The Excellence Center in Palestine
92% Rating
(163 Reviews)

The Excellence Center in Palestine

Join The Excellence Center In Palestine In 2018
The Excellence Center in Palestine welcomes applications for the next year 2018. Furthermore, the Center will publish 9 new community development programs for internationals who would like to come to Palestine to volunteer, visit, intern or study Arabic next month.

Greetings from Palestine. We would be happy to have you at the Excellence Center in 2018 :)

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 the supervision of the Palestinian Authority.

The Excellence Center invites internationals year round to come to Palestine to volunteer, intern, visit or study Arabic. The Center organizes educational, cultural and community activities to introduce international interns, volunteers and students to Palestinian culture and daily life. Participants in the international programs have the opportunity to meet the local Palestinians who will share their lives and culture. Since the beginning, the Excellence Center has hosted over 250 international volunteers, interns and students from every corner of the world.

The Excellence Center is fully licensed as a cultural and educational center by the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

Most Recent Program Reviews

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Ola
Female
22 years old
United States
University of Michigan

My Experience in Palestine

10/10

My Experience in Hebron Palestine
My name is Ola, I’m from the United States, have a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science, and I participated in the Teach English and Study Arabic program (TESA) for two months. Through this program I had 3 hours a week of Arabic lessons and taught students of all ages and levels. At university I studied Arabic for three years, so I came to Palestine with a base of Arabic. However, at my university we learned the formal dialect, which I quickly learned is completely different from the spoken dialect. So, I chose to have my classes focus on building my speaking and listening skills in the Palestinian dialect. My teacher was Maryam, she created lesson plans which were tailored to my level and what I wanted to learn. Maryam really has an amazing energy which encourages you to push yourself, but also isn’t too harsh. I enjoyed my lessons from her so much and really was able to see my listening and speaking improve because of her. The best thing about being at the center is that your Arabic lessons aren’t just in the classroom. There is almost always somebody in the kitchen you can practice your Arabic with, whether it’s a teacher or a visitor.
Working at the center is both fun and rewarding. The full-time teachers are so helpful in helping you adjust. I worked with Ibrahim Zahada and was so inspired and encouraged by his passion for teaching.The director MarwaShantir was an extremely important part of my adjustment to the city and the center. Her kindness and light-heartedness encouraged me to become comfortable at the center and truly act like myself in this new place. I loved working with my students so much, and the best part is seeing their improvements at the end of your time together. I think the most meaningful part of my experience was when I said goodbye to a class I had been teaching for most of my time at the center. Their genuine gratitude meant so much to me and I will carry that with me forever.
During my stay in Hebron I lived with a host family which was a unique and significant experience of my stay here. They are the true model of Palestinian hospitality. My host family was so kind, generous, and hospitable with me; but at the same time, they were respectful of my personal space which I really appreciated. They always invited me to eat meals with them, allowing me to try different traditional Palestinian food, and ensured that I had a comfortable stay. Living with a host family also gives you more opportunities to practice your Arabic. I think my favorite part of living with a host family was spending Fridays with them. Because there is no work on Friday everyone would be home and we would eat a big lunch and then just have a nice relaxing day and night watching movies, enjoying the weather, or just talking.
While in Palestine I visited a few places through the center and outside of the center. Through the center I went on several small trips within Hebron. We visited the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Old City, Al-Shuhada Street, the glass and ceramic factory, and the Church of the Maskobiyeh. These local trips were ranged from a couple of hours long or half a day. I also went on one full day trip to Jericho through the center which was a truly beautiful day. We started the day with a short hike outside Jericho then went from there to the Dead Sea. At the Dead Sea we swam, or rather floated, then made a barbecue and ate while enjoying the view of the sea. After this we went to a beautiful view at the top of the mountain and drank tea and smoked shisha while watching the sunset. Separate from the center I went on trips to Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jericho again for some hiking. The West Bank offers many beautiful and historical places to visit, and many are easy enough to get to on your own, but if you ever want the center to plan a specific trip all you have to do is ask and they will.
Before coming to Palestine, of course safety was on my mind, and I hoped that no significant political changes would occur during my stay. Unfortunately,during my stay President Trump made the announcement to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After this announcement there were reactions in Hebron and surrounding cities, and for the first two days it was unsure what would happen. However, by the third day I realized that I had nothing to fear so long as I was smart about where I went. Yes, there were protests in Hebron; but because I didn’t go anywhere near where these protests were taking place they didn’t affect my daily life, let alone harm me. I was so happy to have the center and my host family during this time because they were able to provide me with accurate knowledge about what was happening, what I could expect, and what I should do to stay safe. In general living in Palestine felt very safe for me. I never worried about walking home by myself or taking a taxi. In addition, the people of Hebron are incredibly kind and friendly people and want to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors to their city.
During my experience at the Excellence Center I really found a family in the people I met during my time in Hebron. From the staff at the center, my fellow volunteers, and local Palestinians I befriended I found so much love in this city which makes it so hard to leave. The center provides such a beautiful experience for it’s volunteers and I’m so grateful for the time I was able spend here.

