Category Archives: Announcement Posts

Banaa Hosts Third Summer Summit

Earlier this month, three of the Banaa scholars were reunited in Washington, D.C. for a few days of workshops at our Third Summer Summit. Two of our scholars from the University of Rochester, Sameer Kuku Kafur and Salva Kuac Barjok, had the opportunity to meet up once again with their fellow scholar, Jacob Mator Aketch from The George Washington University for an exciting three days of stimulating discussions.

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The summit began on August 6th with a workshop at The Enough Project, where the scholars were able to learn more about The Enough Project’s efforts to build peace and end crimes against humanity in and around Sudan and South Sudan. The scholars eagerly engaged the staff by asking questions about how they expect to see Sudan and South Sudan change in the upcoming years and were able to learn how non-profit organizations like The Enough Project are able to make positive impacts in the development of the Sudans.

Later that day, the scholars met with Jonas Claes, the Senior Program Officer for the Center for Applied Research on Conflict (ARC) at the United States Institute of Peace. Claes gave presentations on the Responsibility to Protect, a norm stating that states are responsible for protecting their citizens from mass atrocities, as well as on election violence across a variety of nations. The scholars particularly enjoyed this workshop, with Jacob commenting that he was grateful to have this opportunity to learn about subjects that are not often brought up in his typical civil engineering coursework.

On the second day, the scholars explored exhibits at the National Museum of American History before heading over to the Department of State for an incredible workshop in the Office of the Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. While there, the scholars had the opportunity to speak with the ambassador to South Sudan, Susan D. Page as well as the Senior Sudan and South Sudan Desk Officers, Breanna Green and Sean Cely. Everyone involved had a great, informative time through thought-provoking discussions between the scholars and the U.S. government’s leading experts on Sudan and South Sudan. The scholars and the office staff all learned from each other as the scholars asked questions regarding sanctions and the role of the Special Envoy’s office, and the Desk Officers asked the scholars about what they think is the most important thing for the office to know about the Sudanese and South Sudanese people.

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For the final day of the summit, Eve Gray of Banaa’s Board of Advisors hosted a workshop for the scholars with a focus on networking. The scholars practiced introductory conversations that they can use at networking events in order to connect more easily with people who have similar interests to them. In fact, the workshop was so successful that the scholars were able to talk and exchange business cards with a Sudanese person that they saw while walking to lunch just ten minutes after Eve’s workshop had finished!


Once the final workshop was completed, the scholars enjoyed a final wrap-up lunch with friends, members of Banaa’s Board of Advisors, and alumni of the Banaa student organization. The summit ended with the scholars feeling grateful for both the opportunity to reconnect with each other and the Banaa staff as well as for the intriguing workshops they were able to participate in. We wish the scholars the best of luck as they continue their studies and their work, and we cannot wait for next year’s summit!

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Mike Salvatore

Banaa Staff

George Washington University Class of 2018

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Banaa Scholar graduates from University of Rochester

The GW Banaa Team is proud to congratulate one of our first Banaa scholars, Mohamed Ahmed for recently graduating from the University of Rochester with a double major in Financial Economics and Political Science.


Mo is pictured here with Eve Gray, a former volunteer of the Banaa scholarship, who attended Mo’s graduation. In her own article about Mo, she writes: “I feel very privileged that I got to attend Mo’s graduation and support him while he earned an education from Rochester. I hope this will open many doors for him, not just to get a career and support himself and his family, but also to be a voice for people in Darfur.”

Mohamed, or “Mo” is from Darfur, Sudan and was accepted as the second ever Banaa scholar and first Banaa scholar at the University of Rochester in 2010. His charisma and passion for peacemaking have allowed him to make a difference in his school and community as the President of the African Student Association within the University of Rochester and as an intern for Human Rights Watch in New York City.


Mo posing with his undergraduate diploma

The role of the University of Rochester within the Banaa program has continued to expand as they also have taken on their fourth scholar, Emman, for this coming school year. Again, a big congratulations to Mo and we will be supporting him in whatever lies ahead on his journey.


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USIP: Sudanese Leaders Program Applications due soon

United States Institute of Peace

Sudanese Youth Leaders Program
Deadline Approaching: March 7, 2014
USIP believes that investing in Sudanese and South Sudanese youth and exposing them to new political contexts is critical to supporting the next generation of leaders that will help secure and sustain peace, security, and democracy in Sudan and South Sudan.If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this project, please  visit our website for detailed information about the opportunity and the application process.Please note that the current round is only open to Sudanese candidates; another round will open at a later date for applicants from South Sudan.

