This Middle Eastern state has been the center of the global spotlight for years, often for the wrong reasons. While Palestine’s complex relationship with Israel causes endless international controversy, the reality is that it is truly an inviting place. With its sensational Mediterranean food, ancient biblical sites, and beautifully contrasting landscape of mountains, desert, and sea, Palestine is an exciting place to explore through an internship abroad. Push your judgments aside, dive into a dish of musakhan, wander the colorful streets, and discover this region for yourself, all while making your resume look divine.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict constantly sparks debate over what land is technically considered “Palestine.” According to locals, the Palestinian territories lie in two regions: the beautiful West Bank and the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as the state’s capital. The regions are isolated geographically. Gaza tends to be completely off-limits to tourists, while West Bank is a popular location for internships in Palestine.
West Bank is located between Israel and Jordan, bordering the Dead Sea. This sunny region is filled with friendly markets, historical churches, and lively cities that serve as the perfect location for interns abroad. In West Bank, you can explore the busy Arab markets (souks), eat world-renowned falafel, and float in the Dead Sea, treating your skin to a salt bath that will leave you feeling like you’ve just come from the spa. You can also tour the birthplace of Jesus at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where they celebrate Christmas three times a year!
Hebron is one of the most popular destinations for internships in Palestine. Located in the south of West Bank with 200,000 citizens, Hebron is the second largest city in Palestine. It is considered the cradle of organized religion, as it is overflowing with major Jewish, Islamic, and Christian holy sites. Although this city still has palpable religious tension, Hebron is flourishing as a commercial hub among Palestinian communities. In your free time, you can take history tours through the desert, admire glasswork even more impressive than that of Venice, or throw on your swimsuit and pool hop around the luxurious hotel pools that are open to most visitors.
Nablus, another popular location for internships in Palestine, is a major economic and cultural hub located 30 miles north of Jerusalem in northern West Bank. Nablus has a vibrant Old City that is comparable to Jerusalem’s, but has not been swept up by tourism. Surrounded by lush valleys filled with olive trees, you will be able to find endless supplies of olive-oil soap and olive-wood carvings. Blend in with the locals as you explore the narrow alleyways covered in colorful flags and banners honoring Palestinian martyrs, and treat yourself to the world’s most delicious kanafeh, one of Palestine’s most famous pastries made of wheat shreds and goat cheese soaked in sugary syrup. While interning in Nablus, you will experience the true Palestine.
Internships in Palestine
Education is a top priority in Palestine, as it is thought to be the best way to improve one’s social and political situation. Because of this, most internships in Palestine center around education and community development. Locals want safe places and positive mentors for their children, so bringing in international interns is a great way to bring good changes to local communities. Interns will have the opportunity to teach English to Palestinian students while also improving their Arabic skills. Additionally, there are plenty of internship opportunities in Palestine in early childhood education and youth development programs. You can work with youth from refugee camps and marginalized areas, teaching them yoga, overseeing soccer games, or planing art projects, among many other things.
Of course, Palestine is the center of religious conflict, and those interested in religious conflict resolution can become volunteer interns. These types of internships in Palestine offer individuals the opportunity to become part of a “peace team” to support nonviolent acts. These internship placements are particularly great for young activists out there who want to make a difference by encouraging harmony within local communities.
No matter your experience, you will be able to land an internship in Palestine that will allow you to make a positive impact. While Arabic is the primary language in Palestine, the majority of Palestinians have exposure to English, so interns do not need to worry about the language barrier. Most internship placements in Palestine are full-time, ranging from two to six months, and give interns the chance to work alongside both local and international staff.
Salary & Costs
Palestine is a relatively cheap destination for interning abroad. Most regions use the Israeli Shekel, which is equivalent to about $4. Some areas, like West Bank, accept the Jordanian Dinar, as well though. While flights can be expensive, housing, local transportation, and food from community markets tend to be cheap. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to load up on fruits, meats, and cheeses from the souks, and grab a beer with your new friends for only a couple dollars.
The main down side to internships in Palestine is that they tend to be unpaid, but with the right organization, interns can have a mind-opening learning experience that will surely make them stand out on future job and grad school applications. Most organizations will also include free room and board (and occasional group trips!), so the experience is definitely worth it. And if you need help making an internship in Palestine happen, consider online fundraising platforms or applying for scholarships.
Accommodation & Visas
Most internships in Palestine will include pre-arranged housing, or at least provide interns with assistance to find safe, affordable accommodation for the duration of their internship. Individual flats or apartments are the most popular housing option, and rent tends to be affordable. However, homestays are the cheapest option, which also allow for a unique immersion experience through living with a family and experiencing what it’s like to be Palestinian everyday.
Palestine generally follows the same visa regulations as Israel. Since internships in Palestine are generally unpaid, they are considered a type of volunteer work, so you don’t need a work visa. A three-month visitor visa is granted upon arrival and required for anyone visiting the country. If you are planning a longer stay, check out GoAbroad’s Palestinian Embassy Directory for more information on the visa process.
Benefits & Challenges
Unpaid Nature. While interning in Palestine will be a rewarding experience, it is often difficult to justify an unpaid internship over paid work. This can be especially challenging for those in student loan debt. But there are ways to get creative with funding an internship abroad, and there is no doubt you will leave feeling richer than you came.
Improve Your Arabic. Arabic is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. Through an internship in Palestine, you will not only learn about the Arabic culture, but will also develop your knowledge of the language that is becoming one of the most powerful and important tools in the world today, despite the fact that it’s totally backwards (did you know they read from right to left?)!
Learning Experience. We are all aware of the geopolitical tension centered around Palestine, but very few people have firsthand knowledge and experience of this Middle Eastern state. By immersing yourself in the community, you can fully experience the political and religious tensions and come to a deeper understanding about the issues surrounding them. At the same time, you can bond with locals who are full of humor, generosity, and hospitality, and see the difference between real life and what is portrayed on the news.
Interning abroad in Palestine will be eye-opening. It won’t be the easiest destination, but you will have the opportunity to experience a deeply misunderstood country that is in need of your positive impact. An internship in Palestine will break you out of your comfort zone, and allow you to experience a slightly intimidating, but utterly wonderful, culture.