There is a very important issue that has been raised several times in our school; refugees. In Israel, as of 2014, there are 53,636 asylum seekers from Southern Africa (Eritrea, Sudan, Chad and more)1. With time, many organizations have been opened in order to aid them, mostly targeted at children (day cares and scouts groups). There is, however, a particular organization, in collaboration with our school, that teaches Hebrew and English to the adult population, by the name ARDC (African Refugee Development Center). Starting from the year of 2006 they have been aiding asylum seekers in renewing visas, applying for asylum status and, of course, providing help with acquiring language knowledge. On the walls of the place you will be able to find blackboards with markers for the teacher’s disposal and quotes such as “Einstein was a refugee”. There are three large classrooms and teachers volunteering in the evenings of the week.
For the past few months students from EMIS have been going to the central bus station in Tel Aviv to participate in the teaching of both English and Hebrew. It is to this same bus station that refugees were first brought, one that is located in a poor neighborhood in the southern part of the city. The refugees did not receive the warm welcome some might have imagined along their way; many being deported in the year 2012.
On my last visit there I was lucky enough to have a short interview with David Sverdlov; a tutor and coordinator for this organization. He came to Israel for a year, just before commencing his second degree in law in the U.S.A. His intentions were to help society and indeed he “liked what’s going on” there in ARDC. He described the organization as “very dedicated and passionate about this specific cause.”
“It is an important cause to learn about which is swiped under the radar. It is a big aspect of society; learning.”
I asked him about the situation in his country (U.S.A) and whether refugees are accepted. “Mostly immigration issue, but it is becoming more about refugees; awareness is rising but they are not defined ‘refugees’ like here in Israel”.
“I think it’s special”, says Emily Primack, another volunteer here in the organization, referring to adult education. “They choose to come here, so they are more dedicated”. And I must agree with her. My students come prepared for quizzes, do their homework and make it difficult for me to end the lesson; I never thought I could enjoy teaching as much as I do.
All the tutees that come there get a certificate with the amount of hours they have learnt when they decide to finish their course. It helps them later with matters such as visas and work places since it is a proof that they had been learning the language and are serious.
If you wish to read more about the organization and find out ways in which you can help (under the tab get involved) please refer to the link below: http://ardc-israel.org References:
http://www.hias.org.il/pdf/%D7%9E%D7%91%D7%A7%D7%A9%D7%99-%D7%9E%D7%A7%D7%9C%D7%98-%D7%95%D7%A4%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%98%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C-%D7%A9%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%A0%D7%A4%D7%95%D7%A6%D7%95%D7%AA.aspx1 Written by Maayan Agmon Edited by Maria Tirnovanu