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The Excellence Center

Why choose The Excellence Center?

The Excellence Center/Engage in Palestine was established in June 2011 to provide educational, cultural, social, and community services to its diverse group of international students, interns, and volunteers, as well as to Palestinian children, refugees, women and youth in Hebron, West Bank, Palestine.

The ongoing success of the center has pushed us to continue our work in Germany, specifically in the city of Halle. The Excellence Center in Germany started to offer educational and community programs to both locals and internationals in 2018. Both Centers have had a great impact on refugees, children, migrants and members of local communities as well as on the internationals who come from different countries and backgrounds.

The Excellence Center believes strongly in the fundamental role that education plays in the lives of the Palestinian and German communities. To this end, the center will continue to develop and create new programs and activities that further this role.


Ethical Impact

With all our Arabic courses and volunteer programs, we aim to make a long term difference for the Palestinian local community through the exchange of ideas and “walking in each other’s shoes”. Our programs and courses foster shared learning, for both our community and you. During your Arabic course, you will get to learn so much more than just the language. You will also get to learn a lot about Palestinian culture and customs and the political situation in Palestine. Additionally, you will have many opportunities while outside the classroom to practice your Arabic in a natural and authentic way while navigating your new life in Hebron. Your time with us in Hebron will also provide you with many opportunities of cultural exchange and mutual learning, both with local Palestinians as well as with our other international participants.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Intensive Arabic in Halle

My four week intensive Arabic experience with the Excellence Centre in Europe has been wonderful. All aspects contributed to an enriching journey.

The teaching has been first class -- I went from knowing nothing about Arabic to being able to hold smalltalk. In four weeks, I've learnt to conjugate simple tenses well enough to speak about the present, past, future, and desired actions. Of course, I can read and write it just as well. If you are a beginner like me, you will be taught with a tight lesson plan and materials if you ask for it. You can also request for a more target-focus approach -- going directly to whatever specific objectives you have.

The friends have been amazing too. For example, we went together on weekend trips to Berlin, Paris, and Prague. 3/3 weekends passed in great fun and discovery, so it wasn't bad at all. It was pretty diverse. In the group we have current college students, pre-uni gap-year students, recent and mid-recent graduates too.

Most people here speak some German, so it'd be helpful to request to have a lesson or two at the beginning of your session to be for German. (I can attest to the rigour of the German coursework too -- after an hour, I could compose sentences with adjectives and prepositions about the present and the future/desire.)

The host family was very welcoming. l hung out with them right away, even with limited language capabilities, we talked about history, international relations, religion, and personal lives. Accomodation for me was a whole room to myself. I would recommend. Though I didn't cook much, the kitchen was available to use.

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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience

My experience at the Excellence Centre in Europe

As I write this, I’ve been staying at the Excellence Centre for three months, teaching English and studying both Arabic and German. I’ve got nothing but praise for every aspect of the Centre, the staff, their mission, the learning experience, and the accommodation.

At the Centre I stayed in a shared house with two other volunteers and a member of the Centre staff. The accommodation was excellent for a shared room, and the people were welcoming. On the living experience at the Centre, the place has a real community atmosphere; the Centre feels like one big family, especially when we’re all enjoying breakfast together in the mornings!

The quality of language tuition at the Centre is also very high. I studied German for the first part of my experience, and then switched to studying Arabic, both of which were taught by the fantastic Muaz Albaid. He’s a brilliant teacher, with a knack for explaining the most difficult linguistic and cultural concepts in a way that makes them seem as simple as can be, as well as being great value to have around. Through his tuition, I’ve improved my skills in both languages faster than in any other learning situation I’ve had before. The other teachers at the centre are also excellent, for example Ali Moshmosh, also very talented and highly multilingual. The lessons are very professional and of a comparable standard to what I’ve experienced as a university student. The small class sizes also improve the experience, with lessons tailor-made for your level and language goals.

Rafat is the life and soul of the centre, as well as the driving force behind its mission, with an infectious passion for his work, shared by every other member of staff - ultimately, the reason the Centre exists - to have a positive effect on the refugee community in Halle (Saale) by making language learning more readily available to those who don’t necessarily fit into the mould of the German system. This is a task at which he is succeeding beyond all expectations. I was really gratified to see that I and the other volunteers were having a visibly positive effect on our students, and it was great to see them develop over the time that I was teaching them.

As a volunteer, you have complete control over your schedule and how you teach your lessons, which are generally one-to-one, while also being supported by the vast experience of the Centre’s staff and the resources of the organisation - this really makes the experience as beneficial as possible for both students and teachers. Personally, I had the opportunity to form relationships with my students over my time at the Centre, and I’m quite sad to say goodbye to them.

In conclusion, I would recommend the Centre to anyone who wants to make a real positive impact here in Halle (Saale), anyone who wants to improve their language skills in German or Arabic under professional, high-quality tuition from people who really care about their mission, or simply anyone who would like to enjoy the community atmosphere and see the good work that Rafat and the others are doing here.

