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Volunteer, Learn Arabic and Live Palestinian Daily Life
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Volunteer, Learn Arabic and Live Palestinian Daily Life

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

First journey to Palestine

My name is Emmy. Next year, I am also going to attempt the courses of Conflict Studies. With my study my interest was more focused on the religion of Islam and the Middle East culture. How typical it could possibly sound, I am a fervent believer that every one should be treated with respect and integrity no matter what his religion, origin or thoughts are.

The choice of Palestine as first journey to a new world felt directly right for me. As much I could tell or remember from my classes, nothing compares with the experience self of meeting a culture, people and a country. The Excellence Center proposed a volunteering of helping Palestinians of every age with their English in exchange of the guarantee life experience.

The reason I chose for the Excellence Center is also because I am more than aware of the chances I have as a young woman born and raised in a context where everything is just a matter of choosing between the opportunities. I am thankful everyday that I can attempt classes and learn.

I wanted to share the knowledge I had right chance in Palestine and Hebron, people are very friendly, food is tasty and the city is safe as a women to travel. I could only admit that this experience taught me more lessons than I gave.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Living in Hebron

As a general rule of thumb, the further you move east, the less things make sense. However, and this is important, it works, and the more you engage yourself with the culture, it’ll start to make sense to you too. For example, it is considered rude to eat straight away after you’ve been served; the opposite is true in Arabic culture. In Hebron, there are no pedestrian crossings, you just walk across the road wherever seems appropriate and cars will stop for you. Learning these idiosyncrasies and cultural differences is important and you must be open, flexible, and adaptable to these cultural norms in Palestine.

Palestinians are always willing to talk: Strangers in the street, vendors and shop owners. It’s a great opportunity to practice their English and your Arabic. Coffee, tea, cigarettes and shisha are consumed in vast quantities, perhaps to offset the cultural ban on Alcohol in the city. If you’re hankering for a drink, you can head to Bethlehem. To be honest, if no one else around you is consuming alcohol you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. It’s nice to take a day trip to Bethlehem and Jerusalem to see something different, or to see the occupied section of Hebron (do take precautions when you go to this section of the city).

I wish I could stay longer and I hope to back, but who knows!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My trip to Palestine

My name is Sara, I'm from the north of Spain. Now I'm living in Madrid where I study Economy and International Relations at Rey Juan Carlos University. I'm very interested in the Middle East and I'd like to work here one day.

At the beginning of this month I lived with a host family in Tabaqa, Dura. I've lived there for two weeks and then I moved to another host family in Hebron. With my first family I was very happy, it was a big family and they lived in the same street so I was always having tea with my cousins or playing with the children outside, etc. However, one day my host father told me that I had to move to Hebron but I didn't expect that so it was difficult for me. My second host family is smaller, the parents are very young and they only have two sons, but I'm very happy too, they are very nice and I feel very comfortable with them.

I think that staying with a host family you receive a full immersion in the Palestinian culture and society. I arrived in the last week of Ramadan so I had a lot of Iftar meals, and the final party of Eidl; I was part of the Palestinian society for this week. I also went to two Palestinian parties where I danced and ate with the women. Here in Palestine it's easy to be involved in their culture because everybody invites you to their homes or their parties, Palestinian people are characterized for their hospitality.

I've been studying Arabic this last year at university and I arrived here knowing the letters and the numbers so I could read and write, this way is easier to learn. The problem is that the Arabic countries speak their own dialect and I learnt the formal Arabic that it's a little different. Arabic it's a difficult language and it requires time so I suggest to come here with a little notion of the language.

I saw here everything I read in the news and in my history books, but by myself. Actually it was my first motivation to come here, to know and see all what I was told about this country. In Hebron there are almost every day confrontations between the settlers and the locals and if you are interested you can learn and listen stories about people and about what happened since 1948, for me it was very interesting.

I have visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, Haifa, Acre and Ramallah, I've discovered the differences within this country and its people by travelling. So I recommend to visit the most you can and learn the most you can from this beautiful country.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Living in Hebron, Palestine

Living in Hebron, I feel that I've gained a much more dynamic and nuanced understanding of the occupation and its political, cumy 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 Palestine, 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 gratefulltural and daily consequences. Through my conversations with my host family, my discussions with for the experiences and the friends that I've made

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

My time in Palestine in December 2016

My name is Juana and I am from Mexico City. For the last 7 years I have been involved in volunteering. This time I chose Palestine not only because I have some friends whose families are Palestinian but also because I strongly believe in helping people in any way that might be possible.

