Interview with Dina Part 2 Q: What motivates (or demotivates) students to consider the Rothberg International School?

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A: I think the #1 motivation is to be part of a world-renowned institution, a world-renowned university that indeed was established by some of the intellectual giants of the last century Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, etc…It is the only Israeli university in the top 100 (internationally); they want to be part of that outstanding institution, and by spending a semester there or a year, they do that.

Another motivation could be to spend some time outside their natural environment of their home university where they spend 4 years… and so it’s the excitement, the adventure, the sheer adventure of spending a semester overseas. Israel can really offer them a bouncing board to discover other countries in the area; they can travel to Greece; they can go to visit Egypt, Jordan, and elsewhere.

And part of it could be to bond with other students who happen to be Jewish from around the world. On the one hand this is Jewish continuity…people come and they meet Jewish friends from all over the world, and they (with their roommates) bond – this is a relationship they have and enjoy for the rest of their lives. But if there is a student who is not Jewish I do not want to make him/her feel unwelcome, because this is absolutely not the case. Remember, all the students live together, which is a wonderful blend – I always make this joke “Welcome to Babylon” because if you go into the dormitories in this brand new facility, top of the line in all standards with anywhere else in the world, you hear Arabic, and you hear Hebrew, and you hear Spanish, and English and German…it’s a mish-mash of languages like you can’t believe!

And everybody lives together, so you could have a roommate who is Jewish, or non-Jewish and it’s just fantastic. So if you really want to get an international experience and become a citizen of the world, spend a day at the Student Village. It’s funny – we have this game when we walk down at English Bay, let’s see how long it will take before we hear English! You hear Iranian and you hear all the languages in the world (laughs).

The university is happy to receive requests, and if somebody has a specific request the university will do its utmost to accommodate – so if somebody wanted, for example, to share a room with someone who keeps kosher, it’s like any good hotel – they will try their best to help them – it all depends on the request and the demand.


Q: What are some of the reasons that might prevent people from going to HU?

A: They might hear of Israel as a place of conflict – most of the news coming out is negative news about the Arab/Israeli conflict and the conflict Israel has with some of its neighbors. When they sit in beautiful British Columbia and they need to decide whether they’d like to go and spend a semester in Sydney, Berlin or in Jerusalem they might say - because they are also subject to the influences of their peer groups and family - that unless they do not have a relative in Israel, or has not yet visited the country to see with their own eyes its richness, the feel, and be able to test the reality, that they might say they’re afraid of going.

Also, some lack of geographic knowledge…sometimes you hear about unrest in Iran, or about the Gulf area and people will ask about its impact in Israel, and because there is this lack of understanding about the distances, they don’t realize that it has nothing to do with our region in Israel at all. But this is very natural, you know, I think it is very normal that someone has this hesitation and then they need to figure out how they want to deal with it. I’m an Israeli so I may not be that objective in their eyes, but I come and go on a regular basis, so I can only share my own experience.

Do you have any other thoughts about spending a year studying in Jerusalem? Do you agree or disagree with Dina? Let us know!

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