Israel trip a dream come true

Tessa Satherley, recipient of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, with Rotary Club of Lismore West president John Miller (left) and secretary Norm Robinson.

A physicist, nuclear security expert or UN diplomat. Lismores Tessa Satherley sure aims high when it comes to job hunting.

While she hasnt decided exactly what path to travel yet, she wants to change the world for the better, and Rotary believes she has what it takes.

Tessa was recently awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship worth $US23,000 ($24,500) to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel for one year.

It is the first time in its 47-year historythat the Rotary Club of Lismore West has sponsored a student for the scholarship.

Tessa achieved the highest UAI at Lismore High School in 2002 and has always had a keen interest in the Middle East. The Arab/Israeli conflict was one of her main areas of study in Year 11 and she has been learning Hebrew while doing a double science/arts degree at Melbourne University and working part-time.

She is passionate about seeing the peace process move forward and believes a year studying and living in Israel will give her a greater understanding of the complexities involved and how the issues can be tackled.

I think that in many respects both so-called sides arguments are valid. You cant say that either Israelis or Palestinians per se are the bad guys. Its a morally ambiguous conflict because both groups are hurting badly and seek free, peaceful lives; but I think they both honestly experiencethe other as a threat to this, so everyone feels their war is defensive. Then the wars vindicate everyones belief that theyre threatened, justifying more defence. And it goes on, Tessa said. Ive done a lot of study at uni but being at the coal-face, conversing with people on the ground, is entirely different from reading about facts and figures in a textbook. Its no good standing outside the region airing my opinions like this or dictating solutions. I think the way to help the peace cause as a westerner is to first achieve authentic compassion, so I need tolearn the languages and understand first-hand what its like to live inthat war zone day to day.

Tessa says when she found out about the scholarship, she and her mum ran into the street and squealed a bit.

Im tinkled pink as they say, ecstatic, all that stuff, she said. And Im deeply grateful to Rotary and my local club, Lismore West. I will be able to realise one of the great dreams for my life.

Tessa also recently won the 2007 prize for the most outstanding student in final-year experimental physics at Melbourne University.

While she is undecided, Tessa believes one job where she could have an effective voice is as a nuclear physicist and security expert.

I love physics and politics and I care about the planet. Logically, nuclear security is probably the main intersection of these things, though I wish it wasnt even a problem for humanity, she said. I think its really important tohave scientists who try to protect humansfrom misuse and accidents.

Were stuck on this wee bubble in the cosmos and its all weve got.

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