The ORT NXT Leadership Programme participants have returned from their Mission to Israel!
The group spent five days witnessing how ORT makes an Impact Through Education by providing a first class education to children in Israel’s peripheries – preparing them for a successful future, regardless of their background.
On arrival, the group were welcomed by ORT UK’s Chair, Annette Kurer, who had flown in a few days earlier to run a training session at ORT’s Kfar Silver Youth Village, near Ashkelon. Annette offered students on the school’s ‘Young Ambassador’ programme, some of whom were impressively tri-lingual, advice on ‘how to make a good first impression.’
The NXT group spent the following morning touring the British Embassy and discovering why Israel is the ‘Start-up Nation,’ at a presentation from the director of the UK Israel Tech Hub, Idan Fisher. The not-for-profit was founded by the UK government as a means to drive economic growth, by helping British companies partner with cutting-edge technology from Israel.
As Shabbat approached, the cohort were invited to dine with rabbi & former contestant of Israeli Master chef, Josh Steele, for a home-cooked Friday night extravaganza!
Sunday was spent with PresenTense – an organisation that runs training programmes to level the playing field in entrepreneurship, helping socially marginalised communities to succeed. Our participants were treated to a session on ‘design thinking,’ which involved finding practical and creative solutions to challenges to achieve optimal results. They also met Uzu, a refugee from Dafur who shared how he transformed his life and now lives in Israel, working as a programme leader.
That evening marked the first time ORT UK had brought a leadership group to join the World ORT General Assembly (GA). ORT leaders and educators from across the globe gathered to discuss ORT’s ground-breaking pedagogical plans to enable its 200,000 beneficiaries to Face the Future.
The following day, the GA delegates took a tour of ORT’s projects in Kiryat Yam, north of Haifa. After a welcome from the Mayor, David Even- Tzur, our group visited the new Dan and Betty Khan STEAM Centre at the Rodman School. They saw how kindergarten children were receiving robotics education and how this focus on science and tech continued right into adulthood, equipping students with the skills to gain employment.
The final stop was the Kfar Silver Youth Village – home to some of Israel’s most at-risk students, many of whom are refugees. Children learn valuable life skills here, in addition to traditional school subjects, with many working on the farm preparing them for jobs in agriculture. They also receive incredible pastoral support, with schemes such as pet therapy to help more vulnerable kids settle and learn about taking responsibility. In addition, our group also saw the result of the significant donation from the Gerald and Gail Ronson Family Foundation, with an amazing new kitchen/dining room, where the farm’s own produce is utilised to create healthy dishes for the students and staff.
We hope that the ORT NXT Leadership programme’s first ever mission to Israel has given our future leaders insight into ORT’s life-changing work in Israel and inspired them to continue giving back to the community. They will now regroup with the rest of their cohort back in the UK, as sessions continue until the end of 2022.
Reflecting on the trip, ORT UK Chair, Annette Kurer said, ‘NXT is a challenging and thought-provoking leadership development programme that engages with the next generation of leaders who have the potential to make a difference to the future of ORT and the wider Jewish Community. We were delighted to have eight of the NXT cohort take part in the NXT leadership mission in Israel. The engagement of the NXT group and their motivation to continue to support ORT’s Impact through Education following this trip is phenomenal and they are proving to be worthy ambassadors in different parts of the community, raising the profile of the incredibly meaningful work that ORT does.’
Some thoughts from our NXT participants..
‘The ORT NXT trip to Israel was inspiring, showcasing some of ORT’s leading programmes. We saw how ORT’s values are embedded in the schools’ facilities, providing spaces for science and technology, collaboration and entrepreneurship. It was a privilege to see the impact ORT has on some of Israel’s most vulnerable children: not only are they providing cutting edge education in schools, but ORT follow the children through to university, developing the next generation of Israel’s leaders.’
‘Visiting in person the transformative work and projects that ORT has developed throughout the years, in bringing the right support to thousands of kids that have so much potential, but not necessarily the resources to study, is phenomenal and life changing. I have made good friends within the group that I want to keep interacting with and developing new ideas.’
‘This was an unforgettable and emotionally challenging trip. Visiting recipients of ORT’s programmes was one of those reminders to love being alive, to be proud to be Jewish. This was a humbling experience, meeting children who deserve an education. I met so many interesting children and teenagers, each with a life full of stories and experiences, each with a reason why they find themselves in an unthinkably vulnerable position. I very much like the fact that ORT UK teaches people how to fish, rather than giving them the fish to eat, which would never break the line of poverty and create self-sufficient economies.’
‘By attending the schools in person and talking to students, I could fully grasp ORT´s impact, which is to give people a second chance in life. People do not choose where they are born nor their circumstances, and when these are unfortunate, the only way to change their life’s course is education. I am delighted to be part of such a powerful organisation.’
Jasmin Mojrenfeld Polite