ORT students from around the world will take part in an educational interfaith event promoting understanding, tolerance and cultural exchange as part of a joint initiative with Pope Francis.
The Scholas World Youth Encounter event will take place in Panama in October and is a continuation of the ORT network’s collaboration with the Pope’s Scholas Occurrentes Foundation.
Amelie Esquenazi, World ORT Networking Coordinator for Latin America, travelled to the Vatican to sign the agreement with Scholas President José María del Corral following an audience with the Pope. That session was attended by a group of international students and dignitaries including U2 frontman Bono.
Pope Francis has made education and youth a fixture of his work. Scholas is a joint project between his foundation and World ORT and until the pandemic met annually as an inter-religious, inter-cultural conference for young people. The aim is to create leaders of the future.
Ms Esquenazi presented the Pope with a pen inscribed with the Shema in Hebrew. After the meeting she said: “The Pope is a man concerned about the world, concerned about always having young people close, listening to them and offering them the possibility of being leaders of a better world.
“One of ORT’s key values is Tikkun Olam – we also strive for a better world, for peace and to care for the planet. We encourage our students to be global citizens and leaders of the future with a conscience – and Scholas is the perfect partner for this task.”
It is hoped 50 students will travel to Panama from around the world, including around 25 youngsters from ORT schools in Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Bulgaria, Israel, Spain and South Africa
A program will take place at a community centre in Panama City, with visits to local attractions including trips to the Panama Canal and Monkey Island.
After the four-day program the students will work remotely together for a year before presenting projects in their home countries.
Previous Scholas meetings have taken place in Jerusalem, the Vatican, Argentina and Mexico.
Maria de Paz Jurado, Scholas Coordinator, introduced Ms Esquenazi to the Pope and said: “Amelie and World ORT are dear friends of ours. Their global education network was with us at the birth of Scholas in Buenos Aires and we have worked together around the world. Now our alliance will continue in Panama.”