05 August 2009 Diversity the hallmark of World ORTs English Summer School The rain that has greeted this years World ORT English and Science Summer School participants in London has not dampened their enthusiasm for an 11-day learning and bonding experience. Twenty-eight teenagers from Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Moldova, Italy, France, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have been chosen by their respective schools for the trip, which is supported by the Alan and Babette Sainsbury Trust and the Joseph Trust. Its my first time in London; Im very excited, said Joanna Hachem, 16, a student at Ofek High School in Israel. I want to achieve everything I can while I am here. Most of all I want to improve my English. But I am also looking forward to making new friends from all over the world and to seeing London. Circle of friends: Summer School students enjoy an activity to break the ice on their first day. Originally from a small village in Lebanon, Joanna has lived in Israel since her parents, who had worked side by side with Israelis during the occupation of the south of the country, were granted asylum when the IDF withdrew nine years ago. A Christian, she now considers Israel as much her home as Lebanon. However, she misses the many relatives she left behind. Like her best friend Raida Zoarob, also a Christian refugee from Lebanon and who is also at the Summer School, Joanna has an ambitious plan to enable her to reunite with her extended family. Because I live in Israel I cant visit Lebanon to see my family, Joanna said. So I would like to study medicine abroad. Then I hope I can travel to Lebanon. In the meantime, she keeps in contact using email and Messenger on her computer at home. Its very hard but we have to live with it, she said. Like her classmate Joanna, Raida excels at science and maths at school. She also shares a passion to be a doctor and the two of them volunteer at the local hospital and for Magen David Adom. I came to England last year because I have relatives here but this is my first time in London, Raida said. I am looking forward to visiting the museums and to getting to know the other people at the Summer School better. They are a very nice group of people. She hopes to study medicine in England so improving her English is very important for her. By studying in another country I will be able to visit my grandmother and the rest of my family in Lebanon, she said, echoing her friend. The World ORT English and Science Summer School was founded in 2003 with a focus on raising the level of English language skills among Israeli high school students, not least because of the importance of English in pursuing scientific and technical studies. Each year, dozens of deserving students are brought to London where they spend their mornings undergoing intensive English language tuition and their afternoons and evenings enjoying tours and group activities. While more than half the kids still come from Israel, this years Summer School breaks from the traditional model by bringing in a greater proportion of participants from other countries. We have a wider diversity of countries participating this year which brings a serious international dimension to bear, said Vladimir Dribinskiy, the Head of World ORTs Coordination and Education and Technology Departments, which organised the Summer School. Without diminishing the importance of Israeli participation, this enhanced international participation will create a cadre of student ambassadors who can take the ORT ethos back with them to their respective schools across Europe. We usually deal with the teachers and principals but its no less important to reach out to the students directly. These students come from very different backgrounds but they all share one thing in common: their schools benefit from World ORT programmes. By bringing them to London to learn together we are nurturing the familial aspect of ORTs identity. The ambitions of the young people at the Summer School bring home just how natural internationalism is to them. Like Raida and Joanna, Dina Kavanova, from the Czech Republic, would also like to attend university abroad. I want to be an international business lawyer so it is necessary for me to know English well, Dina said. I am very excited to be part of this Summer School. We are studying English in a good college so I think I will be able to improve my skills, especially my understanding of idioms. She said it was increasingly common for people her age to consider going abroad for study and work. We all learn languages and that makes it easier for us to do it, she said. I would like to study in Israel. I have never been there but I think its a great country with a long history and I am very interested in it. I think I would like to live there. Everyone at the Summer School is very friendly so I am looking forward to making new friends, especially with Israelis. I think this will be an amazing trip. Camp Director Joe Wolfson said Dinas expectations were sure to be realised. The ethnic and religious diversity is one of the very nice hallmarks of the Sumer School, Mr Wolfson said. The kids have been taken out of their normal environments and get to spend time with people they might not normally mix with. They have only been here for two days but already they are making friends. We have one of the two Israeli Arab boys getting on very well with a Russian boy and an Israeli Arab girl hanging out with some religious Jewish kids, a firm friendship forming between the Bulgarian and the French participants. Its great to see. He described the Summer School programme as jam-packed. In addition to the intensive English study, science-related activities, sight-seeing, and stimulating group activities, the kids get to visit some of Londons most popular tourist attractions, among them Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeons, the London Eye, Wembley Stadium, and to spend an evening at a West End theatre, he said. The teenagers were selected for the summer school because their educators assessed them to be hard-working and deserving. And each of the participants is committed to using their enhanced language skills to help younger students back home with their English studies. They will undoubtedly gain from the time spent in London and will be a tremendous asset to their schools and communities upon their return home, Mr Wolfson said. I am sure that they will not only improve their English and scientific knowledge but will make a ton of new friends and overall have the experience of a lifetime.