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Two Colby College sophomores have been awarded a prestigious Davis Projects for Peace grant to create a documentary about environmental activism in China—another example of how Colby students connect their liberal arts education to world challenges. Lijie (Reggie) Huang ’19 and Long Yung (Grace) Yu ’19 will spend this summer exploring the conflicts and challenges of a Chinese organization opposing government land reclamation efforts.
Empowering Environmental Activism Through a Documentary was one of 120 student projects to receive 2017 Projects for Peace funding. The film will focus on a Chinese non-governmental organization, the CrossBorder Environment Concern Association (CECA), and its founder, Hanyang (Johnny) Wei. Wei’s group focuses on environmental impact research, advocacy related to land reclamation projects, and ocean biodiversity at the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China.
“Competition is keen and we congratulate those students whose projects have been selected for funding in 2017,” said Philip O. Geier, executive director of the Davis United World College Scholars Program that administers Projects for Peace. “We are pleased to once again help young people launch some initiatives that will bring new energy and ideas to improving the prospects for peace in the world.”
Huang and Yu are both environmental policy majors with minors in cinema studies.
“I’m very grateful for this exciting opportunity to blend my passions for filmmaking and environmental studies,” said Yu, who is from Hong Kong.
Huang, who is from Dongying, China, said the Projects for Peace award offers an incredible opportunity.
“It will help me to combine my enthusiasm for environmental activism with my beliefs in the power of documentary storytelling and grassroots initiatives,” he said.
Little is known about the impact of environmental activism and non-governmental organizations in China. In 2015 a new law paved the way for NGOs to file suit over activities that degrade the environment, and these organizations have become a new tool for citizens to protect their environment through civic engagement.
In 2016 Colby student Benard Kibet ’18 won his second Davis prize, using it to bring running water to his home community of Tinet, Kenya. It was Kibet’s second prize; the previous year he helped build a primary school in the community. Kibet’s 2016 project is chronicled in the Colby Magazine film Maji.
Projects for Peace is an initiative open to all students at the partner schools of the Davis UWC Scholars Program. Students design summer projects to promote peace and address the root causes of conflict. Applicants are encouraged to be creative in their project design and to use innovative techniques that focus on conflict resolution, reconciliation, building understanding, breaking down barriers that cause conflict, and to find solutions for resolving conflict and maintaining peace. Through a competition on more than 94 campuses, selected projects each receive $10,000 in funding.
In 2007 Projects for Peace was the vision of philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Until her death at 106 in 2013, Mrs. Davis was intent on advancing the cause of peace and sought to motivate tomorrow’s promising leaders by challenging them to find ways to “prepare for peace.”
For more information on Projects for Peace, see davisprojectsforpeace.org.