Teach English and Study Arabic in Palestine

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About

The Teach English and Study Arabic (TESA) Program provides visitors from all over the world the opportunity to live in the Palestinian city of Hebron and to experience daily Palestinian life while working as an Intern with the Excellence Center (EC).

As an Intern you will be provided with 3 hours of conversational Arabic a week. During your time in Palestine as an Intern, you will give some language classes and provide administrative assistance to the Center while at the same time that you are immersing yourself in Palestinian culture. Our program participants teach courses focusing on conversational English. Previous teaching experience is preferred but not essential.

As an Intern you will live with a Palestinian host family (availability permitting), and visit historical sites, local industries, universities, and refugee camps in the city of Hebron. The Excellence Center does everything possible to make our Interns feel at home so that you have a wonderful time in Palestine

Highlights
  • The programs offers you a stay with a Palestinian host family
  • Teach English and Speak Arabic program provides you the opportunity to learn spoken Arabic
  • International Interns will have the opportunity to meet Palestinian university and school students as well as community members
  • Participants will have the opportunity to learn in depth about the ongoing Israeli occupation
  • International Interns will have the opportunity to experience Palestinian Culture and live the daily life in Hebron, Palestine. Moreover, Participant will have the opportunity to travel around Palestine

Questions & Answers

Hi, thanks for asking! Yes, the safety of all participants is ensured with this program. For additional information we recommend contacting the program provider directly, which you can do here: http://excellencenter.org/contact-us/ .
Hi, thanks for asking! We recommend contacting the program provider directly to learn more about scholarship opportunities (here's a link to their contact info: http://excellencenter.org/contact-us/ ). Also make sure to check out our blog! We have tons of great articles and resources on finding and applying for scholarships :)
Great question! The monthly fee for this program is $560. More info on pricing and trip details can be found here: http://excellencenter.org/teach-english-in-palestine-2/ .
You can volunteer for a few week or months. I volunteered for 2.5 months one volunteer was there for 4 months I think.

Reviews

91%
based on 14 reviews
  • Growth 8.8
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 7.9
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 14 of 14
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emma
10/10

Volunteer at the Excellence Center

I spent two months in Hebron teaching English and learning Arabic. I have had an amazing time here. My host family and the people at the Excellence Center have made an effort to make me feel as welcome as possible. They have taught me so much about the culture, language and history of the country.

The program was also very flexible, meaning that I have been able to see a lot more of the country and region.

I am so happy to have had this experience in Hebron and I hope to come back soon!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Nathaniel
9/10

A great balance of teaching and learning

Let me first start by saying how happy I am that I came to the Excellence Center. I thought the environment was perfect. I used my experience as a native English speaker with the help of online and Center provided curricula to teach English to people who wanted to accelerate their learning. For learning Arabic, I was happy to be in an area where English isn't overly common. I chose a limited Arabic class schedule of three hours per week because I didn't want to get overwhelmed by book learning. While I sometimes retreated to the dorm for English, at other times I forced others, no matter their English proficiency, to deal with me in my questionable Arabic. Since my goal was more directed at practicing Arabic for proficiency instead of getting classroom training, this suited me perfectly. If this is not the type of atmosphere you are looking for, there are other programs available and the website will have more information

While the experience was wonderful overall, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Arabic in an Arabic speaking country, I do want to relate some caveats to make sure any future students are prepared for them. Let me first explain the lower rating I gave for how much fun I had. I didn't go for fun. If I wanted fun, I would have gone on a typical vacation. I came to the Excellence Center to learn, specifically Arabic. As much as I love the results of studying Arabic, I hate taking classes, so I'd feel disingenuous if I gave a 10 for fun. But I did have fun in spite of myself. I got to tour both Israel and Palestine on my days off, we watched some World Cup, we had some group dinners, but I spent more time trying to figure out how to shop for common household supplies, which was the kind of Arabic practice I was looking for.... but it was not fun.

As for the housing, all your needs will be covered, but don't expect luxury. Once again, it's not that type of vacation. It's described as a dorm, but I'd describe it closer to a hostel. You are provided with furniture and bedding and you will have at least one roommate. My biggest regret with the housing was that I didn't ask to pay a little extra for a family stay. As a bad student, I took the opportunity of being in the dorm to indulge in English being the common language. It would have been a little better for me if I didn't have that type of escape. You'll have to use your judgement to decide if that's right for you, if you're male, that is.

One warning I'd like to give is about Ramadan. As a non-Muslim, I thought that the fasting was the biggest thing to consider for Ramadan. It turns out that the biggest change is to people's sleep schedules. Because fasting happens during the day, people spend their time awake at night. As a result, during the daytime, people are tired or sleeping. It's not like the country shuts down, but it definitely slows down to a snail's pace. If you are looking to carry a more active schedule, it will be easier for you if you avoid coming during Ramadan.

