May 21 2008 / 16 Iyar 5768
“It is an honor to lead the Net@ program in the Western Galilee. I am touching the lives of youth living in the periphery – teaching them to become certified computer network technicians while helping them to explore new ways of thinking that empowers them to be socially-conscious young leaders.”
Ronen Amsalem, 38, grew up in the northern city of Acre, and spent seven years serving in Israel’s professional army. It is here that Ronen developed his love for computers, and received cutting-edge computer training. Upon leaving the army, Ronen continued his college education in computer engineering, while working as a computer teacher.
In 2002 Ronen and his wife Merav, a pharmacist, moved to the town of Shlomi, close to the Lebanese border. “We were looking for a quiet place to raise a family with lots of greenery, and we wanted to do our part in strengthening the Galilee,” says Ronen.
When Ronen was offered the opportunity to start the Net@ program in Shlomi’s regional high school he felt that it was a perfect fit. “I wanted to help kids from the periphery to move forward and to break the negative stereotypes many of them have about themselves.”
Net@ is an exciting after school initiative that trains disadvantaged 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 three-year program, in which learning English is an important element, proudly receive internationally recognized CCENT certification, through technology giant Cisco Systems, as advanced network technicians.
“My students in Net@ have to work very hard to be in this program. It is run twice a week in the late afternoon and involves homework above and beyond their regular work. Because this is a regional high school, some of these kids leave home at six in the morning and don’t get home until nine at night. But they love it,” says Ronen. “They are learning that if they invest in education, they can succeed.”
“Net@ opens doors to prestigious technological units in the IDF, higher education and high-tech professions while helping to raise students’ self-esteem and confidence,” says Ronen. “I see the kids flourishing in the program and it is incredible.”
Net@ is a partnership between the Jewish Agency for Israel, Cisco Systems, Tapuach - the Israeli Society for the Advancement of the Information Age and Keren Hayesod.
Net@ is helping thousands of children across the country achieve new levels of personal, academic and professional success. Learn more about this exciting initiative here. With your help, the Jewish Agency can help youth pursue excellent education and social goals, develop local leadership and contribute to their community. Join us in our efforts.