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paulina
Female
hebron
Other

nursing student in Palestine, health and medicine program

9/10

Pauliina, Finland, BA Nurse student, medicine and healthcare program

I participated in the medicine and healthcare program, and I also studied arabic on the side. Arabic is a relatively difficult language, but during one month I managed to do some small-talk, and to read arabic in english. The centers environment was nice, and everybody were very friendly. During my time in Palestine I visited Betlehem, the old town of Hebron and the Dead Sea.

Living in the host family was really nice experience, and I learned a lot of palestinian culture and people, that I would’ve not learned if staying on my own. We ate dinner together, and my hostmom took me to market, shopping, meetings, and made my stay in Hebron safe and comfortable. During my time in Palestine, the mood in the city was sometimes restless, due to certain political happenings.

My favorite memory of my time in Palestine was the people’s kindness and hospitality. I also celebrated my country’s 100th independence day in Palestine by having a huge dinner, and I was so happy people were participating to this event important to me.

I recommend excellence center for everybody coming to visit Palestine, they offer a programn for everybody, tailored to their interest! My medicine and healthcare programn was really a success, I got to keep lectures to first year nursing students for example about the patient communication skills and ethics. I also visited local palestinian hospital during my stay.

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Mats
Male
27 years old
Belgium
Other

Excellence Center Stay

8/10

My name is Mats, I’m a Belgian teacher who volunteered as an English language teacher in Hebron, Palestine.
It’s weird to think that it has been 3 months since I last wrote about my experience in Palestine. Back in September I knew very little about this little place called Hebron, apart from what I’ve read in the little research I did.
It’s no secret that the political climate during my stay has greatly changed. For the most part during my stay, there had been no reason for concern and keeping myself to the same guidelines as I follow in all ‘big cities’ has worked out well. What is important to note for future volunteers is that cultural awareness and respect take priority, as well as heeding the advice of the locals and your host family.
Spending my time here as an English language teacher has been a great experience for me personally. In the past 3 months I worked with many of the staff member (although with some not as extensively as I would have liked) and have come to respect them greatly. These are Palestinian teachers who arrive after their regular hours to supplement their already busy schedule in order to help students improve their English, as well as going out of their way to make the various volunteer that come and go feel welcome. Special thanks should go out to Marwa, who not only leads the center but also has taken up the valiant task of trying to teach me Arabic. It did not matter if I failed to do my homework, forgot everything that she fought tooth and nail to teach me or if I had to bug her with another one of my questions, she always went out of her way to offer help with a smile.
The students have, for the most part, been nothing but welcoming and eager. Classes have been hectic at times, especially for the volunteers with little teaching experience, but that’s part of the experience and the regular staff members have always gone out of their way to offer assistance. After my second month I was given my own personal Intermediate 1 class and – while I’ll never say this in the classroom itself – all of them have been such incredible students that I feel proud and privileged to have been their teacher.
As a teacher-volunteer, part of your job will also be to take private classes with 1 or 2 (adult) student. These classes are the ones that are most memorable to me. Khaled and Eiman, the government officials who were always ready with a joke and a story (and the occasional cheating attempt when I was playing some games with them) and Wa’el, the traveling doctor with whom I had countless conversations about life and who taught me so much about Hebron and Palestine, I’ll miss them a lot.
Most of all though, I’ll miss ‘the Sheikh’. He started off as our landlord, since the male volunteers rent out his old parental home, but Sheikh, as well as his entire family, have become friends and companions during my stay.