So, in summary, if you're serious enough to set yourself on a course of leaning and experience, you should consider coming to the Excellence Center. Know the program, know yourself, and you will benefit immensely.

Yes, I recommend this program
Caroline
9/10

Amazing Experience, Would Recommend

The Teach English and Learn Arabic the Excellence Center has to offer is great. Us volunteers have the opportunity of leading activities with a wide range of Palestinian English students on various topics. It is a lot of fun to organize activities on subjects for which we are passionate about, but also to hear about what our students want to discuss. Along with these classes, we also receive one on one Arabic classes. I did not expect to be alone with my teacher, which is perfect because we can go through the lessons at my own pace, but also to learn about the Palestinian dialect, offering me a real chance to integrate and participate in the community. The host family the Center has found me is also a big contributor to my experience being so enriching. My host parents, brothers and sisters are always there to help me and happy to receive at their dining table every night. I have mostly enjoyed being part of the family during the time of Ramadan. They were very encouraging of my fasting for the first time and doing iftar (breaking fast) with them has made my difficult days more than worth it.

How can this program be improved?
During Ramadan, things are a little bit up in the air. It is understandable, but I wish we had a more tangible work schedule during this period.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Maj
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

My name is Maj, and I have studied Arabic and taught English with the Excellence Center from February 2018 to May 2018. I am from Denmark where I study at the university in Copenhagen. In the spring 2018 I took 6 months off between my bachelor and my master to travel to Palestine to improve my Arabic.

I studied Arabic with the competent teacher Maryam. We had Arabic class every day for three hours in the morning. The topic of the class changed almost every day which suited me very well. The teaching methods varied so I have never been bored during a class. As I am studying Political Science I asked my teacher to focus on this topic in our class which led me to have a great vocabulary on politics and have the skills to talk and discuss a difficult subject.

I started volunteering at the same time as I started studying Arabic. During my three months in Hebron I have taught the same class together with another volunteer twice a week at the Excellence Center. This has been a very good experience for me as I got the opportunity to get to know the students very well. After class we sometimes went out to eat ice cream or to have dinner which was something I enjoyed very much.

Besides from teaching at the Excellence Center I have also taught at public schools. This gave me the chance to see how the school system in Palestine functions. At the same time I enjoyed speaking with the children and teaching them English. The wonderful thing about teaching children is that you get more familiar with their native language which in this case is of course Arabic. In that way teaching English also helped me understanding Arabic better.

During my stay in Hebron I have lived with a Palestinian family. You can choose to change the family during your stay to get different experience, but I enjoyed my time with my host family so much that it was never something that crossed my mind. I owe my host family great thanks for making my time in Hebron so amazing!

I didn’t know what to expect regarding the safety situation in Hebron before I arrived but after spending three months in one of the most conservative cities in Palestine where the occupation is close to daily life I discovered that there was nothing to be afraid of. I have not once felt unsafe during my stay. People are very friendly and if you need help finding your way there will always be someone guiding you. The Palestinians are very outgoing so if you want to practice Arabic with other Palestinians than your teacher you will have a great opportunity to do that with people in shops and everywhere you go. As a woman travelling to Palestine there are different rules than for the men when it comes to staying out alone in the evening. I chose to follow the general costumes regarding this though the few times I went out alone in the night I didn’t feel unsafe.

Choosing to volunteer at the Excellence Center and living with a Palestinian family have been one of the best things I have done. The staff at the Excellence Center is so friendly and you feel welcomed from the moment you step into the center. I would definitely recommend this to others who want to learn Arabic and get familiar with the Palestinian culture.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brian
9/10

Volunteering in Hebron

All in all I would say it was a great experience. The staff are extremely welcoming and social, always ready to help out. It was my first time teaching, and it was very fun! They throw you right into it, and provide you with materials to teach. They arrange tours to different places, so to experience craftsmanship, historic places or other interesting things. I would recommend for everyone to go there.

How can this program be improved?
Housing should be improved.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Brian,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We also appreciate your efforts during the two months that you spent at the Excellence Center. Concerning housing, the Excellence Center administration enhanced it a lot. We bought many new things and fixed the apartment.

