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Arava Institute Director’s Blog – February 2013

Welcome, Spring 2013 Students!

students desert walkThis month we welcomed an extraordinary group of 40 new students and interns to our campus community. I can speak on behalf of the entire staff here at the institute when I say that these bright, enthusiastic students bring us high hopes for this semester – one full of hard, valuable work and meaningful diaglogue and trust-building. The students have already begun their classes in subjects like Ecohealth, Water Resources in the Middle East, and Environmental Ethics. They’ve also kicked off their semester by participating in a soccer tournament, several socials, current affairs discussions, film screenings, yoga classes, and communal dinners. Many thanks are in order to our Campus Life team for making such a smooth transition possible for these new students.

David Lehrer

US Ambassador Visits the Arava Institute on Renewable Energy Trip

Uri with AmbassadorWe were honored to briefly host the American Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, who visited Kibbutz Ketura, the Arava Power Company, and the Arava Institute this month. The trip was intended to explore and acknowledge the strides in renewable energy development in the region, including the research  and education programs conducted by AIES. Ambassador Shapiro received a presentation of the Validation Center inside the Arava Institute’s Research and Visitors Park in memory of Dr. Eugen Fischel and Dina Markowicz, by one of our Masters students, who also spoke to the Ambassador about his own research. The Ambassador continues to be very supportive of AIES, and even called himself a “fan”of the institute. 
A full summary of the visit can be read in this article featured in the Jerusalem Post.

Submitted by Kayla Santosuosso

Congratulations and Farewell to Masters Student Bara Wahbeh

Bara and TareqA heartfelt congratulations goes out to Bara Wahbeh, who successfully defended his Masters thesis this month at Ben-Gurion University. The research, titled “Hydrogen Production via Boron Hydrolysis by Thermochemical Cycles” was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, the Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the Arava Institute. The research simulates hydrogen production in a car by reacting steam with boron particles, which produces hydrogen gas and yields no greenhouse gases. Bara’s next step will be to pursue the creation of a prototype for this research, with eventual goals of putting the technology on the market. Bara was given exceedingly high marks for his defense, to virtually no one’s surprise at the institute.  Bara has been an integral part of our community for several years now,  and we are of course sad to see him go. But we have the utmost confidence in his success as a scientist, a businessman, and a changemaker, and are excited to watch his plans unfold.

Submitted by Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed and Kayla Santosuosso

A New Student Lounge Debuts on Campus 

Students in LoungeThe campus welcomed the opening of a new student lounge this semester!The lounge was designed by a team of staff members, who envisioned it as a multipurpose space. The aim was to meet the various needs of all members of the campus community, meaning everything from facilitating study groups and lectures, to encouraging quiet reflection time and small social gatherings. In the lounge there is a kitchen, a dining area, a lounge with couches and a television, as well as a small “cyber café”, where students and interns can surf the internet in a quiet space. A visitor to the student lounge can at once see students debating environmental ethics, skyping with their families, and painting signs for the new compost areas. The student life team hosted campus life meetings, as well as icebreakers, film screenings and a session learning about sustainable living at the Arava Institute.The lounge has also served as an ideal space for weekly Current Affairs sessions during which participants engage in exploration and debate of the world’s recent events.  We are grateful to the JNF USA and Danielle and Irving Grossman, whose generous support made this lounge possible.

Submitted by Abra Berkowitz 

Alumni Gathering Held in Sakhnin

alumni gathering girlsLast month, about 40 members of the Arava Alumni Peace & Environment Network  (AAPEN) gathered at the beautiful and unique sustainable building of the Townships Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ) in the Arab town of Sakhnin, Israel. This gathering was a part of an ongoing intention to meet every month or so, and to strengthen the connections within AAPEN. The gathering allowed alumni from various years to get to know each other, and to hear about different initiatives and projects that are being held throughout the Middle-East. During the weekend, we got to learn about environmental issues of Sakhnin’s area, to discuss AAPEN issues, and even plant some trees on the building’s grounds.  We would like to thank Dr. Hussein Tarabiye, TAEQ manager, who invited AAPEN members, and who helped us with organizing the successful gathering.  TAEQ is the Arava Institute’s partner in the USAID sponsored YEEPI project. We hope many more gatherings will take place, in Israel, Jordan and Palestine, as they continue to remind us that maintaining our connection as alumni is very much possible, despite political barriers and borders.

Submitted by members of AAPEN

One thought on “Arava Institute Director’s Blog – February 2013

  1. It is thrilling to see the continuing development of the Arava Institute. Year by year it does more and more.