How can this program be improved?

As with all NGOs that rely on volunteers in combination with teachers, the quality of education greatly depends on the quality of the volunteers that arrive at the center. Many of the staff are good and experienced, but some of them are overworked and have to rely extensively on the available volunteers.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Mats,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We appreciate your efforts very much during the last three months. You did a great job helping our Palestinian students develop their English and life skills.

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

Greetings from the entire Excellence Center's staff

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Coco
Female
23 years old
Germany
Other

My stay in Palestine

9/10

My name is Coco, I'm 23 years old and I`m a midwife from Germany. This year I was staying for 4 weeks in Hebron and participated in the ¨Study Arabic¨ program at the Excellence Center. I want to tell you a little bit more about my stay.
It was the first time ever that I visited an Arabic country and for the first few days I felt like I stumbled pretty clumsy through this foreign culture. I didn`t speak the language and I didn`t really know much about the culture. Thankfully everyone was so patient with me and supported me in every way possible.
I was staying with a Palestine host family that took very good care of me. Everyone was always so friendly and welcoming although it was challenging to communicate because I spoke little Arabic and they didn`t speak that much English. But surprisingly it worked out every time. I also probably gained about 3 kg because they feed me all the time delicious food. And I could get really get used to the practice to have tea or coffee basically all the time. I enjoyed this lots!
I had four Arabic lessons everyday and my teacher Maryam was really good and so patient. I only knew the alphabet before I came here and she helped to improve my Arabic really fast. I`m still a little bit shy with speaking but actually there`s no reason for it as I know all the necessary grammar and words now. Nevertheless Maryam never gave up with getting me to speak. I always have a lot of questions and sometimes I get frustrated easily but she always had been so patient and tried to encourage me.
The environment of the Excellence Center is also a very friendly one. Everyone has always been so supportive and caring. Whenever there was a problem or I needed anything, everyone has tried his or her best to help me. I also enjoyed my time with the other Internationals here and a few good friendships have formed. They have been very important for me while I was here because the understand the struggles you sometimes face while being away from home. We usually would go out every other evening to a coffee shop and it was always lots of fun. I`m gonna miss all the people here – the one`s that work here and my fellow Internationals.
It also never gets boring because the Center organizes lots of activities you can participate in. Unfortunately I didn`t get to enjoy too many as I had been ill during my stay and also needed a lot of time just for being on my own. So I only got to participate in a trip to Jericho and the Dead Sea and it was amazing! I have seen the pictures of people floating in the Dead Sea but it`s a very special experience to really do it yourself. We had lots of fun on your trip although I was very tired when we returned in the evening.
I also got to celebrate my birthday here as I turned 23 during my stay and it was a really good experience. The people from the Center had organized a small party, there was a cake with a picture of me on it and they even got me presents! I was really amazed how everyone tried to help to have a good time and I did in fact. It was a beautiful day and I`m glad that I got to celebrate my birthday here.
What could be challenging from time to time was that I`m a vegetarian. Palestine food contains lots of meat in general but it`s still possible to get by. Especially the Falafel place across the street has a huge place in my heart. As does the bakery. Those cookies are just delicious. I also enjoyed the breakfast in the Center with lots of hummus. I could totally keep that up in Germany. So even you have to search a little bit from time to time it`s still possible to survive here as a vegetarian and there are really lots of delicious food you definitely have to try!
Another thing that was on my mind (and my Mum`s) was the security situation. In general I felt safe most of the time. There had been protests in December after Trump accepted Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but I didn`t really see much of those as they were pretty far away from my host family and the Center. I always felt as nothing could really happen as long as I didn`t go to the protests and just stayed inside. Be carefull, pay attention to the things around you, read the news and ask for advise from the people at the Center and you will be fine. For most of the time everything here is just as normal as elsewhere.
In general I enjoyed my stay in Palestine very much. Sometimes it`s not easy because of the different cultures – for both sides. But just be open and talk with the others if there are problems. It´s also a huge learning experience and I didn`t only learn a lot about Palestine culture but also aboutmyownandaboutmyself.EveryonehasalwaysbeenverysupportiveandkindandI`msadthat I have to leave soon. If you want to learn about another culture and learn Arabic I can only recommend you to stay at the Excellence Center.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Coco,
Thank you so much for leaving a review. We really enjoyed your stay at the Excellence Center during the month. We wish you all the best in learning Arabic

