Publication date: 03/05/2021
“If they can do it, so can I”
Samuel Chole, age 32, Second year medical student
at Bar Ilan University
2021 recipient of a special scholarship encouraging achievement in the natural sciences
generously donated by Mrs. Rivka Bitterman
Samuel speaks softly and from his remarks, I find him to be a very bright, hardworking sensitive and responsible young man. He is highly motivated and driven to succeed at his studies and is well on his way to doing so.
In 1995, at the age of 7, Samuel made aliya from Addis Ababa with his parents and three siblings. The family lived in an absorption centre in Haifa and Samuel attended the local school. He describes the experience as somewhat lonely and difficult as there were very few other Ethiopian students in the neighbourhood. The other native Israeli children were curious about him and he felt like an anomaly. While relaying his childhood memories, he described not seeing himself or others like him in his textbooks and wondered what Israeli society thought of him. Questions about his identity abound, as well as and the representation of Ethiopians in Israeli culture, and he notes how things are somewhat different for Ethiopian Israeli youth in 2021.
The transition to his new life in Israel wasn’t always easy – although he learned the language quickly, it took time for him and his family to adjust to different cultural norms and mentality. They were all highly motivated to fit in, which he feels did eventually help in the integration process.
Since Samuel’s parents were teachers in Ethiopia, they placed enormous value on education and always encouraged Samuel and his siblings’ natural curiosity, pursuit of their interests and academic success. His parents made sure they had afterschool enrichment classes and other activities, even at their own personal expense. Samuel recalls that from a young age, he felt a sense of responsibility to assist his family financially and at the age of 13, he went to work in the local market in Ashdod.
His childhood days were spent in Ashdod, taking classes in biology, physics, at the music conservatory, in advanced classes in the “Futures” program and volunteering at the local community centre.
Samuel describes these events quite nonchalantly, with a sense of humility and solace usually reserved for a more “average” student. When I compliment him on his drive, his motivation and his incredible wisdom and success even from a young age, he seems to shrug it off, barely accepting a well-deserved compliment.
Samuel served in the IDF’s combat engineering unit for three years and recalls being highly influenced by other young people with high ambitions for the future. He realized through conversations with them that if they can do it, so could he. He decided to aim for the stars and maybe for the first time, was sure he could get there! This was when he solidified his desire to attend medical school in the future.
Prior to beginning his medical degree at Bar Ilan University, Samuel completed a three-year Bachelor’s degree in bio medical sciences at Hebrew University. He currently lives with his girlfriend in Hadera.
During the past year, when COVID-19 became a huge part of our reality, Samuel volunteered with Magen David Adom emergency services (“MADA”) doing COVID testing and working with elderly people in isolation. He enjoyed playing such a meaningful role and assisting those in need in such difficult circumstances. His incredible altruism is palpable throughout our conversation.
Samuel thanks Keren Hanan Aynor profusely for the opportunity to receive a scholarship and fulfil his dreams. He appreciates the support and is grateful not to be doing it alone.
Samuel views this time in his life as a journey. We at KHA are so proud of his successes and the path he is on and will be here if and whenever he needs us …every step of the way.