Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Ten Years In

Message from Middlebury’s President Laurie L. Patton

I never had the privilege of meeting Kathryn Wasserman Davis. But every summer, I see her remarkable legacy in our Fellows for Peace. And every summer, I wish Kathryn were here to meet them.

If she were here, I would introduce Kathryn to Morven Brown, a police officer who uses her Arabic language skills to assist Syrian refugees as they rebuild their lives in Scotland.

I would also have her meet Stephanie Breitsman, a School of Hebrew student who helps American policy makers advance a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And I would ask Kathryn to spend a few minutes with Mikael Owunna, a photographer and artist who uses his images to depict new realities for marginalized communities in French-speaking African countries.

If Kathryn Wasserman Davis were here, I would introduce her to our Fellows for Peace—not only so she could see firsthand what she has achieved through her vision and generosity, but also so they could be further inspired by the remarkable woman who has shaped their lives.

In a world of enmity and aggression, Kathryn Davis believed communication was essential to freedom and democracy, to resolving conflict and ensuring human rights, and to alleviating human suffering. Knowing a peaceful tomorrow could never be realized through violent means, she mobilized a legion of activists and enlisted their power of language to reach across differences and build coalitions.

The result has been profound and far-reaching.

For 12 years, a pathway to peace has stretched from Middlebury Language Schools to the far corners of our globe. More than 1,000 Fellows for Peace are working today in every field imaginable, making our world more just, tolerant, and humane.

In life and death, Kathryn Davis has been a force of power. And if she were here today, I would say thank you—for teaching us to act boldly, to set ambitious goals, and to never forget that a single act of goodwill can make a world of difference.