For years I have heard about the Palestinian situation, as so I have heard and read from other conflicts in the world, but for me it was important coming here because I wanted to see and experience how things are going over here. More important, try to do something in order to let know that there are people around the world who care for what is going on here, and who will be glad to help in any possible way.

So, with everything that is going on not only here but in the world, I thought it would be nice to work with children as they are not only the future but they are also the ones who will be able to change their world and improve it. And if we want that to happen, we need to support their education, their happiness and their lives. We must help them to believe in themselves and empower them so they can reach their full potential. And as an important part of education, I think imagination comes as an important tool, because it will help them dream of better opportunities and a better world.

For me, it has been really important to express not only my feelings but my thoughts by drawing, that is why I chose to work with children in a creative way. That is what I want to be my contribution, make them confident so they can dare to dream and express what they are feeling and what they really want in life regardless of what other people say they can or cannot do. They must know they are capable not only to dream but to achieve.

That is the important aspect for me, making sure the kids know they are entitled to a better future, to a good life and to achieve every single dream they have for themselves, their families and friends. I want them to go out and let the world know they are here and that they will not be defeated by those who are trying to oppress them.

Just by being in Palestine I feel have already obtained a benefit, because some are always telling why you should not get here, why it is not worthy, why it is dangerous, but they speak out of ignorance and I was not going to live like that. Even if I am not staying here for as long as I wanted, this has already helped me to discover new places, people and experiences. And I am sure I will be back.

That is why I am so glad places like this exist and I am really happy that so many people from different places around the world get here to be with the kids and families. I am proud of every single person that has ever come here, because even if not everyone in the world knows this is happening, volunteering at the Excellence Center is actually happening and I am sure it has been making the difference as so the people coming here.

Maybe we do not get to see nice actions in the media just as we see wars, killings and problems, but I am sure these actions done by volunteers are way stronger than that, so I just want people to keep coming, helping, learning and making the difference so kids can have a better world.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Volunteer in Hebron, Palestine

I stayed in a Palestinian host family. The family has a mother, father and three sons. The father is a doctor and the mother has a part time job on top of being a housewife. The children were 4, 7 and 12 years old. Almost everyone in the family spoke very good English, which is why I very much enjoyed our conversations. You can learn a lot about Palestinians and their culture and traditions from your host family. Of course, it was fascinating to discuss and learn how the occupation affects the life of Palestinians and how my host family felt about it.

During the whole time I was in Palestine I felt very safe. This is somewhat strange, because I expected that I would have to be alert all the time for potential danger. From the first moment that I arrived to Palestine I learned that the locals are very welcoming and helpful. In a strange country, you must learn to trust the people. So, even as a woman I felt I could walk around the city without concern. However, one should make sure to respect the local culture and dress appropriately, because then foreign women attract less attention and can walk in peace. Further, there are certain places in Hebron where it is not wise to go during certain times, especially at night, because there are clashes between the IDF soldiers and Palestinians. So, common sense and knowing where to go and not go keeps internationals very safe in Hebron.

My typical day in Hebron can be divided into two parts; in the mornings I would go to the center and teach English or have my Arabic lessons. During the breaks from these activities I would hang out with the other volunteers in the kitchen reserved for us, or on the roof enjoying the sun. After the class activities I would normally go to my host family, my home, and spend the evening with them eating dinner or discussing about cultural differences of Finland and Palestine. The Center and the Hebron traditions expect girls and women to return home at a certain time as it is not common for girls to walk alone at night, so that is why on most evenings the female volunteers go home to spend time with their host families. However, this is negotiable with the host family and very much depends on how conservative they are.

I feel I gained a lot from my experience in Palestine. I now better understand the Palestinian culture and traditions, especially those of Hebron. I have learned cultural sensitivity, however sometimes getting disappointed that some people expect it only from foreigners and were not willing to meet in the middle. Hebron is a very conservative city and especially women need to give away certain rights we have gotten used to in the west.

My objective to come to Palestine was to see what is happening in the occupied territories and how Palestinians lead their lives under occupation. I feel I have now a better understanding of the struggles Palestinians need to go through on daily basis, and I feel I have the responsibility to share their stories now with the people in my home country. I wish one day Palestine will be free.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    8

From Sweden to volunteer in Palestine

I am involved with the’ Volunteer in Palestine’ program and stayed in Palestine for one month.

