated development in mainland China, while maintaining identification with their own culture."

Zhou and Bian plan to teach English in local schools at the grassroots level to develop a sense of how ordinary people view education and research how these regions implement education policy. They also plan to work with the Tibet branch of the news organization, The Nanjing Daily, and collaborate with non-governmental organizations to establish a Web site for international peace volunteers working on inequality issues in the education system.

Their final goal is to write a book about their research and reflections on this project. They already have a publishing deal and agreements from all of the organizations to carry out this project.

Zhou and Bian are among students from 65 colleges and universities receiving funding to undertake their proposed projects. Philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, established the new program with a donation of one million dollars so that each of the projects will receive $10,000. The objective of the program is to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement their ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century.

"We are very grateful to all the students who submitted proposals and the many faculty and staff on all those campuses across the country who played a part in evaluating and submitting the students' work," said Philip O. Geier, executive director of the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program. "Mrs. Davis, who just turned 100 years old in February, sends her congratulations to all the students for their creativity and commitment. She feels this is a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday."

The winning projects propose specific plans of action that will have lasting effects - from youth empowerment and education programs to improve community water supplies worldwide, to a multitude of agrarian enterprises in countries where famine is pervasive. Students will travel to more than 40 countries over the summer to implement their projects and report on their experiences once they return.

Mrs. Davis, an internationalist and philanthropist and the mother of Shelby M.C. Davis, who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program, said, "I want to use my 100th birthday to help young people launch some immediate initiatives - things that they can do during the summer of 2007 that will bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world."

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