World ORT scholarships for Israeli students


29 August 2008 World ORT scholarships for Israeli students A new World ORT scholarship scheme is giving young Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds a better chance to continue their tertiary education. This year 300,000 NIS have been divided among 100 students at the ORT Braude College of Engineering in Karmiel, which was founded in 1989 following a World ORT campaign strongly supported by ORTs friends around the world, with a further 100,000 NIS to be distributed during the month of September. The college is now one of the northern Israels most important tertiary institutions offering a range of international standard technical and scientific degrees. The scholarship scheme has been implemented in conjunction with Chevrat HaMatnasim, the Israeli organisation for community centres, and requires beneficiaries to undertake at least 60 hours of community service. Shmuel Cohen, World ORTs Technology Education field team member in Israel, said the scheme was giving scholarship recipients an opportunity to reach out to people, some of whom lived in even more disadvantaged circumstances than they had been used to. This is a project that makes me realise just how important the work I do for World ORT is, Mr Cohen said. It moves me very much that I can help others to educate themselves and so have the possibility to succeed in life. While I am just the representative of a great organisation and this is not my money I feel that I am helping people. If you see tears in my eyes youll understand why. I am involved in many worthwhile projects but this is one of the greatest. The scholarships were awarded following an intensive vetting process: Chevrat HaMatnasim selected 140 ORT Braude students who lived mainly in towns benefiting from World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme; these were then whittled down to 75 of the most deserving students from new immigrants to orphans and those who are simply poor. One of them, Shmuel, is volunteering at evening activities provided by the community centre in Kiryat Yam, activities designed to give young people a positive alternative to roaming the streets. The scholarship has helped me very much, especially at exam time when I dont have the time to work to earn money, Shmuel said. But it has also helped me by giving me this opportunity to help kids in my home town. Its so important what Im doing with them. Aliza, an engineering student, agreed and noted the satisfaction she was deriving from the experience. Sometimes I see the kids in the street and they call out to me to say hello and that gives me a real buzz, she said. Adham, an electronics student, has been helping out at the community centre in the Arab town of Majdal Krum. The scholarship has helped me to recognise the needs of children in my community and the great work of the community centre, he said. Volunteering there has been the experience of my life and I intend to return next year to do more. I am very grateful to World ORT, not only for the money, but for opening a wonderful new world to me. Volunteering had also been an eye-opening experience for Afifi, a software engineering student from Mateh Sher. Theres no doubt that this scholarship saved me from a very difficult financial situation, he said. Its strengthened me and given me the motivation to continue my studies. The community service I have done already has made me realise that its my duty to give and I intend to do more than the 60 hours that I am committed to. Rony Kalinsky, the Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, said the first year of the scholarship programme had shown its potential to broaden the minds of beneficiaries. The students were helping come from difficult backgrounds but they find that by helping others they develop a different perspective on their problems, Mr Kalinsky said. Its a clich but its true: by helping others they are truly helping themselves. I hope that World ORT supporters will see the extraordinary value in this project by enabling us to extend similar scholarships to needy students at other colleges in Israel. This scheme has been generously funded through the help of the Federation System in the United States and ORT America.