Realising a dream: ORT Argentina opens new science centre


An international fundraising effort which attracted the support of the Jewish Federations of North America and World ORT donors has seen ORT Argentina inaugurate a stunning new science and technology centre this week.

The four-storey centre opened for business amid palpable excitement which spilled over into cyberspace as people around the world watched this week’s proceedings live via ORT Argentina’s Virtual Campus and well wishers posted a record number of comments via Facebook.

More than $5 million was needed to make the centre a reality, the result of an effective fundraising partnership with half the money raised by ORT Argentina and matching funds provided by World ORT through its Latin America Campaign.

In a letter congratulating ORT Argentina on “this momentous occasion”?, World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer paid tribute to the national organisation’s staff and supporters for their hard work and commitment. “As this new building is inaugurated we should take the time to recognise the dedication of ORT Argentina’s professional staff and lay leaders whose efforts are benefiting countless students in Argentina, today and in the future,”? Mr Singer wrote.

World ORT Chief Operating Officer Sonia Gomes de Mesquita added: “Generations of Argentine students will benefit from the generosity of our friends in the Federation system, as well as our own closest supporters. Thanks to them, and to the extraordinary loyalty and support of ORT Argentina donors, we were able to raise the necessary funds in a record time.”?

A pivotal figure among the dedicated team at ORT Argentina is Vice-President Dario Jaraj. A renowned architect, Mr Jaraj designed the centre pro bono with awe-inspiring results; its state-of-the-art labs in fields such as mechatronics, media production, applied maths, design and architecture, biochemistry, physics and environmental sciences not only bolster the organisation’s reputation for excellence in science and technology but frees up desperately needed space in the ORT high schools, for which there is a long waiting list of prospective students.

“This is a particularly special day for all of us at ORT Argentina,”? Mr Jaraj told the inauguration ceremony. “We are witnessing the realisation of a coveted desire: the opening of new classrooms in a new building which extends the campus by 6,000 square meters and which will house the hopes and dreams of our students. This is undoubtedly a milestone in the history of ORT Argentina, an organisation which for 76 years has been continuously working to provide a quality education for all.”?

Schools faced many challenges today, he said, not least preparing children for rapidly evolving professional and technological environments.

“But the fundamental challenge is one of educating citizens who are lucid, caring, competent, socially responsible, and, above all, free-thinking. I think the best way to address these challenges is to support our mission of “リEducating for Life’, providing more and better opportunities for all who choose to study with ORT.”?

Mr Jaraj concluded: “The realisation of this new building, equipped with the latest technology and designed according to the most advanced specifications, is a fundamental contribution to the education we provide because, as John Dewey said, “リIf we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.'”?

In other events, marking the start of the academic year, ORT Argentina Academic Director Viviana Jasid welcomed new students and their families with words inspired by Hannah Arendt’s philosophy of natality, which sees young students as in a “state of becoming”?.

“Every person we educate is a new arrival, something like a baby, who has the desire to build the future and, as a unique person, does so with a fresh outlook. Our school and teachers have the privilege of welcoming new students with respect and love and fostering a fruitful relationship, one which helps them to grow as people,”? Ms Jasid said.

ORT Argentina National Director Dr Adrian Moscovich delivered his own personal message to the new students: “In a few years we will find ourselves at the graduation ceremony and another cycle will have been completed. I hope that when we get to that point you will have the satisfaction of having enjoyed studying at ORT and feel responsible for the future. ORT is at your disposal; ORT is for you because you are the ones who make it what it is.”?

Newcomers to ORT appreciated the warm welcome. As one mother told the Iton Gadol Jewish news organisation: “I hope my daughter continues to be as happy as she is today, so anxious and keen to learn, to feel comfortable with an institution which embraces her.”?