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A Match Made in Heaven…

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IDC & ESRA - Enriching your Israel experience

As one IDC student put it, "it's given me a connection into Israeli society."

So what's it all about? IDC invited ESRA on to its campus to offer students volunteering opportunities that get them uniquely involved in life in Israel.

Why ESRA? ESRA is Israel's largest English speaking network and non-profit volunteering organization. Its aim is to help English speakers acclimate to life in Israel, while also running community projects to help weaker and needy sectors of society. These two aims fit together perfectly, because its 40 years of operation have shown that a great way of getting acclimated is by volunteering and helping others.

Since the connection between IDC and ESRA began four years ago, over 300 IDC students have volunteered with ESRA. This past year alone, 68 students were involved in a variety of ESRA activities, from helping with administration in the ESRA office, to working with ESRA's English Tutoring Program (ETP). Recognized and recommended by the Israel Ministry of Education, the program has 500 volunteer English tutors working with schoolchildren throughout the country, and this year, everyone had to be proficient at doing it online. Twenty IDC students became an integral part of ETP, helping with coordination, working online, and more.

Beyond volunteering opportunities, ESRA has also been a vital support to students. This year, due to the pandemic, many have been struggling to find jobs and manage financially. ESRA has offered part time employment positions to students, and has also provided four IDC students with full scholarships.

Having volunteered with the English Tutoring Program, Enrique Feinholz was a recipient this year of ESRA's Lola Katz Scholarship. He spoke at the online event honoring Lola Katz for the huge contribution she made as professional consultant to the program. Also present at the event, along with about 100 ESRA members and supporters, was IDC Vice President, Jonathan Davis, and Enrique's parents and grandmother, all the way from Mexico City!

"I first encountered ESRA during IDC Orientation Week when I saw a banner about volunteering with the name ESRA over one of the stands," Enrique explained at the event. He was soon involved in the ESRA office, learning how the organization is run, "but mainly busy welcoming new volunteers to the English Tutoring Program," he said, "as well as maintaining their information on our system and coordinating the activities of the wonderful group of university students from across the country who are volunteering in ESRA." Enrique went on to say that his education at IDC, along with what he's learned from ESRA, have inspired him to begin his own journey toward establishing an environmental non-profit.

In conclusion, he said, "Volunteering with ESRA gave me the opportunity to help the community while learning, and has made my time here one of the most meaningful in my life. And now, with this scholarship, I am one step closer to funding my university education, which is the next step in becoming the person I want to be."

ESRA looks forward to continued cooperation with IDC and to helping more students enrich their experience here and get involved in life in Israel.

 

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Wednesday, 04 August 2021

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