Meron Tefera, a senior majoring in biology at Rene Cassin High School in French Hill, plays Fanta in the play, Hilm. Meron has a ready smile, a sweet voice and a special charm. She lives with her mother, who was a government official in Ethiopia and now works as a cleaner; her father, a customs official turned guard and a younger sister, Bat El. The family made aliya in 1998, lived for two years in the Givat Hamatos mobile housing site, moved to Neveh Ya'acov and just last month, moved again to Adam, a settlement outside Jerusalem. Meron participates in Netzana (Independence), a youth-initiated traditional Ethiopian dance troupe in Neveh Ya'acov. Two years ago, she was chosen by Intel as one of three young people from the Intel Computer Clubhouse in Neveh Ya'acov to travel to Boston and meet with hundreds of other children from around the world. Last year, she received a certificate of excellence in school. "My dream is to get accepted to university, to study so I can become something," she proclaims. "I don't want to work as a cleaner. No way! I'll study hard and I'll have a profession. I don't know what yet, but I'll be something. "During the summer I worked as a cleaner and it was really hard. I began to value more what my mother does. I hated it! Cleaning all day is a nightmare! I'm still working but I'll have to quit because it doesn't leave me time to do school work. "Part of my money just went. Bat El wanted me to buy her clothes and I bought us backpacks and school supplies because I know with the new house, it's hard for my parents. I'm saving the rest to buy a bed. "Everyone says it must be so much fun to be in 12th grade and near the end of school, but it's not exactly that way. It's a little scary. "I'll finish school. I'll go into the army. There will be no more theater troupe. I'll be in an unknown environment. I'll have more responsibility. It's a stage of life you have to get to. Like every stage. It's a little scary. But it'll be fine. "In Neveh Ya'acov there are some stupid kids who call out "kushi" when you walk by. But it's only the bad kids who do that, the ones who drink and curse and yell. The truth is, there are also Ethiopian kids who deteriorated and are with them. Good kids got ruined. "I remember one boy from Givat Hamatos. He was good. Quiet. Now he quit school and he smokes and wanders around with them. "When you call the health fund, there are recordings in Hebrew and Russian but not in Amharic. Some parents can't speak a work of Hebrew and their kids have to miss school to translate for them when they go to the doctor. So the kids are bringing up the parents instead of the opposite. The parents lose authority. They're frustrated. "I really miss my family in Ethiopia. I grew up with my cousins. We are so close. I slept at their house, they slept at mine. When we speak on the phone, we all cry. The longing doesn't lessen with the years. "I wish for my mom that her family would be here, because I know how much she misses them. And for my Dad, that he would do the kind of work he did in Ethiopia because I know working as a guard is frustrating. "For myself, I wish my mother's youngest sister, Tshaina, would come because she grew up with us - she's like my sister. "I don't experience racism at school, but I know it exists. I connect with Ethiopians and faranjim [whites]. My best friend is Ethiopian, but before her, my best friend was white. She moved away. My friend asked me if I would marry a white person. I said, if I love him and he loves me and we understand each other, what's on the outside doesn't matter. I don't judge people from the outside. "It's what's inside that counts." - R.M.

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