Pulling from the inside

By KARIN KLOOSTERMAN
March 2, 2006 14:42
1 minute read.
ethiopian student at ta uni

yardena fanta 88.298. (photo credit: )

 
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When Yardena Fanta landed in Israel from the village of Macha on Operation Moses in 1985, she didn't know how to read or write. Today she is completing a doctorate at Tel Aviv University in education counseling and asking why fellow Ethiopian communities are lagging far behind the norm. Ethiopians, she says, are undergoing a difficult transition from the pre-industrial landscape of Ethiopia to post-industrial Israel. In Ethiopia, people did not dream about going to university. Once in Israel, the Ethiopian Jewish community underwent a radical transformation in less than 24 hours, "the time it takes to travel from Ethiopia to Israel," she recalls. "I know how traumatic and demanding the adjustment has been for families. My own parents and nine brothers and sisters made aliya in 1985." Although Fanta's parents do not read or write, and she was not able to get the kind of support that other Israeli children would at home, her parents gave her another kind of support: encouragement - something she aspires to pass on to other young Ethiopians. Fanta's doctoral research deals with the cognitive and cultural changes that the Ethiopian community underwent after immigration to Israel, specifically in regard to scholastic achievements in the fields of science and technology. The fact that she earned a doctoral fellowship validated her mission of getting more youngsters on the path to become engineers, computer scientists and hi-tech professionals. "The kids don't believe in themselves, and the teachers don't believe in them because of where they come from. Many Ethiopians are still afraid to come to university and think it is too high for them. We bring them to the university to be friends with students and show them that it's possible - not like it was in Ethiopia. When you show them, and they believe they can do it, then they will do it."

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