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ETP For All

Lydia Lustig, a volunteer at Bnei Akiva School Hadera, with her student, a non-native English Teacher enhancing his oral proficiency.

I was born and raised in America. I cherish my childhood there and love what America stands for. But I am also Jewish and Israeli. Israel is my home.

Perhaps it is due to the combination of both my US upbringing and Jewish heritage that I feel it is our responsibility to ensure that every child in Israel is safe, has sufficient food, and has the confidence to dream of a bright future knowing they will have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams - regardless of origin, skin color, ethnic background or sexual preference.

I joined ESRA years ago, becoming part of Israel's English-speaking family and working towards equality. I believe that it is not only our responsibility, but also our duty, and our privilege, to make sure this is the kind of world we want our children to grow up in.

I feel at home in ESRA because it is a pluralistic, apolitical organization without any religious affiliation, but with respect for all. The proof of this is clearly seen in the variety of projects it has established and the multicultural populations that benefit. For instance, over the last three years, 47 schools in Israel's Arab sectors have become an integral part of ESRA's English Tutoring programs, with over 120 volunteer tutors working with them.

We count among the ESRA family thousands of olim from a variety of backgrounds and a range of age groups, all with different opinions, outlooks and preferences. And yet we all share a love of Israel and an understanding of the value of giving.

Israel is undeniably unique in its multi-cultural population, its range of political views, and its conglomerate of histories. For good or for bad, this is part of the makeup of the daily lives of all Israelis. Having said that, we need to be sensitive to people's historic backgrounds, and show respect for our volunteers and their views – one can never presume to know what kind of story each person hides within.

In a letter to the Editor about ESRA's English Tutoring Program (ETP) appearing in the previous issue of ESRA Magazine, the writer states: "ESRA as an organization should not condone or accept racism in any form." I personally agree wholeheartedly, and speak for the organization when I say that is a given. I think perhaps the writer of that comment misunderstood something. ESRA's English Tutoring Program (ETP) is not about politics, gender, religion or race. It is about helping Israeli students and English teachers with English as a second language, to improve their English in a fun and supportive way, while enabling English-speaking olim to integrate into Israeli society and at the same time to influence its wellbeing.

The strengths and preferences of both student/teacher and tutor are taken into consideration when making the "right match" between them, to ensure a successful experience. Preferences of our volunteer tutors vary in terms of age level, gender, specific population - secular as opposed to religious, Jewish as opposed to Arab, or the reverse. Other preferences relate to level of Hebrew proficiency, distance tutoring via ZOOM, as opposed to face-to-face tutoring in the school, preferred hours of tutoring (morning, afternoon or evening hours). Some tutors prefer compliant students, while others are motivated to tutor more challenging students, such as those experiencing difficulty, in need of encouragement, reinforcement or TLC (tender loving care). If a tutor requests a female student as opposed to a male, it does not mean that ESRA's program does not tutor males. Similarly, one tutor may prefer a religious Jew over an Arab, and this has no bearing on the total inclusive population included in ESRA's program. It is simply a procedure for considerate matching, ensuring the success of the program.

The recipients of tutoring, both students and teachers, are also invited to express their needs and preferences. For example, an Ultra-Orthodox male English teacher with English as a second language, participating in ETP's Teacher Chat program, may ask to be matched with a male tutor – as required by his religious beliefs. Or a female Bedouin teacher in the same program can request a female tutor because her husband will not allow her to meet with a male tutor.

Ilan Israel, a volunteer, lives in Kfar Saba tutoring online a student from Gvanim School in Afula. When it became possible, Ilan came to Afula to meet his student and his teacher

ESRA's ETP is committed to improving English among any Israeli students or English teachers who wishes to apply. At the same time, it is committed to offering quality volunteering opportunities to its members, involving them in Israeli society while providing training, ongoing support and supervision.

Training of volunteers includes not only tutoring strategies, but also guidance as to appropriate behavior and etiquette necessary when providing the service. Training encourages compassion, sensitivity, flexibility, mutual respect, non-judgmental encouragement, understanding, and tolerance. ESRA's ETP also sets boundaries, limitations and guidelines that ensure the integrity of the program.

A development enjoyed by ESRA's ETP has been the opportunity to expand into new areas, including Arab and religious sectors. This has been made possible mainly via distance tutoring (ZOOM).

As one of our volunteers, Dalia Ayalon Sinclair, wrote:

"ETP is about more than improving English. It is about coexistence, building bridges of peace. I am so pleased to have been able to contribute in such an important program… It is comforting to know that as women we care about our children and their future. My student, Nadia, is a very caring and amazing beautiful person and personality and I feel privileged to be her tutor. I look forward to continuing this important role. We are not only improving English-speaking skills but also generating acceptance and respect for each other. We are building bridges between communities in this country and worldwide."

We love what we do and learn how to improve as we go. We welcome comments and invite constructive criticism – they help our program grow. And we welcome you to join this win-win program.

Contact Anat to register at +972 9 950 8371 # 4 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Tuesday, 18 January 2022

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