Submissions must be made via email and will be accepted NO LATER THAN MARCH 7, 2014 at 5:00 PM EST . All applications and inquiries should be sent to


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Banaa Program Update-Summer 2013

The Banaa Scholarship Program is pleased to announce the admittance of new scholars to George Washington University and the University of Rochester for the upcoming school year! Banaa provides outstanding Sudanese and South Sudanese survivors of atrocity committed to peace-building with full scholarships at universities in the United States. Upon the completion of their degree, Banaa scholars are expected to return to Sudan and South Sudan with the skills necessary to peacefully address the complexities of the war-torn region. Last year, the first Banaa scholar, Makwei Mabioor Deng, graduated from GW with a degree in Philosophy and Economics. Jamie, Makwei, RyanHe returned to South Sudan last August, and has since been working as the Country Fellow for the IGC, an economic and academic think tank, conducting research and policy analysis for the government of South Sudan. Jacob Mator Aketch was selected to be GW’s second Banaa scholar as part of the class of 2017, and will begin studying engineering this fall. Ultimately, he hopes to leverage his education to work to develop infrastructure in Sudan when he returns to his home country. Mo and Sameer, the two Banaa scholars currently studying at the UofR in New York, will be entering their senior and junior years respectively.  This fall they will be joined by incoming freshman Salva Kuac Barjok, whose commitment to education despite adversity and his devotion to promoting the freedom of expression, good governance, and economic growth as a newspaper contributor make him an ideal Banaa scholarship candidate.

Banaa is based at The George Washington University and, since its founding in 2005, has been facilitated by GW students. At the heart of Banaa is the idea that students and young people are able to use university resources to create peaceful change. While host universities commit to providing tuition, room, and board for the scholars they admit, Banaa is responsible for fund-raising to cover the cost of countless other aspects of the program, including a living stipend for the scholar, travel expenses, and other costs. Banaa also welcomes in-kind donations for items useful to scholars, such as winter coats, laptops, and cell phones.

The student members of Banaa ran the first ever Banaa Summer Summit, hosted at GW last summer, which is to become an annual event. For the Summit, Banaa partnered with DC NGOs including The United States Institute for Peace, The National Democratic Institute, and The ENOUGH Project, to provide scholars with several days of

Banaa Scholars and Staff after a workshop during the 2012 Summer Summit

Banaa Scholars and Staff after a workshop during the 2012 Summer Summit

workshops centering around peace-building and conflict resolution skills. Scholars also honed public speaking skills during the Summit, working with professional facilitators to develop their incredibly powerful stories of self as tools for peace-building. This year, the Summer Summit is scheduled to take place at GW from August 8th-12th. We are so excited to meet the two new Banaa scholars and start a new school year! For more information on any aspect of the Banaa program, including the Summit, the application process and existing scholars, and fundraising or donating to Banaa, please explore our website or email


Jamie Fisher-Hertz

Banaa Staff

George Washington University Class of 2014

**There are many ways to get involved with Banaa! We’ve even made a list of suggestions for you! Also, be sure to Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog!

**A version of this article was first published in the George Washington University’s Philosophy Department’s Spring 2013 Newsletter

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How YOU can get involved!

Banaa is a strategic investment in peace and the Banaa staff are all committed help Banaa expand and fulfill its vision of educating dozens of Banaa Scholars.  As a small group of college students, we could certainly use your help.
We encourage you to get involved in any way that you can.  Banaa has several needs and the following are ways that you may be able to help us:
1) finding highly qualified candidates for the scholarship from the Sudans (applications are sent out in the fall). We especially would like to find women who are eligible for the scholarship, as we have not yet had a female Banaa Scholar.
2) helping our scholars with the transition to the way of life in America (in August and throughout the first year), especially as a college student. One thing that we would like more help with is connecting the scholars with a support base of Sudanese diaspora in the States. In addition to helping scholars adjust to life in the United States, our scholars often need other means of support, including internships and housing during the summer.
3) spreading awareness about Banaa, which can be done by word of mouth, via the internet, etc. One could also write a blog on our website or your own, follow us on twitter and facebook, and share our posts with your friends.
4) fundraising for the various needs of our program by reaching out to people and organizations (like small businesses and religious/community organizations) who may be willing to donate to Banaa.***
5) getting other colleges and universities to provide Banaa scholarships to students. Right now only the University of Rochester and GWU provide Banaa scholarships, and they can only commit to a limited number of scholars. But there are many Sudanese students yearning for higher education who lack the opportunity, and would make great peacemakers if they were given the resources. One of the best ways to bring Banaa to other universities is by starting a student group at your college, or joining a pre-existing group, and using the collective voice of your school’s student body to talk with your college/ university’s administrators about sponsoring a Banaa Scholarship.
If you think you can be of help to us in these ways we would be very appreciative.  Email us at
***Right now we are seeking two laptops and cell phones for the two new Banaa Scholars for academic use.  If you can help us obtain  these materials, again please email us at!

