For the first time in Israel the Israel Antiquities Authority will hold a unique project in which young students from all over the world take part in the conservation of archaeological and historical sites in Israel. The students are tutored by conservation specialists and archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

After a long period of rehabilitation and conservation work in a spectacular Ottoman building in the southern part of Old Akko, the International Conservation Center, Citta di Roma will open its doors. In fact, this is the first institution in the country where practical conservation training will now take place. With the inauguration of the building different courses and activities will be offered for the purpose of training conservators from both Israel and abroad.

The program is the third session of the Saving the Stones program. This is a five month long international study program designed for young students from around the world who come to Israel within the framework of the “MASA” program sponsored by the government and the Jewish Agency. Students from Israel, Poland, Russia, the United States, England, Panama and Puerto Rico will participate in the first class.

The professional training includes workshops in the conservation of stone, mortar, wood, metal, etc. Raʽanan Kislev, head of IAA Conservation Department, said that the conservation experts of the Israel Antiquities Authority will tutor the training activities, the theoretical and practical studies. According to him, the Israel Antiquities Authority considers the participants part of its professional activity and they will be permitted to touch, explore, treat and conserve the unique and rich heritage of Israel. Their work will contribute to bestowing the heritage to future generations and increase awareness in Israel for conservation. The Akko Municipality and Old Akko Development Company are partners in the program. Mr. David Harrari, CEO of the Old Acre Development Company, welcomed the participants on their first day and said that "the success of the program will contribute to promoting and positioning Akko as an international training center. Opening the doors of the city’s institutions and its homes constitutes a significant tier in the presentation of a city that is welcoming, warm and accommodating of tourists.”

At the reception organized by the city of Akko, the municipality promised to help the participants adjust to their stay in Israel and organized host families for them, cultural events and a wide variety of activities. In exchange the program’s participants will volunteer to assist in social activities in the city and contribute to the research on the culture and conservation of Akko’s sites.

In a field trip arranged for the program participants at the Western Galilee College, Dr. Nadav Kashtan, head of the Conservation Department, showed them the conservation studies laboratories and the conservation library. He invited the participants to visit the college and make use of all of the professional facilities during their work.

The director of the International Conservation Center, Shelley-Anne Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, invited the residents of Akko to join in the training activities that take place daily within the framework of the program, throughout the city. The program is powered by the MASA- Israel Journey, accompany of the Jewish Agency and is sponsored by the Israel National Committee to UNESCO. The participants live in Manof School.