October 16, 2007 / 4 Cheshvan 5768
Aviva Dago, an Ethiopian immigrant, glows as she works on experiments at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The Jewish Agency’s Sparks of Science program has opened up a whole new world for her, a world that will give her the scholastic ability and the self-esteem necessary to advance in today's science and technology fields.
Aviva Dago (15) was born in Addis Ababa. At the tender age of three months she made aliyah with her parents on Operation Solomon. The young family lived in the Jewish Agency’s absorption center in Kiryat Shmona and in a caravan site in Haifa until finally settling in Rehovot.
Aviva worked hard in school, and was an excellent student. In eighth grade her teacher recommended her for the Jewish Agency’s Sparks of Science program. Sparks of Science is an informal education program that provides unique technology and science enrichment for Ethiopian youth. Currently running in cooperation with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and the Technion in Haifa, the three-year program enriches participants’ knowledge of mathematics, advanced technologies, exact sciences and English.
“I love the program, I especially love chemistry” says Aviva. “It is different from school. We go to the Weizmann Institute and do really interesting experiments using their equipment. They also give us materials to take home so we can show our families some of the things we are learning. The program also gave me the opportunity to travel to Turkey to participate in a NASA summer camp – an unforgettable experience.”
In June, 2006 Aviva was chosen, with 15 other Israeli youth, to participate in an international NASA Space Camp in Turkey. For one incredible week they were immersed in learning and experiencing space technology. “We took part in interactive simulations, felt what it was like to be weightless, learned how it feels to take off and land. It was amazing.”
While Aviva was at the camp, the second Lebanon war broke out, and the Israelis did not know about it until a few days later. “It was really scary to think that we just left the country for a week, and when we returned we were in the middle of a war.”
In addition to Sparks of Science, Aviva assists the youth counselors in the Jewish Agency’s Acharai program for youth at risk. “I see a lot of Ethiopian kids going the wrong way and I want to do something to help,” says Aviva.
Aviva is now in 10th grade and has started her high school matriculation exams. She hopes to finish with honors and to join the army’s academic program.
Please join the Jewish Agency in ensuring that greater numbers of Ethiopian youth have the scholastic ability and the self-esteem necessary to advance in today's science and technology fields. Donate to the Sparks of Science program, the innovative three-year technology enrichment program for Ethiopian students in 9th through 12th grades, click here.
To learn more about Sparks of Science, click here.