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Three students earn grant to help Tibetan villagers launch business

April 02, 2010

  • News Image
    Sara Eichelberger '10
  • News Image
    Jesse Schouboe '10
  • News Image
    David Willis '10

Sara Eichelberger ’10, Jesse Schouboe ’10, and David Willis ’10 earned a 100 Projects for Peace Award from philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis for their project proposal titled “Peace Through the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” The three students will spend their summer collaborating with Tibetan villagers in Mekou, the Pentok Institute in China, and Lewis & Clark Associate Professor of Chinese Keith Dede to develop a motorcycle repair shop that will serve as a vital economic and transportation resource.

The Projects for Peace grant program is 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 more than 100 projects will receive $10,000 in funding.

“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,” said Philip O. Geier, executive director of the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program. “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.”

Eichelberger, Schouboe, and Willis describe the Tibetan village and project this way:

“Mekou is a nomadic Tibetan village with approximately 100 families. Remotely located in Western China, the village is 385 kilometers from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province and one of China’s poorest. Mekou is not easily accessible due to poor roads and infrastructure; it is a nine-hour drive from Xining. Limited transportation routes, poor roads, and the high cost of cars in China make motorcycles and mopeds the primary mode of transportation in such rural areas. Villagers rely on them to take their children to school in most parts of Xinghai County, to go to markets to buy food and clothing, and to receive medical care.

“The motorcycle repair shop will provide extra income to villagers, make transportation easier and more reliable, and connect the village with surrounding communities. Although not all families choose to send their children to school, the project will give Mekou children who do attend school a more consistent means of getting to schoolhouses in faraway villages. By creating opportunities for education and economic gain, the project will promote peace by aiding integration of minorities into Chinese society.”

Davis Projects for Peace is open to partner schools in the Davis UWC Scholars Program plus students at International Houses Worldwide, Future Generations, and the Graduate Institute in Geneva to submit plans for grassroots projects for peace, to be implemented during the summer of 2010.

Lewis & Clark students have earned Projects for Peace grants each year since its inception in 2007.