Hair design teacher Chana Golev (2nd from right) with students
Yuliana (not her real name) came to the WIZO Secondary Vocational School in Jerusalem in the tenth grade after she was expelled from her previous school for truancy.
Despite the fact that she was a very intelligent and bright young lady, her level of education was severely lacking. Her mother, Paulina, who had brought Yuliana to Israel from Russia when she was a small child, worked as a manicurist. Almost all her clients are Russian.
Paulina does not speak Hebrew very well, and Yuliana translated for her at the first interview at the school. Paulina became quite emotional as her daughter spoke for her in Hebrew:
“I came to Israel because I wanted a better life for my daughter. It has been hard for me to find work in my former career (as a pharmacist) because I struggled with the Hebrew and I blame myself for Yuliana’s educational shortcomings because I just could not help her with her homework. In the end, she stopped asking me to help her and she did not even discuss school with me, so I was not aware that anything was wrong. I feel as if I have failed as a mother.”
Yuliana admitted that instead of going to school, she would go into the city, and spend time walking around the fashion shops, and stare into the hairdressers’ windows longing for a purpose to her life. At the Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family Vocational School, she found that purpose and more.
With a tailored program of one-to-one tutoring and remedial learning and the academic support of the Mahut Centre, the gaps in Yuliana’s education firmly closed. As a vocation, she chose to study in the hair design track and showed a remarkable flair for styling and cutting under the excellent guidance of hairdressing teacher, Chana Golev. Members of the public who came to the salon at the WIZO Secondary Vocational School to be models for the students to practice upon always sought out Yuliana and were delighted with her work. Yuliana did not miss one day of school and always arrived with a smile on her face.
“I cannot begin to tell you how much I hated school then and how much I love it today. I just could not find the motivation to learn because I could feel a rift growing between my mom and me when she was no longer able to help me with my homework because of her Hebrew. Yet, here at the WIZO Secondary Vocational School all that has changed. One of the school social workers even visited us at home and persuaded my mother to continue with the Hebrew Ulpan, so now I practice my hairstyling on my mom, and she practices her Hebrew on me. We are just so much happier!" Yuliana said.
Yuliana achieved full matriculation and a diploma in hairdressing studies. After completing her national army service, she looks forward to working in one of Jerusalem’s top hairdressing salons – the same one she used to stare through the windows at when she was playing truant from her former school.
“Who would believe it? Now I have a future working there. For that, I must thank Chana who put her heart and soul into my hairdressing studies and all the staff at the WIZO Secondary Vocational School. At last I can look back and say, school days really are happy days!”
(Names changed to preserve anonymity)
(Photo for illustration purposes only)