I chose Palestine, because I have been interested in the region and wanted to come here and see it with my own eyes and experience it with Palestinians. One can learn by reading and following the news only so far, so I wanted to learn and understand more so I thought coming here would allow me to do that. Also, I wanted to learn more Arabic and thought Palestine is a good place to learn that. I have wanted to come here for a long time now and finally my life situation allowed me to take the break and come here.

During my stay at the excellence center I contributed in facilitating interactive and engaging English classes for the students. I also provided different workshops, for example, for writing CVs and cover letters or job applications. I work as a Management Consultant, which means I have a good knowledge and background in giving these types of instructions. Also, on my days off, travelled around Palestine.

I contributed to the Excellence Centers work by being a motivating teacher and giving fun and memorable lessons for the students.

This experience helps my future aspirations in trying to work for a non-governmental organization in the future. I am now a business consultant, but I would like to leave business life and have a job where I can make real difference and help people. Having the experience and learnings from Palestine makes me a better candidate to such organizations, for example for the Red Cross. Also, I work for the Red Cross in Sweden as a volunteer where I really need Arabic skills often, so learning Arabic skills here helps me in doing that volunteer work in Sweden with refugees.

I hope my work made a difference. I hoped that my presence and my motivating teaching attitude would spark the students’ self confidence in learning and actively using English language.

I really also enjoyed my time in Palestine and I learnt a lot, I would recommend volunteer in Palestine to anyone who would like to make a difference in his life and well as others

Greetings from Sweden

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

The Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine

My name is Jonathan, I am 49 years old. At home in London I work in human resources for a large hospital. I have visited Hebron, Palestine, and the Excellence Center for Education & Training Services on three occasions, most recently in November 2016.
I have helped young people with their English language and also with employability skills.
The Excellence Center is welcoming and supportive. I was given a schedule involving supporting qualified English language teachers by providing the conversational input of a native English speaker, as well as designing and delivering the package of employability skills classes. I also had some Arabic classes in my schedule, to learn some basic conversational Arabic.
I stayed with a host family who were lovely. Sharing a room with another English volunteer, we were given a warm welcome, delicious local food and interesting conversation. We were taken to visit the old city and the Ibrahimi mosque and given a special lunch on Fridays. The Excellence Center also organised additional activities including a visit to a refugee camp and to a local factory. The city of Hebron itself is friendly and bustling. It's easy enough to navigate the shops, cafes and taxis, and to find help if you get lost.
For me, the best thing about volunteering at the Excellence Center is the rewarding feeling of helping young people to improve their life chances through developing their English language and employability skills. The best thing about Palestine is the warmth and positive spirit of the people, despite the disadvantages of their situation, in particular the emphasis on education and development.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review December 23, 2016 at 6:53 AM

    Dear Jonathan,

    Thank you so much for your great efforts, we would be happy to have you for the forth time in Palestine

    We wish you all the best and hope to see you in the near future

    Greetings from Palestine

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Volunteering in the excellence center in Hebron

Volunteering with the Excellence Center in Palestine was a transformational and unforgettable experience. My program had two components, 1) teaching English as a volunteer and 2) learning Arabic from a native teacher. From day one I was treated as a member of the family, not just by the Center, but by all the people I met in Hebron. I was given all the support and assistance I needed, I was always well prepared for my classes and my Arabic teacher tailored the classes to my individual needs. I also felt totally safe during my time in Palestine, it completely confounded my expectations. For anyone considering enrolling on this program I just have one word of advice-go!

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review October 21, 2016 at 6:12 AM

    Dear Joseph,

    Thank you so much for leaving a review. We are very glad that you had a great experience in Palestine and at the Excellence Center. We would like also to thank you for your great efforts in developing Palestinian students English skills

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

    Greetings from Palestine
    Excellence Center Staff

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

One month in Palestine!

Hello! My name is Alejandro., I am 22 years old and I live in Spain. I am studying Economics and International Relations (third year) at Rey Juan Carlos University.

I have studied the conflict between Palestine and Israel at my university and I am very interested in it, as well as in the Middle East in general. That is why I wanted to come to Hebron, to see the conflict myself, face to face; and also because I am studying arabic in Madrid and I wanted to improve it.

