Friday, November 21, 2014

Sustainable Student Village Brings 300 New Scholars to Southern Israel

While rockets fell in the south of Israel this summer, the people of Sderot were busy building. During Operation Protective edge residents of Sderot worked round-the-clock to complete a new project – a student housing project that will bring approximately 300 students from all over Israel to study at Sapir College, the local university, this academic year. The southern community of Sderot, known as a target city for rocket attacks and often referred to as the “bomb shelter capital of the world’’, was hit especially hard last summer and is struggling to get back on its feet, physically, financially, and socially.

The sustainable student village constructed of repurposed shipping containers, built by the Ayalim Association – a grassroots movement on a mission to rejuvenate hard-up areas from the Negev and Galilee, took little time compared to traditional construction measures. The village, one of thirteen built by the association, serves multiple purposes— to bring bright students, young families, and a new sense of liveliness to the region in an effort to revitalize, re-build, and to foster sustainable social change.

In the past, living on-campus was not a popular option among students due to the grim depiction of the region, causing students to seek housing in nearby moshavim and kibbutzim. The goal of the newly constructed student housing project is to change that notion, and inspire hope.

“By building a new student village in Sderot and bringing hundreds of young adults to live in Sderot, we will not only be giving an ‘energy boost’ and renewed hope to this city, we will also send an important message: we do not break, we build,” according to a statement made on behalf of the Ayalim Association.

The new village –built not only to attract young intellectuals to the region – also serves as a means to spur positive and sustainable social change. In exchange for housing, students are required to volunteer 10 hours per week with children, youth, and seniors in the community, which Ayalim believes will be instrumental in addressing the region’s educational, social, and physical woes.

Israeli officials, Ayalim Association members, and residents of Southern Israel, are aspiring to a new paradigm – a result of the student village – that will spark urban renewal and serve as a remarkable example for cities throughout Israel and the world, looking for solutions to rebuild communities, rejuvenate cultures, and inspire hope.

To read the full article by Israel21c, click here.


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