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2nd Runner-Up

Maria A. Davis
Duke University

two men on a small boatTraveling through Myanmar, in South East Asia, during my graduate program in Public Health was a life changing experience. Like this beautiful water at Inle Lake, the people are extraordinarily gentle and kind, certainly a result of the very strong Buddhist traditions in their country.

But beneath this smooth stillness are ripples of fear: fear of talking to strangers and fear of government spies lurking everywhere, because the government is a repressive junta regime and the people know that they can be jailed or tortured for speaking out in any way against it.

While in Myanmar, I learned many lessons about stillness, patience, and taking the time to understand a culture and it’s history. Learning about the many human rights abuses occurring in places like Myanmar affected me deeply, and inspired me to pursue a path of humanitarian work.

This summer, I will be completing a program through Duke University focusing on Humanitarian Assistance and Human Rights, which includes an internship in Geneva, Switzerland. It is my hope that this scholarship can help me pursue my dreams of creating a more just society for the people who need it most.