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Teach, Intern and Learn Arabic in Palestine

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Teach English and study Arabic in Palestine

My name is Matthew and I'm from the UK, where I study a bachelors degree in Arabic. I participated in the Teach English Learn Arabic program. I wanted to improve my Arabic, and also try teaching and this sounded like a great opportunity

I have many good memories from Hebron. Sitting at the Center talking and laughing with Marwa. Walking my route to the center every morning, saying hello to my chicken butcher friend on the way, saying hello to my hairdresser friend, saying hello to my fruit seller friend. Again and again I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and kindness of the people. I once talked with a guy for 5-10 minutes on the street, a week later he calls me up and gives me 5 kilos of grapes. Who does that?! Only in Palestine...

I heard about dabke a traditional dance which I also saw, but didn't learn. I learned some Palestinian songs, and learned more about the Palestinian mindset, how to be kind and generous. I learned about Palestinian food also.

Overall I have been very happy being here. I think my Arabic has improved a lot, and I have learned a lot about culture, politics and religion. I have also met some amazing people and gotten some new friends for life. It has been a great experience.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review December 23, 2016 at 6:55 AM

    Dear Matthew,

    Thank you so much for your great efforts during the two months in Palestine. We appreciate your efforts very much. Thank you also for being super nice

    We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon in Palestine

    Greetings from the entire team
    EC Staff

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Experiences in Hebron

When I arrived in Hebron two months ago I did not know what to expect. The city is an incredibly well-kept secret with very little information available on line or in books; beyond the often negative news stories which too often define the image of Hebron in peoples' minds.

My time in Palestine has been incredible, due mainly to the warmth and generosity of the Palestinian people. Throughout my time in the West Bank, I have never felt worried about my safety as there have always been people who are more than willing to help. Any conversation in a taxi, bus, café, or shop more often than not results in an invitation for tea, coffee or even lunch.

I wanted to come to Palestine to get a real insight into what it means to live in the Occupied Territories. Throughout my last year of university I have read a lot of material from both sides of the conflict but felt that I still was unable to fully understand what and why the conflict in Palestine continues to this day and how it affects the daily lives of the people who suffer from its impacts. It was only when I began to experience just a few of the daily inconveniences endured everyday by the majority of the residents of Hebron that I felt I was beginning to understand the type of life many people here lead.

These experiences included being stopped and searched at random by the IDF; having the bus I was on stopped on the side of the road, in the mid-day heat with no air-conditioning while the IDF slowly checked everyone's ID cards. Moreover speaking to locals, young and old who have lived through an incredible amount of violence and instability has been one of the most eye-opening and grounding aspects of my time in Hebron and something I will never forget.

My time spent at the Excellence Centre has allowed me to explore Hebron, the surrounding villages and the wider West Bank in an safe and comfortable way. I immediately felt at home in the Centre, and by living with a local family in Hebron it quickly became as familiar as London is to me. The trust placed in me by the Excellence Centre provided me with the freedom to explore and expand my own abilities and confidence in teaching English and developing professional and respectful relationships with the students here.

My time here has taught me to look beyond the superficial images I create within my own mind; instead I have learnt to build an image of a country based on the people, their actions, words, dreams and experiences that I hear for myself and to not rely on the words or stories used by other people. I have discovered the difference of getting to know the soul of the country and not just its geography or architecture. This is what has made my experience here so enriching, enjoyable and a part of my life I will never forget.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review October 21, 2016 at 6:19 AM

    Dear Nicole,

    Thank you so much for leaving a review. We appreciate your efforts very much. You did an amazing work during the two months. everybody also here appreciate so.

    We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon in Palestine

    Greetings from Palestine
    Excellence Center Staff

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

My summer in Palestine

I arrived in Palestine as part of the TESA program with the Excellence Center in Hebron to teach English and learn Arabic. My goal was to contribute towards the education of Palestinian youth to help empower them so that they may become active contributors to their society. I strongly believe in education as the most powerful tool that one can wield, and with a strong education the sky is the limit. This is why I chose to participate in this program. Due to my previous experience in Arabic, the Excellence Center placed me in a neighboring town called Dura, where I worked with a partner non-profit called “Multaqa Sawaid” to teach three levels of English conversation skills to individuals of all ages. I became immersed in Palestinian society and it allowed me to gain a direct exposure to the life, culture, and political climate here.