All the best and we hope to see you in Palestine in the future

With kind regards,

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Mila
Female
28 years old
Denmark
Other

Intensive Arabic in Hebron

10/10

My name is Mila, I’m a 28 year old teacher from Denmark. I have a bachelor degree in Intercultural Education and Arabic Language and decided to come to Hebron in order to practice my Arabic. I participated in the programme ‘Study Arabic in Palestine’ for 2 weeks. During my stay in Hebron I stayed with a host family and had Arabic classes 5 days a week at the Excellence Center. I really liked this combination, since it let me practice the Arabic language throughout the day. I was really satisfied with my teacher Ibrahim who is really skillfull in teaching as a foreign language. I especially liked that he was really creative in his use of different learning methods - I never felt bored!

I felt really pleased with the environment at the center. As soon as I arrived to the center I immediately felt at home since the staff and the other students and volunteers were really welcoming. The atmosphere is relaxed and you hardly feel the difference between who is a teacher, a student and a volunteer. There will always be someone in the kitchen ready for a chat over a cup of mint tea. I liked that during my stay we were only 5-6 international students/volunteers. In that way you get to know everyone well, and also that you also get to spend a lot of time with the local staff and not only internationals like yourself.

The Center arranged a lot of visits to different places such as the Old City, the grocery market, a glass and ceramics factory, and the Miskoubia Church. Since you have two days off each week, you will have the chance to visit many places outside Hebron as well. I visited Jericho and Jerusalem during my two-weeks stay, which I really enjoyed.

The thing I liked the most about staying in Hebron is the great hospitality I met from everyone. It is really easy to practice the language outside the center since everyone you meet is very open and you get a lot a chances to use it with locals, for instance when you go shopping. Hebron is a great city where you can find everything from historical sites to modern cafes and restaurants. At the same time it is close to other West Bank cities such as Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho.

I felt very safe during my stay during my stay. The center is located in a safe place in the city so even though some tumults where taking place during the period I was in Hebron, I hardly felt it. Actually, I feel safer staying in The West Bank than in any European Capital. When something happens in Europe you as a tourist can be a target, whereas in The West Bank, no one has interest in harming a tourist - on the contrary, it would be really bad for both parts of the conflict. The conflict that is going on here is a conflict between only Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, and as long as you keep away if you see a demonstration, you will be very safe. The staff at the center are all the time updated with the situation, so if you have the least doubt about whether it is safe to go somewhere or not, you can always ask them for advice.

Overall I had a really good experience at the Excellence center and hope to be able to come back in the future. I will strongly recommend it to anyone interested in learning or improving their Arabic language - you will definitely learn Arabic but also so much more!

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Our Danish Student,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We enjoyed your stay very much in during the two weeks. We were also amazed by your Arabic skills.

We wish you all the best and success in learning Arabic (You are like Arabic native speaker)

Greetings from the EC's Staff

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