Publication date: 03/07/2019
Dear Friends, Alumni and Supporters,
KHA wishes you an enjoyable and relaxing summer!
Rivka exudes an air of optimism, confidence and appreciation that is contagious when she speaks. She is clearly proud of her roots and determined to be a role model for her community.
When I ask her if there was something meaningful she wanted to share from her studies this past year, she did not skip a beat, did not hesitate. Her vision and self-awareness are impressive.
Rivka explains that in addition to her two full days of study, she attends an additional one day program which she claims would not be possible for her if she hadn’t received the scholarship from Keren Hanan Aynor. In addition, she travels from her home in Haifa in Northern Israel to the college in Herzliya several times each week and attributes the ease of this commute mainly to her scholarship and the additional support she receives. “Knowing people are looking out for me gives me the peace of mind I need to concentrate on my studies and my future career.”
Being a student in the Diplomacy and Conflict Studies Master’s degree program at the IDC is very prestigious. Rivka studies entirely in English and is exposed to various students from many cultures and religions. The International environment is like a tapestry where she can learn from a myriad of opinions and viewpoints that speak to issues that she believes in. She pauses for a moment and admits – “simply the fact that I am able to study in English is unique for an Ethiopian Israeli. It’s a source of pride”
Rivka shares with me that she was witness to a terror attack years ago and how that traumatic event literally changed her life. In some indirect or more direct way, she suggests that her bearing witness put her on a trajectory that led her to these studies, to this direction her life is taking.
Being in this field feels very natural for her, like a calling and she knew that she would always pursue studies in this area. She reminisces and suggests that in her own way she had always done ‘hasbara’ but without any professional tools. In her studies, she is learning how to combine her personal hasbara with a more academic and professional one.
“Being in this program has become who I am, my identity. I feel I need to represent myself and my country, not only personally, but professionally as well.” She goes on to suggest that her role is double that of many of her peers, as she feels she can help others in an international arena understand what it means to be both an Ethiopian and an Israeli.
She contends that if the Ethiopian community is to truly become integrated into Israeli society, and achieve equality in the army, workforce and society at large, the road to social change is through education alone. She thanks Keren Aynor for helping a generation of Israelis achieve academic degrees and become role models for the next generation.
She concludes by sharing that it has been significant and meaningful for her to have received this scholarship. “It is a privilege to study in such a well-respected program.” It has been an opportunity for people not to pity her, rather to see her as an equal. For as she suggests,
” I have every right to be here. I can study and achieve just as well, if not better than my peers. All I need is some support along the way.”
She personally thanked the Aynor family for believing in her vision and drive and hopes we view her as a role model. “Having the family and the foundation behind me has given me an extra push to succeed in my studies and my life.”
Rivka Avera is currently studying in the Diplomacy and Conflict Studies Master’s degree program at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzaliya. She is the KHA Sarah Aynor (z”l ) scholarship recipient for the 2018\19 academic year.