In addition, living in Palestine for two months gave me the opportunity to explore the country on my free time to enhance my own understanding of the complexities that govern this beautiful land. On my free time, I had the opportunity to visit the Old City of Hebron, where I was exposed to a combination of politics, history, religion, and culture that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. As someone who strongly believes in freedom and self-determination for the Palestinian people, seeing the climate firsthand was incredibly vital for me as an ally. I also visited the Old City of Jerusalem, where I was able to pray in the Aqsa mosque and traverse through centuries of history. Bethlehem was also another lovely city that I visited, filled with elaborate architecture and complimented by a calm, tranquil, environment.

Teaching in Palestine means so much to me. The untapped potential that all of the students here possess is powerful, and if I can help contribute towards triggering that potential, then I will have been forever grateful. At first I was anxious and nervous coming here, thinking that I would not do so well, but the students proved to be excellent learners (and teachers!) which made it all an incredibly smooth experience. If I had the opportunity to do this project again I would do so in a heartbeat. I have fulfilled what I came here to do and I have optimistic hopes about the future of Palestine and its people. The youth are motivated, passionate, and determined to shape their own future. They refuse to allow any obstacles to come in their way, whether it is the occupation or lack of resources. They have shown, time and time again, that they will succeed. As a foreigner I was not only humbled but amazed at their diligence. There were many occasions where I thought I was the student and they were the teachers. My relationship with them developed into something more than just a student-teacher relationship, but a meaningful bond that allowed us both to gain from each other. The students I taught do not know this, but they have taught me much more than I have taught them. Palestine will be proud of them one day.
Many people have the wrong conception about Palestine and the Palestinian people. Never in my life have I ever been immersed in a culture so generous, compassionate, and caring to foreigners. I recall several incidents where I would tell a man that I liked his shirt, and immediately he would take it off and offer it to me. I have never witnessed such unparalleled generosity anywhere else. The Palestinian people seek to live in a free, equal, and just society like everyone else. They have their own struggles and their own stories, many of which are similar to our own but many which are also very unique to them. I truly believe that if one is sincere about learning about Palestinian life, that they should visit this land with an open mind and see how it is for themselves.

My experience in Palestine has been profound and I will miss it dearly. I have made family here, and it is always hard to say goodbye to family, though I believe that this is not goodbye. This is just the beginning. We will pick up as soon as I return one day. As they say in Palestine, “Next year in Jerusalem, inshallah!”

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

My time in Palestine

I stayed with two different host families during my time in Hebron. The first family was located about a 40 minute walk away from the center, and they were extremely kind. They were interested to learn about me and to introduce me to Palestinian daily life. At first, it was difficult to get used to the level of hospitality that Palestinian host families demonstrate. As an American, I'm accustomed to a "help yourself" hosting style. But here, my host family insisted on doing almost everything for me. They cooked large meals for me, mended my torn clothes, and rushed to bring me anything I needed. This kind of accommodation made me uncomfortable, but after some time, I was able to act like any other member of the family.

My second host family was only a 15 minute walk from the center. They were very used to hosting internationals and were much more willing to let me take the time I needed alone. While I felt much more comfortable with this style of living, I'm very glad I was able to experience both families. I learned more about Palestinian culture living with my host families than I did from anything else.


As part of the program, the Excellence Center organized many trips across the West Bank for the volunteers. One of my favorites was the first trip I participated in, which was to the town of Susiya. Due to the Israeli settlements in Susiya, which are illegal under both international and Israeli law, the city currently has international attention. While there, we stayed with a local family who provided us with dinner and a place to sleep for the night. We also met with the representative of Susiya and he explained to us the political situation there.

These trips, whether organized by the center or thrown together by some of the volunteers, were the bonding experiences that made the Excellent Center feel like a big family. I'll leave here feeling like I have a second home, far far away.

