Many people who come to the Excellence Center with the goal of volunteering to teach English are curious about the teachers.
We thought it would be a good idea to sit down with one of the English teachers at the Excellence Center and ask him a little bit about himself, in order to give those thinking about studying at the Excellence Center a chance to learn a little bit more about the teachers they will encounter and work with in Hebron.
Meet Ibrahim Zahda, who started teaching at the Excellence Center as an English teacher 3 years ago.
What’s your daily routine like?
I split my time between the Excellence Center and a local public school. I’m an English teacher at both locations. Once I finish at the public school, then I head over to the Excellence Center.
How do you like working with Palestinian students?
I really like working with them. These kids have something to tell the world. I want to give them the tools they need to deliver our message to the world. That message is simply that we are here and we believe in nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation.
How about foreign volunteers?
They help me a lot as teaching assistants. The help they provide basically falls under several levels. First, they empower the idea of volunteering to the students. Second, they help the students with their pronunciation and expose them to the way English is spoken by native speakers.
The cultural aspect of their presence is also important. Volunteers come from all over the world and bring new ideas and concepts to us. It helps the students learn about the ways other people think about problems and give them new perspectives with which to face their challenges. It’s not just the students, teachers also learn in this way from the volunteers.
What’s it like working with Marwa, Khitam, and the other staff members?
The working relationships at the Excellence Center are really great, everyone is kind and everyone is eager to help each other out. The people I work with feel more like family than coworkers.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
You'll mostly find me playing football and computer games, I’m actually addicted to computer games (laughter).
What do you wish foreign volunteers knew before coming to Hebron?
I think the administration has provided a lot of good information for future and potential volunteers on their website. I would urge them (the volunteers) to learn about the center and its mission.
Most of the volunteers I’ve worked with have had a good idea of that part. Learning about the Palestinian culture beforehand would also be helpful.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for Palestinians trying to learn English?
There is this stereotype that English is an impossible language to learn. That really puts the students at a disadvantage so I try to break that stereotype and tell them that English is just like any other language. It is fun and can be learned.
Another challenge is that public schools in Palestine tend to focus on traditional teaching methods. In fact, newer methods which teach English in a practical way are needed. This is what the center is for, it emphasizes the students' speaking and listening abilities so that they can use English in the real world.