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

With kind regards,
EC Staff

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Alessandro
8/10

My experience at the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine

I’m Alessandro Cordova, from Italy. I’m 21 years old and I study Intercultural Communication in the University of Rome, to get a future job in the field of International Cooperation for Development and Humanitarian Aid.
I participated in the TESA program because I wanted to get an insight view on the Palestinian issue and reality, because I wanted to improve my Arabic both through lessons and real-life communication and because I wanted to live an amazing life experience that could make me grow academically and personally.
Hebron is a safe city, easily comparable to many European towns. I was positively impressed by the incredibly low rate of micro criminality in the streets. I never felt to be in a dangerous city, not even at night. The situation in the old center of the can be surprising at a first sight, because of the presence of soldiers in the streets, but I never felt threatened by that. This applies to basically every city in the West Bank. They’re all normal and beautiful cities, full of life and amazing things, absolutely not a war zone.
I would recommend learning Arabic before coming here basically because the direct contact with Palestinians is an essentially important part of the experience. Moreover, even if starting from a basic level, living and studying here is the chance to get an incomparable improvement, especially in oral communication skills.
My best memories in Hebron are the visits to Umm Abed, a woman living in the center of the city. I just loved hearing all her stories and tasting her amazing handmade food, prepared with lots of love. I loved to see how genuinely happy she was every time we visited her.
I tried to learn some Dabka steps, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough patience for that. But for sure I’m willing to learn Maqluba recipe before going back home. Maybe from Umm Abed herself.

How can this program be improved?
The program could be improved basically improving the communication between students and center managers and raising (at least in my own personal experience) the quality of the services provided, such as housing. Moreover, the organization and the planning of the whole program needs an update, in order to ensure volunteers a better experience in Palestine and at the Center.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Alessandro,

Thank you for your great work at the Excellence Center and for leaving a review.

We will take your suggestion in our consideration and we promise to enhance the accommodation conditions very soon.

We wish you all the best, we really appreciate your efforts at the Excellence Center very much. We hope to meet you again in Palestine

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Niccolò
8/10

My stay at the Excellence Center

I did not know what to expect before coming here in Hebron. I had been told a lot of scary things about Palestine: the rough airport check, the security, the food... I had none of these problems!
My airport check was fine and went smoothly, and I never felt in danger here in Hebron and the staff was eager to handle any kind of problem I had (small or big).
The flat I was given was not one of the best flats I could expect, but that did not influence my staying here at the center!

During my free days I was able to explore almost every corner of Palestine, and the staff here is very flexible when it comes to working hours and days off.

Here you will meet many kind, warm and welcoming people. I really feel like I boosted my Arabic a lot, and I would definitely recommend this internship to someone!!!

How can this program be improved?
Provide a better housing
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Niccolo,

Thank you so much for your wonderful work during this summer. We appreciate it very much.

We promise to take your suggestions in our consideration. We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon at the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine

Greetings from all of us :)

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Damir
9/10

"You are welcome to Palestine!"

There is always some apprehension and anxiety when traveling abroad. Especially to a place you have never visited before. This is perfectly understandable. However, I want to relieve some of those anxieties for people.

I volunteered two months at the Excellence Center teaching four classes and taking Arabic lessons. On my off days, I traveled throughout Palestine. Managing your time and preparing your lesson plans ahead of time is crucial to keeping students engaged. The staff will provide you with lesson plans depending on the student level you will be teaching. Furthermore, the staff encourages the volunteers to come up with their own creative ways to keep the lessons interesting and fun (games, field trips, etc).

I understand safety is big concern for many who are contemplating coming to Palestine. For the two months I stayed in Palestine, I personally have never felt threatened or in danger. It goes with out saying, staying out of trouble will most likely keep you out of trouble. One will have to get accustomed to seeing soldiers and checkpoints throughout Palestine but after a couple weeks you'll adjust to your surroundings.

Traveling is pretty organized and efficient. The cabs in Hebron are affordable and dependable. There are shared service vans you can take to different parts of Palestine -- Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, etc. Going into Jerusalem and Israel will require you to take a bus, which you can do in Bethlehem. All this transportation is reasonably affordable. In addition to traveling on personal time, the staff at the EC will also take you on weekly field trips to areas in Hebron and around it. You'll get an insightful opportunity to meet the locals and hear their stories.

No need to overpack personal hygiene things. You can purchase everything upon your arrival in Hebron. It's Palestine's most populous city with bustling businesses and shops throughout.

People are INCREDIBLY friendly and hospitable. This type of generosity is very common in the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries. As an international you'll stick out like a sore thumb but this is no reason to fear. People will ask you in the streets where are you from and after you tell them, you'll get the same response, "welcome to Hebron! welcome to Palestine!"

