5 Reasons to Volunteer in Palestine
There are many reasons to volunteer in Palestine, if not just to spend time with Palestinians themselves. Having suffered from occupation for so long, the need is as urgent as ever; yet, on the back of so much hard work by Palestinians themselves, the potential opportunities to become a part of something more than just the volunteer experience itself is an inevitable part of becoming a volunteer in Palestine.
5. Gain an accurate perspective of Palestine, with your own two eyes.
For many people, it is the occupation that simultaneously draws them to Palestine, but at the same time provides some reservations about coming. The occupation, however, should not put you off completely. Rather, the opportunity to learn about this major topic in international relations and politics from people who live it should instead be a draw of volunteering in Palestine.
Perceptions of Palestine and the conflict with Israel are gained only through news media reports or particular narratives and ideologies, which are determined to be worth advertising as the preferred version of events, at any costs. Becoming a Palestine volunteer in a community, or even one of the nation’s bustling towns, is the best way to gain an understanding of the occupation that is balanced, nuanced, and most importantly, humanised in a proper way that is separate from the agendas that compete for space in defining this conflict globally.
4. Gain insight into human history by immersing directly in it.
Volunteering in Palestine is also not only a means to gain insight into one of the defining topics in the world today, but also a means to gain insight into human history. The Holy Land is in fact not one Holy Land, but many. Hebron is holy to both Jews and Muslims, while Bethlehem is holy to all of Christendom, being the birthplace of Christ. Jerusalem is, in many respects, the most venerated site for mankind’s monotheistic faiths.
Existing side by side with Palestine’s religious significance is its general historical significance. Existing on the site of so many great civilizations and Empires throughout history, volunteering in Palestine is so much more than just providing a service; it is a means living amongst the pages of history. Palestine volunteers will inevitably gain so much, if not just from Palestinians themselves, then from the inevitable immersion in history that comes with simply being in Palestine.
3. Gain experience with Palestinian culture firsthand.
On top of this history, there is of course the contemporary Palestinian culture, a culture that despite suffering so much in the past, has staged a remarkable come back and deserving of all the attention and adoration it gets. While most people will mention Ramallah in regards to Palestinian culture, places like Hebron and Nablus have also staged their own cultural comeback. Across the land, for cultural buffs, Palestine has so much to offer – their hospitality in particular is an addictive part of being in this region.
2. Gain access to one of a kind volunteer opportunities.
Perhaps the best draw of becoming a Palestine volunteer are the options available. Given the nature of the occupation seeping into all aspects of Palestinian life, sometimes violently, but mostly subtlety, organisations in a wide selection of fields throughout the land have marshalled locals and resources to ensure the protection of Palestinian life and culture. Potential Palestine volunteers are thus spoilt for choice.
If teaching English is your thing, then Palestine has teaching options from East Jerusalem to Hebron and Nablus. On the other hand, if theatre is where your heart lies, again, you’ll be spoilt for choice; and, the same is true for many other fields. For example, arts and crafts co-ops have popped up all over the land and agricultural projects play a significant role in Palestinian life, while for the more academically inclined, various research institutions accept volunteers who want to help with their researching and monitoring duties.
1. The BEST Reason to Volunteer in Palestine is...
When combined, all these benefits ensure that any Palestine volunteer becomes part of something so much more important than just the immediate project they are working on.
Volunteering in Palestine, whether that be through community projects, English teaching, or human rights monitoring, is a means to protecting a people’s cultural identity, and to do so amongst the rich cultural and historical depths of the Holy Land, ensures the experience is always one that will never be forgotten.
This article was contributed by The Excellence Center of Palestine, a training center that is fully licensed by the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Providing a variety of opportunities for international volunteers to give back to local communities, The Excellence Center also helps participants immerse in the Palestinian way of life and learn the Arabic language.