Sarah Nieburg '15
Randolph-Macon College was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the Davis United World College Scholars program. The grant will be used to support a Davis Projects for Peace initiative that was created by Sarah Nieburg ’15, an international studies and sociology/anthropology major and political science minor.
Nieburg will travel to Ghana this summer to implement her project, Playing for Peace: The Use of Soccer As A Gender Empowerment Tool in a Post-Conflict Society.
The ProjectBetween 1990 and 2002, the northern region of Ghana went through cycles of conflict and violence between ethnic groups over land and power disputes. Due to the conflict and unrest, the northern region has fallen behind in socio-economic development in comparison with the rest of the country. Ghana is in a relatively stable and peaceful state, but, like many post-conflict societies, the people are still dealing with the mental, physical, and emotional trauma brought on by this violence, as well as the economic loss that has resulted. "My project involves starting a women’s soccer program for ages 12-22,” says Nieburg, who will partner with Right to Play, an organization that provides sports opportunities to children and young adults affected by conflict. Nieburg, a member of the R-MC soccer team, is accepting donations of soccer equipment and clothing, which she will take with her this summer. For more information, contact her at SarahNieburg@go.rmc.edu.
In Ghana, Nieburg and Right to Play volunteers will organize soccer teams, schedule practice sessions, help construct a poultry house, and host a soccer tournament.
“The teams will practice, hold meetings about gender empowerment, and receive psychosocial support,” says Nieburg. “Once the poultry house is built, players will sell poultry products in order to pay for sports gear or to enroll in classes in a nearby school. It is my hope that the Playing for Peace project will really effect change.”
MentorshipSeveral months ago, Nieburg discussed the project proposal with her advisor, Sociology/Anthropology Professor Scott London, and she received guidance from the staff in the Dean of Students office.
“I am grateful to them, and to my soccer teammates and coaches, James Woods and Katherine Gebhard, for their support,” she says.Head Soccer Coach James Woods lauds Nieburg’s enthusiasm for all that she takes on.
“Sarah has been a dedicated member of our soccer team for the past three years,” he says. “Her recent study abroad experience in Uganda inspired her Playing for Peace project. It is impressive to see how she has taken her passion for soccer and will use it in a tangible way to make the world a better place through her time in Ghana. She is truly the embodiment of the Randolph-Macon student-athlete.”
“Her boldness in applying, her effectiveness in proposing a meaningful project, and her success in obtaining the funding to make a lasting difference in this small West African nation are all wonderfully impressive, to say the least,” says London. “I hope that Sarah’s success will inspire other R-MC students.”
Making a Difference“I want my classmates to realize that though none of this is easy,” says Nieburg, “but helping others to create a better life is one of the greatest experiences any human being can have. By giving to others, I’m getting back the satisfaction that I have the power to make a difference, and that’s the greatest reward of all.”
Nieburg, the recipient of R-MC’s signature Presidential Award scholarship, hopes to eventually work for either the United States Agency for International Development or for the United Nations.
The Projects for Peace ProgramCollege students across the country were challenged to design and undertake “Projects for Peace” around the world, thanks to philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis. The 106-year-old Davis launched Projects for Peace on her 100th birthday and has renewed her commitment every year since. In 2013, more than $1.20 million was awarded in $10,000 grants to students submitting the winning proposals for projects.
Undergraduates at 90 partner schools of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, as well as those at International Houses Worldwide, Future Generations, the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the University of Maine are invited annually to submit plans for Projects for Peace. Winning proposals selected from competitions at all these campuses are funded through Davis’ generosity.
In 2011, R-MC students created “Arts for Change Today (A.C.T.),” a summer camp that was funded by the Projects for Peace Program. In 2013, R-MC students created “A Spark of Hope for Peace,” also funded by the Projects for Peace Program.