Mariya Ilyas '13 is preaching what she practices. Ilyas was recently awarded funding from the Davis Project for Peace to create a high school journalism program at Al-Imtiaz Academy (AIA) in Abottabad, Pakistan, based on her experience working on newspapers in high school and at Bowdoin.

The Davis Project for Peace provides each selected student $10,000 to implement their project ideas to achieve peace throughout the world.

Ilyas was inspired to return to AIA after interning and teaching there last summer with the help of an award from the Preston Public Interest Career Fund.

"It definitely hit home and had a lot of personal meaning to it since I was born in Pakistan and was there until I was eight, and I didn't really come to value my education until I got to the United States," said Ilyas. "Being at such a privileged place like Bowdoin, I feel an obligation to give back."

"I knew immediately after last summer that I wanted to go back [to Abottobad], primarily because 12 years ago I could have been in the seats of my students had I not had the opportunity to come to the States," she added.

Ilyas hopes to teach her students the power of a free press.

"It's really important to educate the youth about a voice that they have, especially in a country that has been in political turmoil for a long time," she said. "[Pakistan] prides itself on being a democracy, but there's a lot of corruption...I sincerely believe that journalism is the link in promoting a peaceful society by giving people a voice."

Ilyas based much of her curriculum on what she learned as a high school student during the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program (SJP), a 10-day program.

"SJP changed my life, and I owe the counselors and directors there for encouraging me to continue journalism in college," said Ilyas.

Ilyas, who is currently creating lesson plans for her students based on the curriculum at both SJP and her high school journalism classes, plans to teach the students the basic elements of journalism, including writing, interviewing, photojournalism and layout. Ilyas's program will also include a field trip to Islamabad to visit the English-speaking newspaper Dawn. Ilyas is also hoping to conclude her program at AIA with the production of at least one issue of the new student newspaper.

Ilyas added that AIA ensured her the school would continue the newspaper after her time there comes to an end.

Mariya Ilyas has worked for the Bowdoin Orient since September 2009, and is currently the Arts & Entertainment editor. She had no editorial input in this article and did not view the piece at any point prior to publication.