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What Banaa Has Taught Me

Banaa Scholars and Staff at the US Capitol Building

Banaa Scholars and Staff at the US Capitol Building

When I joined Banaa about a year ago, I had no idea that it would be one of the most inspiring, overwhelming, and wonderful things I have done yet.  I thought I knew about the conflict and situation in Sudan and South Sudan.  I didn’t at all, but I knew that I wanted to do more than I was.  The simple story is that Banaa is an entirely student-run organization that works to connect Sudanese scholars, who have faced so many challenges and atrocities, with scholarships in the United States so they can be equipped with knowledge, skills, and connections to change the situation in their home countries.  I cannot explain how much I have learned and grown because I chose to get involved with Banaa and the positive impact it has had on my life.

The Banaa scholars are strong and inspiring people who have become my friends.  Hearing even pieces of their stories this summer was life changing.  I am so happy that they are here brightening up and contributing to their college campuses, the lives of their friends, and various organizations around the country.  Knowing them has made me believe even more in Banaa’s mission of educating extraordinary people so they can be empowered to change their own country.  The Banaa program is small and personal.  We are a small organization and that means that we can only choose a few scholars to admit every year.  Every one of them is intelligent, talented, and has shown a dedication to promoting peace.  Each scholar makes a huge commitment to leaving behind his or her family and everything he or she knows to learn in the United States and dedicates his or her future to improving his or her country.  Banaa scholars more than deserve every opportunity we can give them.

My seven fellow Banaa staff and I have been through so much together fighting for our organization.  We have struggled to find a place for Banaa at GW, dealt with disappointments, and shared many triumphs.  Only students ourselves, we are trying and learning to make a difference in the world amongst a lot of red tape, cynicism, and homework of our own.  We are making budgets, fighting for every dollar of funding, interviewing candidates, attending hundreds and hundreds of meetings, and living and breathing this work.  I have never seen a group of people so determined to make a difference and so willing to give it everything they have.  Banaa has taught me about the importance of education, hard work, and never giving up.

At this point we are still working hard.  Our goal is to bring one of several extraordinary candidates to matriculate at GW in the fall of 2013.  We have secured a generous scholarship offer from the university and have put candidates through the first round of admissions.  In order to accept a scholar, however, we still need to raise about $4,000 by March 15.  This is where you can come in.  If you can, please donate.  Every dollar counts towards our goal and anything you can give we would appreciate so much.  If you have any airline miles to give, please donate those and we could use them to fly the scholar to DC from Sudan. If you think that Banaa is worth sharing then post about us on Facebook, Tweet about us, or just tell somebody who might be interested in giving someone an opportunity for an education.

Thank you for reading this and taking action.  You have no idea how important it is to me, a group of GW students, one amazing future GW student, and maybe someday an entire nation.


-Haley Aubuchon

Banaa Staff

George Washington University 2014

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Welcome to the Banaa Blog’s new blog will feature posts by Banaa scholars, staff members, and friends of Banaa to keep you informed about and updated on the program each month.  The blog will consist of five categories:

Announcement Posts for general announcements and updates concerning the

Scholar Posts for first hand accounts of each Banaa scholar’s transition from the Sudans to beginning their undergraduate education, their progress toward a college degree, and their transition back to the Sudans as peacemakers.

Getting Banaa Started posts to offer accounts of how students helped to bring Banaa to their school, and the transition that scholars make in beginning their undergraduate education.

Guest Posts to allow friends of Banaa to showcase their support for the Banaa program, while offering unique perspectives for building peace in the Sudans and related topics.

Check This Out posts for interesting posts we find from fellow bloggers.

To be featured on the Banaa Blog, or for general inquiries, please email

Yours Truly,

The Banaa Blog Team


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