This month, our students took their final exams to conclude the fall semester at the Arava Institute. It was a meaningful, successful semester, with 39 students living together, learning together, and as is always the hope, forging cross-border bonds. We are excited to have even more students, 55 in total, registered for the spring semester in February.
2023 will be a year of new beginnings for the Institute. We plan to start construction on our first phase of the campus expansion. Once complete, we’ll be able to house up to 95 students, a significant increase from our current capacity. In addition, we expect to hire a Director for our new Arava Institute Regional Climate Change Center. Both of these developments will help us amplify our message and our work.
Just as our capacity is increasing, so too are the challenges we face. We have a new government in Israel, and we must deal with that reality. I am very hopeful that the new government will recognize the value in the work that the Arava Institute does – forging connections and fostering cooperation with our near and far neighbors over the last several decades. We are involved in an array of Track II regional environmental initiatives at the moment; I can think of nothing more important and timely, and it is my sincere hope that we will not be hindered in our efforts to help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change. The provision of basic human needs is not just the right thing to do, it is also critical to regional stability.