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Global Citizens

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Mehrel and Mensah go abroad with Projects for Peace

Dartmouth boasts more than 40 formal foreign study programs, and more than 600 students each year take advantage of those opportunities. The Tucker Foundation, the Dickey Center for International Understanding, and the Rockefeller Center offer additional international internships and foreign exchange programs. Taken together, through these programs, more than half of the students in each graduating class have been abroad studying or working during their Dartmouth careers.

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Emmanuel Mensah ’09 (front row, second from left) with participants at a leadership seminar in Ghana. (Photo courtesy Emmanuel Mensah ’09)

That statistic might be underreported, though. Some students find their own ways to experience different countries and cultures through a variety of national sponsors or grants. For example, Emmanuel Mensah and Lilian Mehrel, both members of the Class of 2009, were chosen by the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program in its second annual Projects for Peace initiative.

Last summer, both students traveled abroad to pursue their projects. Mensah's project took him to Ghana, while Mehrel went to Jerusalem.

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Lilian Mehrel '09 (right) with a teenager at the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine, where she worked with the campers to create documentary films. (Photo courtesy Lilian Mehrel '09)

Mensah worked with the Ghana Youth Leadership Alliance, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization he co-founded, to empower youth to become leaders in the fields their country needs most. He spent the summer participating in leadership conferences, work that he began the previous year on a fellowship from Dartmouth's Tucker Foundation. Mensah is able to broaden his outreach through partnerships with different groups and with funding from a variety of awards and grants. "What drives me is the belief that we, the youth, can make a difference in our communities and help the less privileged," he says.

In Jerusalem, Mehrel spent time with Jewish Israeli, Arab Israeli, and Palestinian teenagers who were campers at the Seeds of Peace International Camp. Mehrel worked with the teenagers helping them create their own short documentary films. Each participant received a video camera, which they will keep for the next year to continue to make films. "If young people are given the chance to express themselves to one another, they might see themselves in the other," she says. "They might grow up to keep making peace in these concentric circles, so that the small spheres of peace will gradually spread into one all-encompassing peace."

The highly competitive honor was created to empower college students to pursue grassroots projects that promote crosscultural peace and understanding. Only students attending a Davis UWC participatin school (there are 87 total) can apply for funding. Dartmouth boasts five Peace Prize recipients, representing four projects, two for each year that the award has been granted. Each student received $10,000 to complete his or her project.

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 10/15/08