Senior DeVon Mosley '09 will be in his hometown of Desoto, Texas. Through sports clinics, music lessons, and time and stress management workshops, Mosley's Desoto Peace Project aims to motivate at-risk youth to stay in school and resist gang membership.
"The project helps them to become productive citizens and leaders in society by teaching them that gangs and drugs are not the way to go, that there are much better alternatives," Mosley says, noting that he was frequently pressured to engage in gang-related activities. He recounts a "gang-inspired melee" at his high school, which caused a school-wide lockdown and the suspension of all classes.
"As a middle school student, I often witnessed drugs, violence, and gang fights. But by using basketball and music as positive outlets, I was able graduate from high school and go on to attend Dartmouth. I want to create the same opportunity for other students from this area.”
Mahmud Johnson '13 of Monrovia, Liberia, will also travel back to his hometown, to work with boys age 13-16. Liberia, currently recovering from a devastating civil war, lacks constructive outlets for this demographic. Johnson says many observers fear these young men will join the growing ranks of bandits. Through educational and recreational activities, the program, iMHere!, promotes education and aims to help boys get into and stay in school.
"Post-conflict Liberian youth are in a dire need of educational opportunities, and the country itself is highly under-resourced in qualified human capital, due to emigration during the war," Johnson says. "iMHere! will provide youth with the resources to improve their lives through education, and, in the near future, contribute positively to the reconstruction and growth of Liberia."
Johnson presented the iMHere! project at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on May 6. He is a member of the British Council's Global Changemakers network and was one of five Global Changemakers, four of whom are students, selected to present.
"Presenting my project at the World Economic Forum was a wonderful opportunity for me to share my ideas and passion with world leaders," Johnson says. "I got a chance to meet stakeholders in the African educational sector. Their ideas and support have helped me expand the scope of the project to great lengths that I had not thought of before."
Mosley and Johnson join five other Dartmouth students recognized with Projects for Peace grants in the past three years.