Thirty-five Jewish, Druze and Muslim teenagers from Israel, Moldova and Belarus, Italy and France have arrived in London for the World ORT Rosner English Summer School.
The Summer School has doubled its size this year – an indication of the impact that English language skills have on the realisation of students’ potential in education and career.
The high school students have a packed two-week program at the Hampstead School of English.
The group includes Druze and Muslim students from Israel in line with World ORT’s commitment to co-existence, tolerance and mutual respect.
“Through our education and training programmes we aim to build an international fellowship, to break down the barriers that divide people and instead unite them,” said World ORT’s Head of Jewish Education Judah Harstein in welcoming the students to London.
The students, who were selected for their leadership skills, educational achievement and dedication to volunteer projects, are committed to providing extra, informal English language tuition to their schoolmates on their return home.
In founding the Summer School, World ORT supporter Jenny Rosner recognised the need to give Israeli students a chance to improve their command of the English language. Students in Israel need advanced English in order to meet the entry conditions of most universities. English also plays a vital role in developing a scientific or technical career because most publications, manual instructions and international conferences are in the language. Over the years, the summer school has opened its doors to non-Israeli ORT students as well.
Hassan Thawho, 16, is a member of the small Circassian Muslim community in Israel. A student at the multicultural Kadoorie Agricultural High School, Hassan said he was excited by his first trip to England. “I am looking forward to improving my English because I want to be able to communicate with people from other countries and cultures,” he said.
Anna Tiutina, who celebrated her 17th birthday on the first day of the Summer School, excels at languages at the Kishinev ORT Herzl Technology Lyceum in Moldova. “English is very important,” Anna said. “I want to have a career that will involve travel and meeting other people – I don’t want to sit in one place. So having good English will help me do that.”
Gefen Lieberman, 16, is a student at Sha’ar HaNegev, a school which is under constant threat from rockets launched from Gaza but which enjoys the support of World ORT through Kadima Mada. Her arrival in London was preceded by her first ever flight. “I liked it very much; it was like something out of Superman,” she said. “I am looking forward to improving my English. It’s important to speak English – everybody knows it so it’s very useful.”
The expansion of the Summer School this year has been made possible thanks to the generosity of British ORT supporters and the UK-based Joseph Trust.
Pnina Hilman one of the three teachers accompanying the group. said that “the students have to speak English all the time. The multicultural environment is also very good. When you have children from different backgrounds doing things together they appreciate each other’s humanity.