How can this program be improved?
There are certain cultural differences, of course, that volunteers need to be aware off. I would recommend during the interview process the staff should clarify these to the prospective volunteers. For example, you shouldn't have alcohol in your apartment. Men and women volunteers living in separate housing and the staff strongly encourages that this stays as such. Women volunteers will most likely stay with a host family. These host families should be thoroughly vetted and properly compensated. One will have to get used to the "dress code" in a Muslim-majority country. Modest dressing is advised, for men and women.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Damir,

Thank you so much for the review. We are very glad to read it. You did amazing work at the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine. We wish you all the best and we hope to see you soon in Palestine

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Cara
8/10

Welcome, Welcome to Hebron!

I’m currently completing my second experience teaching with the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine. I initially came to Palestine to teach for one month in the fall of 2015, when I first fell in love with the bustle of Hebron’s streets and the warmth of its people. I returned to teach again for two months this spring, and will complete my time at the Excellence Center in just a few days.

I wholeheartedly recommend that others come to have this volunteer experience as well. The curriculum that we’re expected to teach at Excellence is interactive, and I’ve loved getting to know my students during the past two months. The local Arab staff are kind and supportive, and eager to help with any potential issues that volunteers might have in adapting to the culture or in settling in with host families. Hebron is beautiful, with gorgeous hillsides surrounding the city and an incredible Old City, that in Palestine is rivalled only by Jerusalem in terms of size and style.

Although Hebron is famous for being a center of Palestinian-Israeli tension, I’ve learned that there is so much more to this city than conflict. It’s a city of amazing people, who continue to welcome me into their homes. They have housed me, given me shoes, and shared countless cups of coffee and tea. It’s a city of generous and patient people who help me when I’m lost, feed me when I’m hungry, and give me roses from their gardens when I’m sad. Now this is what comes to mind first when I think of Hebron: not the conflict, but instead the sweet students, friends, and strangers who have made me feel like I belong in their city.

Of course, there are also challenges to living in a new culture. There are many things I still don’t understand, and I certainly can’t learn Arabic quite as quickly as I’d like. There are significant cultural differences, and I’ve had to adapt appropriately. Schedules (and lifestyles) are generally less structured here than they are in the US, and I’m continuing to learn to be flexible and gracious.

Overall, I am so grateful for the time that I’ve spent with the Excellence Center here in Palestine. I’ve learned so much from my time in Hebron, and will continue to process my experience here for a very long time. I’ll take back to the US many fond memories of a city that now feels like home, and people who now feel like family.

How can this program be improved?
Really the only thing that has made me uncomfortable about this program is the fact that host families usually receive very little monetary compensation, if anything, from the Excellence Center. The families are more than happy to host volunteers free of charge, but I would prefer if a greater percentage of the fees that we pay to volunteer to Excellence were given to the families who are so generous in sharing their food and resources.
Otherwise, I think the work that Excellence does in and for the community of Hebron is a great thing, and it's been a privilege to be a part of it.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Cara,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We also appreciate your efforts very much during the two months. We will take your suggestions for improvement in our consideration.

We hope to see you in Hebron soon, we wish you all the best

With kind regards,
EC Team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Lauren
9/10

You'll Love the Kitchen Chicken...

I don't know where to begin. I was here for three months, but each day held a new discovery, even to the last. There is immense beauty to be found in Palestine; I certainly won't forget the view of Jordan from the shores of the Dead Sea in Jericho, or the steeple of the Russian Orthodox church standing out amidst the mosques of Hebron. I won't forget the chaotic orchestra of traffic horns and shopkeepers selling their goods in the city center, or the sound of the prayer calls just before dawn. The greatest beauty, however, lies in the humanity of Palestine's people. There is as much to discover in a rooftop conversation with a few good friends as there is at Temple Mount or the Nativity Church. When I go back to America, I'll have photos and videos to remind me of where I've been and what I've seen. I'll put them in a photo album and they'll sit on a shelf as a physical testament to my adventures, alongside souvenirs and knick-knacks. These are the things that I'll show my friends and family in my home country, and through them I'll try to convey what it was like to be in Palestine. Unfortunately, it's not as easy to describe the genuine human connection and the closeness and warmth that is abundant in Palestinian society. I don't have a photo that can describe how it feels to hear strangers laughing together in Manger Square as if they were old friends, or a mother mourning her newly deceased son with quiet and tearless dignity. These are the memories that I will keep with me beyond the photos.

Dramatic rumination aside, here's the practical part of my review. I was at the Excellence Center for three months, and I really enjoyed my time there. The work feels meaningful and the staff are a treat. I stayed with two different host families, both of whom were nice, although I definitely have a favorite. Hebronites are welcoming to the extreme, and you'll never be without tea, coffee, or good conversation. There's a lot to see and do, and I wish I had time to do more, but I suppose that's all the more reason to return. Cheers!

