Student Projects Emphasize Sustainability, Interfaith Harmony, and Cultural Heritage

CUGS Hosts Grant Recipients Who Implemented Their Projects Around the World

Jake Villareal ’16 and Nico Nagle ’17 produced a documentary to accompany their project.
Hartford, Connecticut, March 16, 2017 – Trinity College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) recently hosted student presentations as part of the spring 2017 Global Vantage Point Series. The common hour event on February 28 began with a presentation by Jake Villareal ’16 and Nico Nagle ’17 and was followed by presentations by Noor Malik ’18 and Aashwin Basnet ’19. The talks showcased grant-funded projects the students developed during spring 2016 and implemented over summer 2016.

Villareal and Nagle, whose project, “Growing Community Through Gardening,” was awarded a Projects for Peace grant from the Davis United World College Scholars Program, described their partnership with the Local Urban Gardeners of Salinas, California, a community organization that promotes small-scale sustainable agriculture to increase nutrition, health, wellness, and community in the area. Villareal and Nagle helped to maintain the organization’s existing community garden and used their project funding to construct a children’s garden, which will be used to educate young people about urban agriculture. The project addressed a critical need in the area; although Salinas is known as “the Salad Bowl” because of its vast agricultural lands, the residents of the city live in a “food desert” and lack reliable access to affordable nutrition. Nagle and Villareal also produced a short documentary in which they interviewed local activists and experts involved in the sustainable agriculture movement in Salinas. This documentary will be used to educate future gardeners and is available online here.

Noor Malik ’18
Malik’s project, “Interfaith Harmony in Pakistan, Part II,” was a continuation of a 2015 Projects for Peace grant project in which she sought to mitigate discrimination directed toward non-Muslim religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan. In the summer of 2015, Malik organized a five-day Interfaith Harmony Camp for children in Pakistan designed to promote dialogue among Pakistani youths about interfaith awareness. This past summer, Malik continued her work with the support of the Tanaka Student Research Fund and the Grossman Global Fund to conduct interviews in Pakistan and to gather information about the discrimination that many faith-based communities face.


​Aashwin Basnet ’19
Basnet’s project, “Confronting the Aftermath of Natural Disasters in Nepal,” studied how cultural and religious practices were affected by the 2015 Kathmandu valley earthquakes in Nepal. Basnet received a grant from the Tanaka Student Research Fund to examine the progress of restorations and renovations on Nepalese cultural heritage sites following damage from the earthquakes and what preparations, if any, are being put in place for future emergencies. He also sought to understand whether the earthquakes had brought changes to the religious perspective of people in affected communities. Over the course of his time in Nepal during summer 2016, he partnered with a Hamilton College student to conduct a poetry workshop designed to promote psychological healing for young people – many of whom were orphaned after the earthquakes – and provided writing materials to children from poor families.

It was recently announced that Kabelo Motsoeneng ’20 has been awarded a Projects for Peace grant for the project, Gender Agenda Forum: Localizing Feminist Dialogues in Low-Income Communities in South Africa, to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2017. According to Motsoenengs project outline, The Gender Agenda Forum (GAF) aims to localize critical feminist thought and action by bridging the existing information access gap in low-income communities in South Africa. Through targeted workshops, the forum will address systematic and patriarchal violence therefore contributing to the peace.

The Global Vantage Point Series continued on March 7 with presentations by Chris Lora ’17, Tenzin Paljor ’19, and Heidy Xie ’18. On March 21, Luce Visiting Scholar Na Fu will present “Urban Village Redevelopment and the Dislocation of Low-Income Renters: The Case of Gangxia, Baishizhou, and Daweifang in Shenzhen, China.” A special symposium called “Engaging the Urban in the Liberal Arts” will be held at the Smith House on Saturday, April 1, followed on April 3 and 4 by an international symposium, “Urban Sustainability in Asia: Many Dimensions, Multiple Disciplines, and Diverse Approaches,” supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. The series will conclude April 18 with a presentation by Assistant Professor of American Studies Jack Gieseking called “A Queer New York: The Supposed LGBTQ Gentrification of Greenwich Village.”

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17

Photos by Andrew J. Concatelli