There is no doubt that Rachel Gold is excited. She was just awarded a Fulbright student grant to study in Argentina.
'I'm going to Cordoba,' she explains. 'I'm going to be hosted by an NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] called the Center for the Environment and Human Rights.'
In 1994, during the transition to democracy, Argentina guaranteed access to drinking water in its constitution, regarding it as a basic human right. Rachel, who graduates from the University of Washington Law School this June, will do research on how that country is using human rights to protect a natural resource and how this becomes a tool for the environmental movement.
'Argentina is interesting because it has [this] right to a healthy environment,' Gold says. This developing legal precedent makes this 'an awesome opportunity to go and study the Argentine legal system.' Rachel says the application process for the Fulbright, a grant program developed by Sen. William Fulbright after World War II to foster better international relations through education, was similar to applying to the university.
'There's a lot,' she says, including a statement, a research proposal, letters of recommendation and a language evaluation.
Some Fulbright placements don't require language skills, but most of the ones in Latin and South America require Spanish, so Rachel is fortunate to speak the language. Her dad was in bi-lingual education and her parents raised their kids speaking English and Spanish.
'It's an incredible gift,' she observes, one that has allowed her and her siblings to travel extensively in Spanish-speaking countries.
Gold and her husband, Josh Miller, who runs the Jconnect program at Hillel, will be leaving for points south in September. They plan to connect with Cordoba's Jewish community, Josh tells me, primarily through the Hillel that just opened there. (Cordoba is Argentina's second largest city; the country's first Hillel is, of course, in Buenos Aires.) Rachel's program is eight months long and they hope to spend another two months in South America before returning to their native California to live.
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In more college news, Laura Kanter, who graduated from Seattle's Garfield High School in 2004, was recently elected co-chair of the Oberlin Hillel.
Laura grew up in Congregation Beth Shalom and her mother, Linda, tells me that while Laura wasn't especially active in Jewish activities during high school, she has loved being involved at Oberlin.
The college has a large Jewish population, about one-quarter of its 3,000-member student body, so the Hillel is an active place with Friday night dinners prepared by the kosher (and halal) co-op, services using the Oberlin siddur (prayerbook) and programs.
'The Shabbats there are wonderful,' says Mom, and Laura ' who is studying neurobiology ' never misses them.
Jewish prospective students are welcome to attend a Friday night service and dinner when they visit the campus. For more information contact email@example.com.
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Usually it is parents who call or write to kvell ' Yiddish for sharing joyful news ' about their kids, but this time we heard from Temple Beth Am youth director Dorothy Glass about two students in the north Seattle Reform congregation's Am Yisrael High program.
Marley Zeno is one of 60 teens from around the U.S. selected to participate in Summer JAM 2006 in the 'other' Washington. The Jewish activism program based at George Washington University is run by Panim: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values. Participants conduct community service projects, study Jewish texts and values and get advocacy training from experts in domestic and international policy.
Glass comments that Marley's 'continual work on behalf of diversity and social action at both Am Yisrael High'and as president of the diversity club at Overlake High School make her a natural for the program.'
Sam Spector, a junior at University Prep and active at Temple Beth Am, was frustrated by how little was being done in the community to counter clashes in belief that lead to or worsen conflict. He joined the Interfaith Youth Leadership Alliance and together with Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Unitarian-Universalist and Bahai youth, spent months working to stage a festival that would enlighten and entertain others about Christian, Jewish and Muslim people.
The event, 'Many Lamps, One Light,' was a sold-out success last month. It included a market square with displays, games and foods from around the world, and a concert with the Total Experience Gospel Choir, Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes, Beth Alef Singers and Lutsinga African Ensemble.
Sam calls the experience 'life changing.'
An activist for AIPAC, he plans to serve in the IDF after graduation, but is still working on ways to bring diverse people together. When he asked the council how to thank them for all he has learned, they asked him to plan an interfaith teen service at Beth Am, which he is doing.
Beth Am added 11th and 12th grades to their education program about four years ago and has about 50 to 75 percent of students continuing on with the Tuesday night school after their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year, depending on the class.
For information about the congregation's youth programs contact Dorothy at 206-525-0915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.