Saif Al Saudi (IHP resident, Iraq), wants to help bring peace and understanding to his war-torn country. He is thousands of miles away from Iraq but thoughts about his homeland are always close to his heart.
“I come from a country that is living through a war against terrorism,” said Saif, a 29-year-old student who moved to International House Philadelphia in April 2014.
Saif was working as a pharmacist in the Iraqi city of Fallujah before he came to the United States to further his education. He says one reason for the violence in Iraq is the problem of “misunderstanding and miscommunication between people,” so he wants to do something to change that. Now he has a chance.
Saif has received a 2015 Davis Projects for Peace grant for a project that he hopes will bring people of all nationalities closer together in building a better understanding between peoples. Using the $10,000 grant, he will create a video that he plans to post on Facebook and social media. His goal is to reach thousands of people in Iraq and around the world with a message of peace and understanding.
His video will feature international students from IHP. The students will each hold the flag of their own country in one hand and the Iraqi flag in the other hand.
“They will deliver a message about how people can be different and still live together in one country peacefully,” said Saif, who plans to feature an Iraqi peace song that will be performed by popular Iraqi rock band.
Saif, who came to Philadelphia to pursue his Master’s degree in Business Administration at Drexel University, plans to advertise the video and track the number of shares and views it generates. He will begin production this summer and expects to shoot the video in Philadelphia and Virginia.
As a resident advisor at IHP, Saif learned about Davis Projects for Peace last fall when the RA staff organized an orientation about the opportunity. He decided to apply for the grant and began working closely with Glenn Martin, IHP’s Chief Operating Officer, to complete the application process and his proposal by January 2015. He was excited to learn in March 2015 that his proposal had been approved for a coveted grant.
Projects for Peace is open to students living at International Houses around the world and to students at partner schools in the Davis United World College Scholars Program. Grant recipients design their own grassroots projects to promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties. Kathryn W. Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist, created Projects for Peace. She and her husband, Ambassador Shelby Cullom Davis, both lived at International House New York while attending Columbia University in 1929-30.
Mrs. Davis died in 2013 at 106 years of age, but her legacy lives on through students like Saif and their projects.
“I’ve learned so much at International House, which brings different people together,” Saif concluded. “I hope my video will have a positive effect on everybody who watches it, especially Iraqis. When a conversation starts, I believe peace can start.”
For more information, visit davisprojectsforpeace.org