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Bard Students Win Two 2014 Davis Projects For Peace Awards

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
Bard student and Davis Projects for Peace Prize winner Zelda Bas ’16 (from Paris, France) teaching in Mas’ha in the West Bank through the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI).
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College students have won two 2014 Davis Projects for Peace Awards, which provide $10,000 in funding for proposed projects. Environmental and urban studies major Lia Soorenian ’14 (from Glendale, California), won a Davis award for her project, “Sustainable Apiculture: Community Empowerment Through Local Economies.” She will travel to the village of Lichke in Armenia, where mining is the primary industry, to promote sustainable development through beekeeping. “The goal of this initiative would be to give the residents of Lichke another option to mining,” explains Soorenian. “If the village begins a honey-producing business, then its residents will have a concrete economic resource. By creating local economies through apiculture, the residents will not only build a stronger community, but they will also be empowered to prevent future conflict that might arise in their village due to mining. Furthermore, the process of apiculture is not a threat to human health. The residents will have an alternative career path that proves to be safe and secure.”

Computer science major Ameer Shalabi ’16 (from Mas’ha in the West Bank), political studies major Zelda Bas ’16 (from Paris, France), and literature and written arts major Harrison Liddle ’14 (from Miami, Florida) have together won a Davis award in support of the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI). An entirely student-run organization, BPYI was founded in 2008 with the belief that constructive civil engagement, cultural exchange, and education are fundamental means to changing the situation on the ground in Palestine. By working in collaboration with the people of Mas’ha, a small village in the West Bank, BPYI hopes to create a nonpolitical, action-oriented program with the goal of connecting Palestine with Bard College and its surrounding area. Every year, 20 Bard College students travel to Mas’ha, where they partner with the local community to run children’s summer camps and community service projects, teach English classes, and engage in cultural discourse. BPYI established the only public children’s library in the Palestinian territories, which opened with a ceremony in August 2010, attended by members of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and the governor of Sulfite Province. In 2011, with the help of the Davis Peace Grant, BPYI built the first playground in the village of Mas’ha. In 2012, BPYI began building a youth center for the village. This summer, the awardees will use the Davis Projects for Peace funds to return to Mas’ha and continue their good works there (including tree plantings, waste disposal management, development of a family park, and a computer classroom).

Projects for Peace is funded by the Davis family to honor Kathryn W. Davis, who died in April 2013 at the age of 106. A lifelong internationalist and philanthropist who earned a B.A. from Wellesley College, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Geneva, she was the mother of Shelby M. C. Davis, who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program currently involving 90 American colleges and universities. Kathryn Davis believed that today’s youth—tomorrow’s leaders—ought to be challenged to formulate and test their own ideas. For further information, visit



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This event was last updated on 04-08-2014