The program I am involved in is the volunteer program, so I gave English lessons to the local students and, at the same time, I spent some time learning Arabic. I taught English in classes with different levels. For example, I assisted to the Beginners class and we played some games so that they learned the vocabulary of working, the types of jobs

This month allowed me to see the reality of the things in Palestine. I study at university and know the people behind it and the way they are living and, mostly, be able to help personally. I would like to work at the United Nations when I finish my studies, so this was a good opportunity to learn more about the Arabic world, which I find very interesting.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A Palestinian volunteer

A lot of foreigners, of various stripes, eager and yearning for culture, come to volunteer in Hebron. I never understood the fascination internationals had with this city. Why do you come all the way from the U.S, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany etc.. to volunteer or learn in Hebron? Why don’t I, a Palestinian, have that same passion about volunteering in my home town?

I have lived in Palestine for 19 years and it is only intermittently and very recently, I felt a genuine connection with this Land. It is when I became involved, when I travelled around Palestine, I understood why people cross the globe to come/volunteer here.

In Hebron, but also in Palestine at large, people are often very hospitable and that is particularly true amongst the more traditional elements of society. Take a stroll in Ein Sara, a very busy street in Hebron, and you will be met with the most delightful smiles. People are not afraid to help you out, give you directions, free food, show you around and make you feel like you never want to leave.

Volunteering for me, became more than a giving act. I receive the joys of exploring Hebron, the smiles on the students’ faces, the genuine respect they give you once they realise you are a Palestinian, seeking to help other Palestinians, and a better understanding and appreciation for my country. I get to make local and international friends, broaden my understanding of other cultures and traditions and generate friendships that extend further than Palestine.

So come Palestinians, take the initiative to volunteer . Become the self-appointed cultural ambassadors, who introduce people to the Palestinian Arab culture with a personal touch and allow them to form their own experiences and viewpoints on the land we call home.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review December 23, 2016 at 5:35 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

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My time in Palestine

I volunteered at the Excellence Center in Palestine for two weeks in 2015. it was a great experience. I met many Palestinians und I was able to participate in a lot of different activities

I felt very safe in Hebron and Palestinian are very hospitable und always welcome internationals.

All in all was a great experience that I made and I would recommend this to anyone who would like to visit Palestine und meet Palestinians.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review October 07, 2016 at 3:17 AM

    Hello Myriam,

    Thank you for leaving a review. We appreciate so very much. Thank you also for your great efforts in teaching Palestinian students English.

    We wish you all the best and we hope to welcome and have you at the Excellence Center or in Palestine soon

    Greetings from the entire team
    Excellence Center's Staff

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Teach English speak Arabic

My overall experience with the Excellence Center has been wonderful. I spent two months volunteering at the Center in Hebron. My students were of different age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and genders which made the classroom setting both a learning experience for me and the students. It was a cultural exchange in every sense of that phrase. The Center also provides for a “lived” experience of Palestinian reality in political, economic, and social sense. You’ll get the opportunity to meet with local business and community leaders. You’ll have an opportunity to meet with locals and hear their testimonies of life under a military occupation. It’s a perspective worth listening. I know safety is a concern for many contemplating about making this trip. In my experience, I did not encounter anything that I would deem dangerous or life threatening. Being a responsible adult is always advisable wherever one may travel and Palestine is no exception to that rule. I strongly recommend the Excellence Center!

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review October 07, 2016 at 3:14 AM

    Dear Damir,

    Thank you very much for leaving a review. We are very glad that you had a good experience in Palestine and at the Excellence Center. Thank you for your great work

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

    With kind regards,

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

I had a wonderful time in Palestine

I arrived in Palestine almost three months ago. I have had a wonderful time here and I have met a lot of wonderful people. The people and the feeling in Hebron is really good. Wherever you go people will welcome you and greet you.
My host family was amazing. By now they feel like a real family.
The staff at the center are very kind and helpful. They have helped me with transportation and general questions about the customs of Hebron. They also provided me with all the material I needed in order to teach my students. I have had so much fun teaching and the students are all very kind and eager to learn. They have taught me a lot about their society and their daily life.
The country has a lot of amazing experiences to offer and you will have plenty of opportunities to visit factories, cities, the ocean and generally have a good time.

  • The Excellence Center in Palestine responded to this review December 23, 2016 at 5:38 AM

    Dear Ellen,

    Thank you so much for your great work during the 3 months, We also were amazed how quickly you learn Arabic. We wish you all the best and we hope also to meet you in the near future at the Excellence Center and in Palestine

    Hayaki Allah Ya Dactora :)


    With kind regards,