I think as a woman, my experience was inherently different from that of the male volunteers. Hebron is a conservative city, and while it's the largest city in Palestine, the presence of internationals is relatively sparse. This means that as a foreign woman in Palestine, my presence is noticed. While for the overwhelming majority of my time in Hebron I felt secure, there were instances where I worried for my safety. In the end, I just needed to learn the rules and adapt to the way of life in Hebron and I was able to keep myself from ever entering any dangerous situations.

Of course, with increasing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis (especially Israeli settlers), dangerous situations may become a little less predictable. But it's important to remember that the circumstances will be much more dangerous for the Palestinians living here than the internationals visiting.

Living in Hebron, I feel that I've gained a much more dynamic and nuanced understanding of the occupation and its political, cultural and daily consequences. Through my conversations with my host family, my discussions with my students and my observations of the H2 territories, I've learned so much more than I could have through my studies. I arrived here with no idea what to expect, but I've learned that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view. I'm sad to leave, but I feel now like the circle is complete and I know I'll return to the U.S. with a much deeper understanding of Palestinian life and I'm so grateful for the experiences and the friends that I've made.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • The School/Placement

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Pay and Benefits

    0

  • Teacher Support

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Best time of my life

My experience in Palestine has been just awesome. The guys at the Excellence Center are ready to welcome you warmly and make you feel part of their own family. Food is awesome and Palestine is an Amazing country to visit and to live in. No particular issues about safety and security, the city of Hebron is completely safe and secure, just like any other city. I strongly encourage everyone to be part of this experience, it will make you new and better people.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review December 23, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    Dear Alessandro,

    Thank you so much for your great work at the Excellence Center. We hope to see you soon in Palestine and at the Excellence Center. We wish you all the best

    Wallah menhibak ya Habibina

    With kind regards,

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Palestine experience

Two days after graduating from College I was on my way to Palestine. For the first time I left the comfort of my home in the U.S. and traveled to the Middle East.

Without a doubt, the Israeli military occupation of Palestine was of great concern for my parents and friends. In his attempt to dissuade me from coming, a friend warned me about shared taxis because they "are usually bombed." Although this was said with the best intentions, it just illustrated the ignorance some people have in the U.S. regarding Palestine. For this reason, I have been very active on certain social media sites where through pictures and videos I show the natural landscapes and everyday life in the West Bank.

My host family was very accommodating and have welcomed me with open arms. My host uncles and aunts have tried to make feel at home as much as possible. In solidarity with my host family and friends, I also fasted during Ramadan. While at first I found it hard, the fact that everyone was fasting made it easier. In addition, iftar was worth waiting for because of maqluba or mansif along with the sweets and other delicious dessert.

I am happy that I was able to find a hospitable organization like the Excellence Center for my experience in Palestine would not have been the same without them.

My only suggestion for the Excellence Center is to improve their planning of volunteer's daily activities and inform them in advance about their daily tasks.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review December 23, 2016 at 5:34 AM

    Dear Elham,

    Thank you so much for your great work. We appreciate your efforts very much. We wish you all the best and hope to see you again at the Excellence Center

    Greetings from the entire team
    EC Staff

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Palestine 2016!

I am Sandy and am currently studying International human rights in Germany. I took part in the volunteering program which included 20 hours of Arabic lessons and I taught English to all levels within the center.

I never felt threatened in Palestine, I do think that as a woman though you are put at risk a bit more. I think that the Excellence Center’s guide on how women should dress or are viewed in Palestinian society should be addressed more for volunteers. Although I am educated and understand what can be acceptable or unacceptable, even teaching some classes was difficult because many students do not respect a woman being in a leadership role. In terms of safety concerns related to the occupation – I have never felt in danger.

I would recommend to participants to learn Arabic before they come, as sometimes you are stuck in situations where you need an Arabic and English speaker to translate. It can be difficult to integrate into society if you don’t speak Arabic. However I didn’t speak Arabic before I came and I found plenty of people could help me and it forced me to try and learn Arabic even more.

My best memories in Palestine tend to be related to food. I also enjoyed teaching my English classes in the center, the Palestinian students are keen and are passionate about learning.

I also have the best memories with my host family, they made my stay in Al-Khalil truly fantastic.
I learnt many new Arabic songs, and I think I have tried every Palestinian dish now. I learnt how to dance at weddings and parties.