LIVE: Asian, African students flock to the Arava for agricultural training

Lia Simanjuntak, student leader at The Arava International Center for Agriculture Training (AICAT), in conversation with Maayan Hoffman, Deputy CEO of the Jerusalem Post Group.

JNF- USA: Maayan Hoffman and Lia Simanjuntak

Watch Live! Thursday, 15 June • 5 pm Israel Time|10 am EST

When in 2014 Indonesian student Lia Simanjuntak first heard about the opportunity of receiving professional agricultural training in Israel, her first reaction was deep curiosity. 

“I remember I tried to read about it as much as possible, I asked questions to other students who had joined and when I graduated, I decided to apply,” she said during an interview for the “Unexpected Israel” series, powered by Jewish National Fund-USA together with The Jerusalem Post.

Simanjuntak is currently in Israel for her second time attending a program at The Arava International Center for Agriculture Training (AICAT).

The center was established in 1994 with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, and today is further propelled with philanthropic investments from Jewish National Fund-USA and collaborations with organizations like the Kasser Joint Institute for Food, Water, and Energy Security.

It annually trains over 1,200 students from 16 countries in Africa and Asia, empowering them to create a better future for themselves and for their communities.

Simanjuntak now serves as a group leader, facilitating the experience for her fellow Indonesian students and offering a bridge between them and the farmers they work with.

“Our slogan here is ‘learning by doing’,” she explained. “In my view, this means looking at problems in a different way and find a solution to conquer them, just as the farmers here have learned how to conquer the difficult climate, water and soil conditions, with the help of new technologies.”

According to Simanjuntak, living in the Arava for the ten months of the program has also offered her and her fellow students the opportunity to connect with the country in a special way. 

“We have had the chance to visit many places in Israel, and learn more about the country and its history, and also about the technology it has developed to help not only advance agriculture here, but also for people like us from Indonesia and other nations in Africa and Asia,” she concluded.

For more information or to support AICAT, click here. To hear inspiring stories like Lia’s, register today for The Global Conference for Israel at