(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Ángel Dalmazzo, a student from Córdoba in Argentina, was the winner of this year's 'Get to Know Israel' quiz, which took place for the fourth year in a row in Latin America. The first stage of the competition took place on 7th November 2011 at ORT Argentina's Yatay Campus in Buenos Aires. The winner was awarded with a special prize: an all expense paid trip to Israel. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), winner Ángel Dalmazzo, a 24 year old student from the Carlos Paz district in Córdoba, described the experience as a "very positive" one, and said that he has a "great desire to visit Israel," and that he expected the visit to be a "a very positive and intense experience".
This time around, the quiz focused on "A Green Israel", featuring ecological topics. The competition was held in partnership with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-The Jewish National Fund.
The competition was geared for BA and MA students in Latin-American universities up to the age of 35, who have never visited Israel. Both Jewish and non-Jewish students could participate. The contest simultaneously took place in Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama. The initial selection process for the competition was held in September, where participating students answered multiple choice questions online at a pre-appointed time in their locality. The top ten students of each country, who received the highest marks on the multiple choice exam, passed through to the second stage, where they were quizzed orally by a local panel of judges. They were required to answer 40 questions. The winner from each of the 12 Latin American countries participating in the competition will travel to Israel later on in the year.
Dalmazzo described his preparations for the final stage of the competition as "very difficult", which is in no small part due to the fact that he is also in the midst of exams at the National University of Cordoba, where he studying for a degree in modern literature.
"Before the competition, I knew very little about the modern State of Israel," Dalmazzo added. "The tremendous development in science, economics, technology and environmental issues such as ecology and environmental quality caught my attention."
According to the Israeli ambassador to Argentina, Daniel Gazit, "the most important thing is that students get to truly know Israel in depth, and not just through the news. If we could, we would bring everybody to Israel, because the best way to get to know Israel is to visit it." Regarding the competition, he added that it "simultaneously took place in all Latin American countries where we have an Israeli ambassador or consulate."
Director of ORT Argentina Adrián Moscovich said that the whole idea of the competition was to "advance knowledge about the State of Israel, and to involve university students from many different provinces in Argentina who are interested in learning more about Israel."
Edy Huberman, the director of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael in Argentina, said that "this competition is a clear indication that Israel is a place that everyone can come and visit, and to get to know it in depth." He emphasized that the competition was an opportunity for candidates to "get to know Israel through written texts, and for the winners, to get to know Israel through experiencing it."
Emanuel Elbert, who is currently learning to be a Shochet (kosher ritual slaughterer) at the Rabinical Seminary of Latin America, came second place in the competition, and in third place came Claudia Speranza, a student of production and distribution of critical texts and artistic media at the National University Institution of Arts (IUNA). The other finalists in the competition were Edgardo Lovell (Medicine), Diego Cancinos (Industrial Engineering), both of who learn at the same college as the winner Dalzazzo, Patricia Silva, María Eugenia Beccaria (law), Micaela Priotti (Accounting), Blas Pascal, Mirko Rupani (Civil Engineering), Ana Lin (Medicine), and Ariel González, a masters student who is studying Political Science and Sociology at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO).
The following personalities sat on the panel of judges: Daniel Gazit, Adrián Moscovich, the president of the Israel-Argentina Cultural Association Atilio Alterini, and the director of the education department for KKL-JNF in Latin America Dvora Kolsky. Also participating in the panel were the Israel embassy cultural and press attaché Yoav Adler, and other embassy officials.
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