The Excellence Center has been offering English language training to local residents of Hebron, as well as Arabic training and volunteer opportunities to foreigners, for over six years.
One of the men who made our mission possible is Mohammed Tamimi, affectionately called by his friends, “Abu Mohanned.” Abu Mohanned founded the center all those years ago and he is still a fixture at the center’s offices. Volunteers and students visiting us from abroad will have close contact with Abu, whether chatting with them over coffee in the evenings, or traveling with him on tours of the Dead Sea or Jerusalem.
We thought we would introduce Abu Mohanned to any future volunteers reading, to give them a better idea of the people they will be working with.
What made you decide to found the Excellence Center?
I founded the center back in April of 2011. There was a need for students in Hebron to better their English language skills.
What makes English an important language to learn for people in Hebron?
All sorts of reasons. Many people in Hebron travel, or want to travel, overseas. There are business people, NGO workers, and tourists from around the world coming to Hebron as well. Being able to communicate with them is an important skill to learn.
How do you like working with foreign volunteers?
The volunteers we host from all over the world are very good people. As are the students who come to study Arabic. I’ve really enjoyed working with and getting to know them.
How is the Excellence Center different now than it was five years ago?
We have made a lot of improvements since I founded the center five years ago. In the beginning, we didn’t have many students, and certainly not many foreign volunteers. Every year, however, we attract more local students and more people from abroad.
We’ve opened up a second center in Hebron to host more programs. We’ve begun offering more workshops, an English Club, and have even begun offering local government staff English language training. Things keep getting better and better!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Oh, I love traveling around Palestine and visiting the different cities. Frequently I’ll go to weddings and visit relatives around the country. That’s one of my jobs as well, taking the volunteers on tours of Palestine!
What do you wish foreign volunteers knew before coming to Hebron?
Well there are practical things, like the places they want to visit, and how to find their way from Tel Aviv to Hebron. Besides that, however, we really like it when people visiting Hebron are aware of and familiar with the Palestinian culture. One of my goals is to raise awareness of the Palestinian culture and all that Palestine has to offer, so that volunteers will tell their friends to visit our country when they return home.
One last thing that Abu Mohanned insisted we include is that he is eager to welcome more volunteers to the Excellence Center!