June 01, 2012

Teresa Brugarolas: Davis Peace and Diplomacy Grant Recipient

IHP Resident Awarded Grant for Davis Peace Project
We are so proud of each and every one of our residents at International House Philadelphia and of all the wonderful achievements and engaging projects they take on. This year, we are particularly excited to share the story of Teresa Brugarolas, a Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania. Teresa came to IHP three years ago from Spain, after an enthusiastic recommendation from her brother (a former IH Chicago resident). In her words, “…it has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. It has taught me to appreciate the richness of diversity, to learn from and respect other cultures, and to make lifelong friends from almost every nation in the world.” This year, Teresa was awarded the competitive Davis Projects for Peace award. She received $10,000 in support of her project, Building Peace through Music and Dance, which was completed this June. Her project aimed to “spread the word that…global peace starts in our own community”.

A little background on the Davis Projects for Peace: When the international philanthropist (and International House New York alumna) Kathryn W. Davis turned 100 years old in 2007, she chose to celebrate this milestone by committing $1 million each year to Projects for Peace for an undetermined period of time. Now 106 years old, Ms. Davis continues to support and encourage today’s motivated youth to create and tryout their own ideas for building peace, awarding students the opportunity to design grassroots projects anywhere in the world that promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties.

We recently sat down to talk with Teresa about her project, her inspiration, and her hopes for Building Peace through Music and Dance. She rightly expressed that music is an international culture, capable of breaking down boundaries and transcending traditional language. After one of her regular visits to an orchestra performance, she realized that everyone kept coming back because “music really is an international language that unites people from different times, ages, cultures, and backgrounds.” Building Peace through Music and Dance was built on this experience. It was divided into four ‘sessions’ and involved Philadelpha high-school students, as well as resident leaders from International House, in order to lend a “multi-cultural perspective” to the group.

Over three days at IHP, workshops were held which addressed the themes of ‘Unity’, ‘Communication through Listening’, and ‘Communication through Expression.’ As a group, they attended a Philadelphia Orchestra performance and afterwards met with the musicians for a personal discussion. They also had a special presentation by a professor from the Music Department at UPenn who spoke about how music has been used for communication throughout history. The project culminated with a choreographed, surprise public dance performance. Building Peace through Music and Dance highlighted to both its participants and the general public that it does not matter what walk of life you come from, what language you speak, whether you are young or old, music and dance will always be a source of energy, life and fun, and a unifying voice between people of all nations. As put perfectly by Teresa, “music unites people at the same time, in the same place”.