Moni Ayoub ’19, left, and Anđela Rončević ’19, are the recipients of a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from the Davis United World Scholars Program. The pair will travel to Barsa, Lebanon to create a recycling program.Moni Ayoub ’19, left, and Anđela Rončević ’19, are the recipients of a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from the Davis United World Scholars Program. The pair will travel to Barsa, Lebanon to create a recycling program.

Anđela Rončević  ’19 and Moni Ayoub ’19 share a vision of creating a cleaner, more environmentally friendly world. Friends since high school, the pair have long held interests in sustainability issues and have sought ways to channel these interests into meaningful change.

This summer, Rončević and Ayoub will have the chance to put their thoughts into action, as they delve into a sustainability project funded by a $10,000 award from the Projects for Peace initiative.

Soon after the end of the school year, Rončević and Ayoub will travel to Ayoub’s hometown of Barsa, Lebanon to create a town-wide recycling system where currently there is none. Their aim is to help solve a mounting trash crisis in the region and, over the long term, make Barsa the first zero-waste town in Lebanon and a leader in resource management.

“With this project we want to create a positive relationship between people and discarded resources and create solutions that will generate social, economic, and environmental sustainability,” the pair wrote in their proposal. “Now with the crisis in the district of Beirut, garbage is transported to the landfills located in the north of Lebanon. Should we wait for another landfill to exceed its capacity and cause another crisis? No, we must act now.”

Annual competition

Set up by late philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, Projects for Peace holds an annual competition open to partner schools of the Davis United World College Scholars Program to create projects that will help shape a better world. The program is meant to encourage student initiative, innovation, and entrepreneurship focusing on conflict prevention, resolution or reconciliation, and to create building blocks for sustaining, global peace.

“Working with waste issues teaches you so much about how faceless waste can be” - Anđela Rončević  ’19.

Ayoub and Rončević are well prepared for the project and ably represent the spirit of the initiative, said COA writing professor Anne Kozak, the chair of COA’s Projects for Peace nominating committee.

“In nominating applicants, the committee looks for commitment to and enthusiasm for the project and at how the applicants envision their project as a way of furthering peace—Kathryn Davis’ goal in initiating the Projects for Peace,” Kozak said. “Moni and Anđela did their homework and laid the groundwork for successfully implementing this project. They sought backing from the village, received permission to use a local church as a gathering place, and found avenues and distribution points for recycling. They are committed and excited, and we feel they will fulfill Mrs. Davis’s goal of advancing peace.”

Creating positive change

For Ayoub, bringing this project to her hometown is both political and personal. She is committed to making positive global changes, while also looking forward to acting locally, in a place that she yearns to improve.

“I always had a dream that I wanted to be able to look out of my window and find recycling bins, and I always dreamt that someone would come do that for my village. Now, I want to be that person to do it,” she said.

Rončević, who is from Zadar, Croatia, has been working with COA’s discarded resources team on recycling and zero waste initiatives since arriving at school in the fall. She has been fascinated by the subject and felt a growing need to put her energy behind making a difference, she said.

A mounting trash crisis Lebanon clogs a Beirut road with garbage.A mounting trash crisis Lebanon clogs a Beirut road with garbage. Credit: CNN“Working with waste issues teaches you so much about how faceless waste can be,” she said. “You usually think that your needs are just to eat, have shelter, and have friends. Waste management as a right of nature and the right of a human being is often neglected.”

An international community of scholars

Ayoub and Rončević have been friends since they were students together at United World College (UWC) of the Adriatic, in Duino, Italy. UWC is a global educational movement that brings together students from all over the world with the aim to foster peace and international understanding. UWC students study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, a two-year internationally recognized pre-university program.

Both students came to COA through the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which over the past 15 years has brought thousands of international students to colleges and universities in the U.S. with the goal of fostering international understanding and creating positive change in the world.

COA was among the very first American colleges to partner with the Davis UWC program, and the diversification of and cultural benefits to the school community have been tremendous, said COA president Darron Collins.

“We are proud and excited to have these students selected for the 2016 Projects for Peace initiative,” Collins said. “The vision of Kathryn W. Davis to create a more peaceful world is one that we all can aspire to, and Anđela and Moni will help realize that vision with their work in Barsa.”

Rončević and Ayoub will travel to Lebanon this June to begin their project. The pair wished to thank the COA community for supporting them in their work, including MPhil candidate Lisa Bjerke ’16, Galen Hecht ’16, Kozak, and history and policy professor Gray Cox.