15 August 2008 World ORT English Summer School a huge success The biggest ever World ORT English and Science Summer School has concluded, having helped nearly 80 teenagers from Israel, Bulgaria, France, Italy and the Czech Republic to improve their English language skills and enjoy an introduction to British culture. The return home of the second international group of more than 30 students marked a watershed in World ORTs summer school programme not only markedly larger than previous summer schools, this years intake benefited from the facilities of a childrens residential camp rather than lodging in a hotel and enjoyed the input of English-speaking madrichim rather than being accompanied by teachers from their own schools. As in previous years, the 16- and 17-year-old students toured sites of cultural importance and interest, including the Tower of London and Oxford University, in addition to mornings spent in intensive English language tuition and they are committed to helping fellow students with their English studies over the next two years. The Senior Deputy Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Education, Dr Itzhik Tomer, told the closing ceremony at ORT House, London: I want to thank World ORT and the Rashi Foundation for this; clearly a lot of effort has been put into bringing these children here. Cooperation between them and the Ministry is growing constantly and programmes such as this summer school are vital. Yishaaya Zabary, a student from Kfar Hasidim, which is one of more than 30 campuses in Israel benefiting from World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme, said he was looking forward to using his improved language skills to help others. Weve learned a lot of new words, idioms and slang here that we would never have learned at home, Yishaaya said. We can use this knowledge to help other people in our schools. We will sit with them in school, or maybe go to their homes and help them with things that they find difficult. Among the non-Jewish Israelis at the summer school was Muhammad Khamaisi, from Kafr Kana, near Nazareth. Thank you World ORT, Muhammad told the closing ceremony. I arrived as an individual student with high hopes and almost immediately I felt part of something bigger, something special; and by the end of the trip I feel like a real member of the ORT family. I cant wait to start giving back to my community and share my experiences with my friends, family and all those I will help. Valery Cordoval, from Beer Sheva, came to participate in the summer school thanks to the Rashi Foundation. She was particularly struck by the cultural differences between England and her home country. One of the most beautiful things we saw is the city of Oxford where I loved to see the old next to the new. Now Im thinking about learning at Oxford University, although I know that its going to be a challenging path, Valery said. Being here in London exposed us to different people, traditions and a culture that you dont see in Israel. Things like people being polite and standing quietly in line was a new concept for some of us Israelis. Many of the Israeli students those from schools participating in Kadima Mada were enthusiastic about the improvements World ORT had made to their learning environment. But such experiences were not confined to the Jewish State. Mihaela Simeonova is a student at the Jewish school in Sofia, Bulgaria. World ORT and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation created a technology centre for us in 2003. Because of them we are able to use computers during school time. Learning has become a more pleasant process. Now students are able to create presentations; we are more active, creative and curious because studying becomes much more attractive when we use computers, Mihaela said. She said that the two weeks spent at the summer school had been the most exciting and interesting ones in my life. It wasnt a summer school only because of the lessons; I received a lot of life lessons. I met different people, lived with them, laughed with them and also cried with them This opportunity has been a priceless present which cannot be compared with anything. Michael Goldberg, the summer school project manager, said that this years intake of two groups of teenagers totalling 76 students represented a massive increase in the size and scope of the summer school. Its been a great success and has become a summer camp, not just a summer school, Mr Goldberg said. Theres been a noticeable improvement in participants English. And the diversity of the participants has been made for some very special moments such as when a Bedouin student held the candle while Jewish students recited the blessings during the havdalah ceremony marking the end of Shabbat on Saturday evening. World ORT Director General Robert Singer thanked the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trust, whose representative Jo Ecclestone was at the closing ceremony, British ORT, the Rashi Foundation and the Joseph Trust for their contributions and support which had made the summer school possible in its new format. The English language summer school started five years ago with 10 children. Now we have nearly 80 and I think its going to grow more and more, Mr Singer told the students. We see you as future leaders in your schools and in everything you do and wish you every success in your endeavours.