By Abraham Kettor ’19
In his famous inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” So, as a native of the Republic of Liberia, West Africa, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go back to my home country with the hope of inspiring other youths to take on peace initiatives and to seek higher education. Of course, this decision wasn’t easy. However, I was prompted to take on this challenge because I have experienced the horror brought on by Civil Wars in Liberia. As a result, I have developed a unique perspective towards life, which inspired me to focus on spreading awareness about love, peace, unity and hope instead of war, hate, intolerance and tribal discrimination. Therefore, when I learned about the Davis Projects for Peace, I knew it would be an exceptional platform for me to step out of my comfort zone.
Liberia is a melting pot of race and culture. But, the country has suffered a prolonged, brutal and destructive period of civil unrest, and continues to endure corruption within the government. Such problems have weakened the educational system, and have put many students at an increased risk of dropping out of high school because they have no motivation or desire to go to college. So, to help address this problem, I decided to work with 25 high school students for five weeks at the Muslim Congress High School.
While I was in Liberia, I helped the school to renovate a designated room for a library. The library serves as a symbol of peace; making it the first library dedicated to peace in Liberia. Next, we took few field trips to places like Ministry of Education, and United Methodist University (UMU.) In addition, several guest speakers who are positively contributing to the country were invited to inspire the students to take on peace initiatives. At the conclusion of the five-week program, I awarded Ambassador for Peace certificates to the students with the hope that they will use them as a platform for maintaining peace in Liberia.
In spite of the mosquito bites, getting out of my comfort zone and implementing a successful peace project was definitely worthwhile. I woke up every morning feeling happier about my time spent in Liberia, and I got this amazing feeling that I have helped young individuals to find inner peace within, as well as inspire them to take on a peace initiative that would further enhance their communities, schools and Liberia at large. It’s an indescribable feeling that I will never forget. I strongly encourage anyone who has a deep commitment to peaceful change, and a willingness to get out of his or her comfort zone to apply for the Davis Peace Projects. You’ll gain self-satisfaction, and your experience will forever humble you, as it did for me.
The Davis Project for Peace, created by Kathryn Wasserman Davis in 2007, is a program design for undergraduates to develop and implement a grassroots project to build peace in not only America but around the world.
If you have a fantastic idea that could bring more peace to the world, you should definitely give this program a try!