Davis Projects for Peace announces Colgate recipient

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By: Hannah Tupper ’23

Senior Victoria Basulto has been awarded the 2021 Davis Projects for Peace fellowship providing $10,000 to promote peace through education and community building.

Basulto proposed her own project named “Black History in Upstate New York” during which she will digitize historical material and then help educate the Upstate region on the history of Black Americans in the area.

“The first component involves the process of digitizing material that both the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) and the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) have in their archives but do not have available online. This is an important part of the project, which attempts to make Black History more accessible by allowing scholars, educators, and students to have access to educational resources from anywhere in the world,” Basulto said. “The second component is the educational program itself titled Black History in Upstate New York. This will be a month-long virtual educational program that will incorporate material that was digitized in the previous month and interviews/presentations with local historians, curators at organizations belonging to the Underground Railroad Consortium of New York State, and local educators.”

After hearing from upperclassmen and department newsletters about the Davis Projects for Peace, Basulto became interested in having the opportunity to make tangible change right after graduation.

“I have often felt that we learn a great deal about the issues facing our world in our classes but don’t get an opportunity to take action until we enter the “real world” after graduation. Projects for Peace was an opportunity to forge a solution to a problem in the hope of promoting peace, thereby allowing us to not only learn about issues facing our communities but also work towards solving them,” she said. “It felt like an incredible opportunity to me, and I decided to combine my academic knowledge and multimedia skills to propose a project that would work towards promoting peace.”

A History and English double major, Basulto’s previous experience with NAHOF and GSENHL has been greatly influential and vital in her current collaboration with them. 

“I have been privileged to work with NAHOF and GSENHL this past semester through my internship with the Upstate Institute at Colgate. My collaboration with them was based on my desire to further their mission of combating racism in our country and the belief that my project would be the most successful by collaborating with existing organizations rather than starting from scratch,” she commented. “Given that both NAHOF and GSENHL regularly create educational programs, I felt that my project would fit in well with the kind of programming they already engage in while also helping them expand their online presence and virtual education.”

While Basulto will complete her Projects for Peace project this summer, she still plans to stay active in this type of work.

“I will be attending graduate school a few months after the conclusion of this project to continue my studies in history. However, I will remain a NAHOF volunteer and already have plans to work with them in the creation of the second Black History Matters program for February of 2022. I also plan on continuing to develop my skills in different multimedia platforms to help broaden the mediums through which students can learn history,” she added.

She also cites several experiences at, and through, Colgate that heave helped prepare her for this project.

“One experience that I found particularly helpful was my internship with an organization called Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) through the Manzi fellowship two summers ago. [Both] taught me about the world of non-profit organizations and the educational work they do. NAHOF and GSENHL are both nonprofit organizations, and I felt that my time with FHAO allowed me to be familiar with a lot of the inner workings of nonprofits,” she observed.

“I also attended a grant writing class hosted by the COVE my freshman year, and I learned a lot about the process of writing a narrative that could get a specific project funded. This was meant to be useful for writing grant proposals for nonprofits, but a lot of that information was also applicable for how I decided to write my Projects for Peace proposal.” 

Additionally, in 2020 Basulto was chosen to attend the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute (JSI), held at Princeton and hosted by the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. This selective summer program prepares students for graduate study and careers in public policy.

Basulto wanted to close with some encouraging advice for anyone interested in Projects for Peace.

“Don’t sell yourself short. It might be daunting to think of yourself creating and executing an entire project on your own, but there are always people willing to help you succeed. The Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships (ONFS) is a great resource. All you need is an idea and they will work with you to develop it and to help you to write the proposal. There is literally no reason not to give it a try,” she said. “We are our own worst critics and often don’t perform at our capacity because of self-doubt. However, you’ll surprise yourself by what you are able to accomplish so long as you allow yourself to be confident.”