As the long summer holidays apprach and the Jewish enclaves of London, Manchester and Gateshead begin to empty out, one thing we are always reminded of in no uncertain terms is that there need not be a vacation from Torah learning! While it may sometimes be challenging to keep up with regular chavrusos and learning schedules when one half of the partnership finds themselves in deepest Yorkshire and the other in a continental villa, for the participants in PaL, Phone and Learn, the transition requires nothing more than getting to grips with the time difference.
With PaL learning sessions taking place primarily over the phone, they continue to be equally flexible during term and holiday time, and the organisation is more than happy to help out when it comes to long distance calls as well. The PaL team have become experts in dispensing advice about various telephone access codes from the UK to a variety of overseas locations. For the many students learning through the programme and relocating over the summer from the halls of residence and shared houses to their family homes, there need be no change in learning routine whatsoever - the tutor can still be on the end of the phone at the designated time wherever anyone is in the country!
When PaL was founded in 2005, it introduced the idea of having a learning commitment that is not necessarily face to face, and as technology creates more methods of communication, PaL has successfully used these opportunities to increase the amount of learning opportunities.
PaL tutor, Jeremy R, has been learning consistently with his PaL partner David, for over seven years. Jeremy and David thoroughly enjoy their weekly learning session and amongst other learning achievments have almost finished learning Sefer Bereishis. This is no doubt a result of their joint commitement, and when asked what the secret to the success of their partnership was, Jeremy said, "Nowadays there are so many different ways to communicate, there is no excuse for missing a weekly PaL session. David and I have been able to learn consistently for over seven years, be it from a hotel lobby in Washington, a safari lodge in South Africa or a business trip in Singapore. The only thing we need to juggle is the different time zones." The advantage of PaL says Martin from London, who learns with Darren in Brussels, is that "we can interact with each other and get more involved in the learning session wherever we are and whenever it suits us!"
PaL believes strongly in providing everyone with an opportunity to learn with a tutor. As part of its growing success, an increasingly large proportion of learning partners are aged 25 and under, many of whom are in university and living away from home. In addition 11% of partners are based overseas. In order to support and nurture these partnerships, PaL actively encourages diffferent methods of communication.
Programme Coordinator, Mrs Rivka Graham, says that "at PaL the wonderful team of Follow up Coordinators, work together with the PaL tutors and partners, to enable each partnership to communicate in a way that works best for them." It is a testament to PaL's ongoing success that a large proportion of current PaL partnerships have been learning for over two years.