18 November 2009 ORT America mission to South America The quality of education which ORT provides in Argentina and Uruguay has amazed a group of passionate supporters of ORT America. A 31-member mission has spent four days seeing ORT in action and most of the participants returned home on Monday physically tired but emotionally energised by the experience. A few, however, stayed on to see what ORT is doing in Chile. They heard about ORT Chiles plans to open a new Jewish school which would provide an affordable option for the 2,000 children who currently are not served by Santiagos two Jewish schools. They visited a one of the scores of state schools whose science facilities have been upgraded by ORT Chile in an on-going project funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation as well as a training project for blind people funded by the Telefonica Foundation. In California, Barbara Morrison was ecstatic about what she and her husband, Robert, had seen particularly in Argentina. Seeing ORTs work first hand has given members of ORT Americas mission to South America a deeper appreciation for the organisations contribution. We were both blown away with the schools, my husband even more than me because I toured some schools on a mission back in the 1980s but this was my husbands first time, said Mrs Morrison, who has been an active supporter of ORT for 36 years. The two high schools in Buenos Aires seem more like universities; they seemed to be learning much more than the high schools in America. After touring Buenos Aires ORT Belgrano campus, Mindy Gordon, from Chicago, wrote on the mission blog: Today was an amazing day. What an exciting campus. I wish my kids could go to a school like this: unbelievable cutting-edge technology and Jewish, too! And Taffy Stern added: I believe that this education far surpasses the one that my children received at a private school in Los Angeles. The depth of the basic education is extensive; added to this are the various specialty tracks which are available for the senior students. They actually learn information that is useful in life. The teachers were young and enthusiastic. The student-teacher ratio was fantastic. Should a student decide to attend a university after high school, they find themselves well ahead of their peers from the public school system. In addition to the general and specialty education, they receive a Jewish education as well. In addition to the ORT Belgrano campus, the ORT America mission toured the ORT Almagro campus in Buenos Aires, met senior ORT Argentina lay leaders including President Dr Hector Rosenzvit and National Director Adrian Moscovich, met Jewish community figures and went sight-seeing. But the highlight for many was meeting some of the 5,900 students, most of whom are able to attend the schools because money raised by the ORT family internationally helps to pay their tuition fees. Its hard to say what impressed me the most, the students or the curriculum, said Ms Gordon. And 24-year-old Amy Shapiro, who came on the mission with her mother, Eunice, a long-time ORT supporter, said: I really enjoyed the childrens dedication to everything at their schools, the way they told us about their accomplishments. They blew my mind. Growing up hearing about her mothers activities with ORT had not prepared Amy for the experience of seeing how people benefit from the organisations mission. The graduate in apparel and business marketing has returned to Illinois inspired to join ORT and with a renewed sense of pride in her Jewish heritage. I have seen how much the kids value their Judaism, she said. It was touching and made me remember why I used to be a bit more religious. Earlier in the week, the mission had visited the ORT Uruguay University, which for the fifth successive year has been ranked as the only university in the country to be among the best in Latin America. According to the World Universities Ranking published by the Times Higher Education Supplement, ORT Uruguay is among the best 500 universities in the world and among the 14 best in Latin America (which has 700 universities). ORT Uruguay is an example of a very successful ORT school, Ms Stern wrote on the mission blog. They utilised funds received from World ORT, built an outstanding academic facility and now stand on their own supported by tuition and government funding. Currently, World ORTs funding is for scholarships for Jewish students. There is nothing else ORT Uruguay needs from the parent, World ORT. If only we could all teach our children to fly this well. Merle Teitelbaum Cowin, of Illinois, said the tour of ORT Uruguay had been amazing. For many years I have attended ORT dinners, ORT luncheons, made contributions, and proudly said I was an ORT member, she wrote on the blog. But until today I really never knew what all that meant. Suellen Kadis, of Ohio, described visiting ORT Uruguay as inspirational. Meeting with dedicated administrators and faculty and talking with bright and eager students reinforces our commitment to ORT, Ms Kadis, who travelled with her husband, Larry, wrote. The appreciation from the students makes us feel that our time and effort is being well spent. After a day there we all left with an intense pride in ORTs work and our roles in that success.