Projects for Peace winners
Of the 100 Davis Projects for Peace chosen in 2011, two belong to Sulaiman Nasseri ’12 and Tamer Hassan ’11, who will each receive $10,000 grants to continue their work.
The Projects for Peace initiative began in 2007, when it was started by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis to celebrate her 100th birthday. Davis was so impressed by the results during the first year that the initiative has continued now into its fourth year. She encourages students “to design and implement innovative techniques that focus on conflict resolution, reconciliation, building understanding and breaking down barriers that cause conflict,” according to the College’s website.
Nasseri formed the idea for his project when, as a sophomore reading Gandhi’s My Experiment with Truth, he came upon the line, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” This inspired him to address poverty in his native country of Afghanistan.
Nasseri’s project seeks to empower women in Afghanistan by teaching them how to embroider, giving them a means to make money and to bring themselves out of poverty. Nasseri hopes this source of income will help Afghan women become independent of their male relatives and will also go towards their children’s education.
He hopes the long-term results of economic independence and improved educational opportunities for children due to the income generated by embroidery will “decrease gender inequalities, boost respect for women and combat domestic violence against the Afghan women. [Educated] children and women with equal rights as men have a direct impact on human capital and the Afghan society that could be used for building a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.
Hassan’s project involves continuing his work on a documentary series about “intentional communities” in the United States. Intentional communities hold communitarian values as the guiding principles in living practices, providing alternative systems of interaction, both interpersonally and on a larger scale. He will continue his work alongside Armand Tufenkian ’10 with whom he has already assembled two short documentaries about the communities of Twin Oaks, VA and Earthaven Ecovillage, NC. Both Hassan and Tufenkian will travel to Seattle over the summer to shoot footage at the Emma Goldman Finishing School.
The films are designed to raise awareness of alternative and sustainable models for “peaceful and resilient communities,” Hassan said. The lesson he wants viewers to take away from the Twin Oaks and Earthaven communities is the idea of “developing a culture of peace [by] rethinking the ways we relate to other people, the way we structure our economic system, the way we work [and] the way we live on a daily basis.”