December 18, 2008 / 21 Kislev 5769
“It is sad that many people have left Sderot because of the situation. But life goes on. And a program like the Jewish Agency's Net@, in which young people like me can already be internationally certified computer technicians while still in high school, is amazing.”
Diana Naftaliev, 17, came to Israel with her parents and younger sister from the Caucus region in 1994. She has lived in Sderot all of her life. “I still remember the time before the rocket attacks, when we used to play in the streets and weren’t afraid of anything,” says Diana. “But now, the younger kids are not able to do the same. They are growing up in the shadow of fear.”
Despite the situation in Sderot, Diana loves her city. And she is very enthusiastic about the Jewish Agency’s Net@ program, which she has been participating in over the past four years.
Net@ is an exciting after-school initiative that trains high school youth in the periphery of Israel to design, build and maintain computer networks while learning to work as part of a team and developing a sense of volunteerism and community leadership. Graduates of the four-year program, in which learning English is an important element, receive certification as advanced computer network technicians through global technology giant Cisco Systems.
“At first it was difficult,” explains Diana. “We studied four additional hours after school, twice a week. But the counselors were fantastic, they were real role models for us, and the course was really interesting. I met so many new friends and we did great volunteer projects in Sderot.”
At the same time, Diana knew that Net@ offered real opportunities for her future. “When I was called up for my first interview with the army and they heard that I was in the Net@ program they were very impressed. They need certified technicians in the prestigious technological units so we are a great asset for them.”
Diana is so grateful for the people who support Net@. She cannot imagine the last four years of her life without the program and knows that it will give her an edge when she goes to college. “Because of these people who care,” says Diana, “we are able to advance.