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Two W&L Students Awarded Projects for Peace Grants Julienne de Vastey '23 and Jamal Magoti '23 have won a Davis Projects for Peace grant for their project "Tokomeza Kata Kimeo."

Julienne de Vastey ’23 and Jamal Magoti ’23 have won a Davis Projects for Peace grant for their project “Tokomeza Kata Kimeo,” which translates to “Eradicate Uvulectomies.”

The students are planning to work with Tanzania Rural Health Movement (THRM), a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Mwanza, to raise awareness on the occurrences and effects of traditional uvulectomies. The traditional uvulectomy is a procedure in which a child’s uvula, a fleshy extension at the back of the soft palate which hangs above the throat, is cut or removed, often due to the belief that the procedure will cure illness.

“We chose the topic of uvulectomies because of how the procedure can cause infection, and also how it can delay medical care for the original illness,” de Vastey said. “Our project focuses on reaching out to local communities and families, as well as forming connections with other NGOs and governmental organizations in Tanzania.”

Because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Tanzania, their project will likely be virtual. The students have worked closely with the THRM and W&L’s Center for International Education to develop a plan to conduct their research from the U.S.

Jillian Murphy, study abroad coordinator at W&L, continues to work with the student team as they prepare to complete their project virtually.

“The students have demonstrated tremendous resilience in reformulating their projects to account for COVID safety measures,” said Murphy. “I can only imagine how this flexibility and commitment to problem-solving will serve them as future peacebuilders.”

De Vastey credits W&L in helping to prepare her for the work ahead.

“W&L encourages lifelong learning,” de Vastey said. “This perspective of understanding the scope of what we do not know will help us gain the most out of this experience. I feel extremely privileged to play a part in alleviating some of the effects of uvulectomies and to be able to learn about the issues facing families a continent away.”

Mark Rush, director of international education and Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law, also worked with and supported the student team as they planned their project.

“Collaborating with the United World Colleges and Davis Projects for Peace program enables W&L to promote and foster meaningful projects that have a clear and positive impact across the globe,” Rush said. “This is manifest in the work that Jamal and Julienne will undertake. The diversity in substance and scope of our students’ projects is testament to the multifaceted nature of the concept of peace and the many manners in which peace can be pursued. It is humbling and heartwarming to play a role in this process and to work with our students as they conceive and craft project proposals. Working with such thoughtful, passionate students and the Projects for Peace program demonstrates that hope for the future endures.”

As a partner school of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, W&L is eligible to receive Davis Projects for Peace grants. The program is funded by the late Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who established it on her 100th birthday in 2007 to challenge young people to plant seeds of peace throughout the world with innovative projects. At least one Washington and Lee student has won a Davis grant each year since the award’s inception.

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