The Full Circle of an ORT Education
Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, with more than 200,000 in Buenos Aires alone. Since 1936, ORT Argentina has been the shining star of both the Jewish community and Argentine educational system; today, it serves more than 80 percent of all Jewish students in the city, at campuses in Almagro and Belgrano.
But like many institutions, it has been hit hard by the country's economic travails, and more students find that they need scholarships to afford tuition. ORT America donors have answered the call, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support these students.
This past summer, 20 ORT America ORTists traveled to Buenos Aires to experience ORT Argentina firsthand—included was Leandro Margulis, an alumnus of ORT Argentina. It was a wonderful visit, and everyone had an opportunity to fully understand the challenges facing the Argentine Jewish community and to kvell in the accomplishments of the ORT students and schools.
A Circle of Support
One example of the difference ORT makes is Lucia, or "Luci," as she likes to be called, a fourth-year student at the Almagro campus who was one of the student guides.
During the visit, the group had the opportunity to meet with Anna, a grandmother, about how ORT Argentina has been a godsend to her family. A few years ago, Anna's daughter and son-in-law were killed in a car accident, leaving her to raise her three granddaughters. To ensure they received a Jewish education, Anna knew to reach out to the ORT Almagro campus. Since then, ORT Argentina has provided financial, emotional and social support for the family.
Through her tears, Anna shared how her oldest granddaughter is now one of the top students in the computer science track, and how she hoped that her sisters would follow in her footsteps.
At that moment, Luci walked into the room and gave Anna a big hug. The "aha" moment hit everyone at the same time—the completing of the circle from an ORT supporter, to an ORT school, to a family benefiting from an ORT program—in one virtuous cycle of support, love and success.
The circle doesn't end there; at the end of our visit, Luci asked if there was anyone she could network with in the United States who was involved in the high-tech industry. Everyone turned and looked to Leandro. He was thrilled to connect with and mentor Luci as an ORT Argentina alumnus, a successful businessman and an ORTist.
Circles begun, circles completed—this is what supporting an ORT education creates—anywhere in the world that an ORT program exists.
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