Before learning Hebrew as their common language, Valeva from Russia, & Louis of São Paulo fell in love and turned to Google Translate after moving to Israel as part of a science & technology scholarship program for high schoolers.
By Danny Brenner
Nicole Valeva grew up in the city of Ufa near the Ural Mountains in Russia, while Louis Weinstein was playing soccer on the beach near São Paulo, Brazil. A year ago, when they were both 15, they left their native countries, their families and friends and made aliyah to Israel to join the World ORT Anières Elite Academy’s science and technology scholarship program.
Nicole and Louis met at the WIZO high school on Moshav Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley, where they fell in love with the Hebrew language and with each other. They describe it as “love at first sight.”
When they first met, they had no common language.
“I only spoke Russian and Louis spoke Portuguese and English,” Nicole says. “So at first we would mostly show each other pictures and use Google Translate to understand [each other]. There’s no doubt that the desire to talk and understand each other encouraged us to spend more time studying Hebrew. As we learned the language better, our love blossomed.”
When Nicole was 10, her father told her about Israel and the Naaleh program for children and teen immigrants. Since then, Nicole had dreamed of moving to Israel.
“At age 15 the dream came true. I met a lot of smart kids here, but Louis is the smartest,” she says.
Louis, meanwhile, grew up as an outstanding soccer player and made aliyah after his older sister, who moved to Israel under the auspices of Naaleh. When asked about how safe he feels in Israel, Louis replies without hesitation: “I couldn’t feel more secure. São Paolo is much more dangerous.”
Louis, a gifted student in math and computer science, is currently taking a few classes a week at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and is a star player on the Maccabi Haifa youth soccer team.
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