ORT’s magnificent work in Moscow


Lawson family visits ORT projects in Moscow ORTs work in Moscow is magnificent according to the Hon Carole Lawson, who has toured projects funded by her family. Together with her husband Geoffrey, Mrs Lawson is a member of World ORTs elite major donors organisation, The 1880 Society. Accompanied by her sons Edward and Jeremy, Mrs Lawson visited the Moscow ORT Technology School, which was founded in 1996, and the Jack Lawson Vocational Training Centre (VTC), which was set up at the school in 2001. The Lawsons discussed the operational focus of the VTC with its Director, Igor Pavlov. During the 2004-2005 academic year, the VTC trained some 2,500 people bringing it past the landmark 10,000 students over four years. Sponsored by the Carole and Geoffrey Lawson Foundation, the VTCs curriculum comprises Information and Communication Technology (ICT) courses and Jewish Studies. Students are taught in a modular framework, with each module lasting between one and three weeks. The centre has given training opportunities to underemployed people so that they can acquire the skills they need to improve their career prospects, Mr Pavlov said. In the first phase of its operation, the centre has focused only on Moscow. In the second phase of its operations, over the next four years, we are looking forward to extending its reach to people in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and three cities in Ukraine. Cutting edge distance learning technology will be used to link the Moscow VTC with the new centres as part of the Lawson Career Initiative. This technology has also been implemented by ORT to give disabled children extra education. The Lawsons visited one such child, Yeva Merzon (pictured) at her home. ORT student Yeva Merzon presents her artwork to Edward and Jeremy Lawson as the Hon Carole Lawson looks on. The Lawsons also met the ORT Technology Colleges Principal, Dr Yuri Mironenko, and saw the wide variety of courses available there, including fashion, advertising and ICT. They were presented with a picture made by the students and painted silk ties and a silk scarf produced by fashion students. Whatever was being taught in the schools was of a high standard, Mrs Lawson said. We saw a fashion show which was very exciting; the clothes had been designed and made by students and some of them belonged in Paris! They also toured the ORT Technology School, which caters to younger students than the college, where students gave a Power Point presentation of their work and shared their experience of Jewish life provided by ORT. The school choir gave a concert and the Lawsons were presented with a CD of their songs as well as calendars designed by the children. At Jewish School No 1311, the Lawsons saw the Museum of the Jewish Family, which was designed with the help of the ORT Technology Centre based there. They also viewed some films made by students at the technology centres animation studio. Edward and the Hon Carole Lawson discuss their gifts with World ORT Director General Robert Singer (right). Amid site-seeing and meeting students, the Lawsons also had a meeting at the Israeli Embassy and had lunch with ORT Russia lay leaders, including the President, Professor Alexander Asmolov. Having supported ORT for 30 years or so I had no idea what it was like to go there, Mrs Lawson said. Being there was completely wonderful. It was an eye-opener for my sons and myself. The work that ORT does is magnificent the happiness in the schools, the contentment of the children, the feeling that ORT was doing the right thing for them. It was an amazing trip. Mrs Lawson said she was impressed by the Jewish content of the schools education. I dont live in London or in a Jewish community so I hadnt seen before what ORT does in integrating Jewish studies with everyday life and everyday studies. World ORT Representative in Russia, Belarus and Central Asia, Avi Ganon, said everyone in Moscow had been thrilled by the Lawsons visit. We all appreciated the opportunity to show our guests from England what we have achieved over the past five years, Mr Ganon said. The future of the VTC is particularly exciting with the launch of a new project for Jewish adults. Thanks to the linking of the various centres in Russia and Ukraine we will be able to help our graduates with job placement across the former Soviet Union for those willing to travel. ORT renewed its operations in the CIS and Baltic States in 1991, more than 50 years after its activities were forced to close there. Currently, ORT coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan: 53 projects in 32 locations serving more than 27,000 people.