How can this program be improved?
Give us more of a heads up when we have a 60 Minutes. This one's for you, Osama ;)
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Lauren,

Thank you so much for everything, Osama got better in Planning for the 60 Minutes in local schools. We wish you all the best and hope to see you in Palestine soon inshallah

Greetings from everyone at the Center

EC Team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Mohammad
10/10

Time Well Spent

I participated in the Teach English Speak Arabic program from November, 2014 to February, 2015. I thoroughly enjoyed my time I had spent with the Excellence Center. The staff were great and I never encountered a problem that could not be rectified. They were more than willing to help me and offer solutions to living in a new country. My Arabic teacher was very kind and patient with my lack of foreign language acquisition skills.In addition, the native Arabic teachers were fun to work with also.

I have taught in 4 different countries and I had the best time in Hebron. My students were amazing and very generous. I went to cafes with them, their homes for dinner and their businesses. Moreover, I even went to Bethlehem and Jerusalem with them. They were motivated and eager to learn English; I looked forward to each and every class, because I love interacting with new and stimulating people.

My host family was great and very helpful. I have made some lifelong friends in Hebron and without a doubt will return.

How can this program be improved?
Osama could go easy on the pictures :-)
Response from The Excellence Center

Salam Alikum Mohammad,

Thank you brother for everything, we appreciate your efforts very much. You did an amazing work especially in the local schools.

We hope to see you soon in Palestine. we of course wish you all the best

With kind regards from Palestine

EC Team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jolennda
10/10

Life changing

This was my fourth time to Palestine, but my first time to stay for an extended period. It was probably one of the best decision I ever made. I not only made friendships that will last a lifetime, but I now have a new perspective on life. The center offered many opportunities to visit places in and around Hebron and also allowed for us to do things on our own. The people are amazing and I now feel like Hebro is my second home.

How can this program be improved?
A little more guidance for some of the volunteers on how to teach and what their ultimate purpose is.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Jolennda,

Thank you so much for everything you did during the summer. We appreciate your efforts very much. Recently, we developed a teaching manual for internationals who do not have any experience in teaching.

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

Greetings from everyone at the Excellence Center

With kind regards,
EC Team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Cristina
10/10

A wonderful opportunity

Teaching at Excellence Center was one of (if not the) most fulfilling experiences of my life for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being the people I met there (many of whom I still keep in touch with more than three years later!). Living in Hebron with a host family is a great way to immerse yourself in Palestinian culture. You will be invited into peoples homes, eat delicious Palestinian food, go to weddings, and get an overall feel for daily life.

The teaching program itself is well structured. Excellence Center is used to accommodating many international volunteers with a variety of backgrounds. I had never taught before and found working here to be an incredibly positive learning experience in that regard.

I did not experience any large difficulties in my time at Excellence Center, but it is important to go with a respect for your environment and an understanding that you may not be able to do everything that you would in your home country and you may encounter cultural differences.

If you have the opportunity to work at Excellence Center, go for it!

Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Cristina,

Thank you so much for everything. We will never forget your efforts specially in the early stage of establishing the Excellence Center.

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

With kind regards,
EC Team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Lora
10/10

Best Thing I Have Done in my Life!

Highlights: visiting towns and cities throughout the West Bank, including interesting sites in Hebron itself such as the Russian Orthodox Church, factories such as glass-blowing, the souq and Old City, and Mosque. Total immersion into Palestinian life WITH Palestinians: Weddings, Ramadan for example. Very meaningful for me was being included as one of the family, experiencing the love and warmth of family life along with family friends, and the opportunities to spend overnights in different villages with friends of the Excellence Center. Everywhere people told me "Welcome" and I really felt that sincerely. I was very at home. EC staff endeavored to fulfill my wishes and meet my needs the whole time.

Difficulties: I am fairly adaptable so difficulties for me tended to be few - experiencing the intense heat of the Judean desert when I'm from the north climes of America was a challenge; not taking precious water for granted was another; gauging clothing and dressing to make sure I was "in sync" with another's culture - these were very good challenges and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Living for nine weeks in Hebron was the best thing I have ever done in my life and I will say that for ever after!

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps time off for teacher/interns could be a little more structured so that the intern could make firm plans for sightseeing, etc.
Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Lora,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We are very happy to hear that you had a good time in Palestine. Thank you Hajjah Lora for everything. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in Palestine soon

Shukran Hajjah Lora,
EC Staff

Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

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About The Excellence Center

The Excellence Center was established in June 2011 as a youth initiative to offer educational and community services to its diverse group of internationals and Palestinians. It is located in the main heart of Hebron on Ein Sarah street which is under...