  • Great impact
  • Having a positive effect
  • Friendly people
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Transformative Arabic Learning Experience with Excellence Center in Palestine

I recently completed the 10 online Arabic classes focusing on the Shami dialect at the Excellence Center, and my experience has been nothing short of extraordinary. As a remote student, I was initially hesitant about the effectiveness of virtual learning, but Saja, my brilliant instructor, completely changed my perspective.

Saja's teaching style is a perfect blend of brilliance and patience. She not only provided thorough explanations of the deeper meanings behind phrases but also delved into the cultural context, enriching my understanding of words. Despite the virtual setting, Saja went above and beyond, repeating sentences and offering invaluable guidance on pronunciation during our Zoom calls. She has an intuitive understanding of how much information is enough to push students just a little bit further each class. This personalized approach made every session engaging and productive, leaving me eager to explore more on my own and to practice before the next session.

In conclusion, my time with Saja in the virtual space at the Excellence Center has not only enhanced my Arabic language skills but has also sparked a genuine eagerness to visit the center in person. I highly recommend the Excellence Center in Palestine to anyone seeking a transformative and culturally enriching language learning journey.

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Yes, I recommend this program

My experience at the Excellence Center

I really did enjoyed my time at the Excellence Center. I've decided to break up my review into different aspects of the program

Pre-departure: As someone who had never heard of this program at the beginning of the year, I was skeptical of going all the way to Germany for something I thought could potentially not be legitimate. I'm happy to report I did not need to be worried, I located the excellence center very easily (just use google maps and look for a language school sign) and Rafat and staff were friendly and accommodating from the beginning.

Staff: The Full-Time staff was definitely one of the pros of the Excellence Center. They all went out of their way to make me and the other volunteers feel welcomed. Rafat, Radwan, Ali and Muaz were all incredible people I hope you get the chance to meet someday.
Language Instruction: If you pick the program for it you have the opportunity to learn German or Arabic with Muaz. Muaz is a great teacher. In the past I have had really bad foreign language teachers wether they're rude, condescending, or unqualified to teach. Muaz is none of those things. With Muaz I learned German for six weeks and because he fostered a learning environment that was judgement-free and because of this I learned as much German as possible at a very fast rate.

Students: How much students you get really depends up to how much Rafat wants to give you. I only had two students, but I was perfectly fine with this amount. I really liked my students because it was obvious to me that both of them were always ready to learn English and I hope at least helped them reach their English goals!

Housing: The reason it takes a long time to figure out what your housing situation is going to look like is because often times volunteers will sign up at the last minute which will throw things off or they have to look for apartments in Halle if their is a large amount of volunteers doing the program. For me this wasn't issue but if you're wondering why you may not know yet those are potential reasons for why. For my housing I stayed at an apartment dormitory. The apartment its self was nice but I felt like it could have been cleaner upon arrival.

Halle: Halle is a nice town. Halle from a logistical standpoint has everything you need from restaurants, venues, grocery stores, parks, you name it, Halle has it. However, I attempted to learn German before I came here but had to stop due to unforeseen circumstances, but when I got here everything I learned in German seemed to slip out the window as the Germans in Halle I ran into (especially the older ones) did not know English very well and often times if they did, they really were resistant on speaking English to you. In total, this a problem related specifically to me but something you should be aware of is English in Halle is not as widespread as it is in other big cities such as Berlin.
Social Scene; The social scene at the Excellence Center is nice because even though it was quiet during the time I went, the other volunteers or Ali were always down to do something lol.

Flexible Schedules: Working for the Excellence Center was awesome because Rafat will let you work when you want to, which was really nice for me because on the weekdays I wanted to study for the LSAT and on the weekends+ Fridays because we got them off I was able to travel.
Travel: This was one of my favorite parts about living in Germany is that it was accessible to every else especially in Halle. during my 6 weeks there I went to the following countries: Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, and Sweden. Since I got Fridays off, it was very easy to travel to these places for weekend trips. If you want to do this I would recommend getting a Eurail pass as it is a cheap way to travel across Europe and all you have to do is go to the main train station in Halle and then you can go wherever your heart desires.
In conclusion, this is a really good set-up and to be honest I wish I heard about this earlier. This was truly a life-changing experience that I will never forget. I would really recommend this program to anyone looking to do be in a international setting, to make a big impact on peoples lives, and to see the rest Europe!

  • Supportive Staff
  • Flexible Schedules and Easy to travel around Europe from Halle
  • Working with the students
  • Housing could have been cleaner
  • English is not as widespread in Halle
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Yes, I recommend this program

Human Rights Internship

I came to Palestine for my internship and every day i have learned so many new things. I learned about the Palestinian culture but also how the people live here and how certain things work in Palestine. I don't think i have loved a place so much as Palestine, I had an amazing host family (who I will miss very much), i met amazing people at the centre and i also learned so much about myself. I grew inmensly as a human-being. I loved learning Arabic with my teachers and I for sure became better at it.

  • Excellent teaching
  • Wonderful people (staff, people in Hebron, students from the center)
  • You can start at the center quickly after applying
  • Security and border control at the airport
  • due to the situation there are few green spaces to relax
  • Prepare for the emotional impact of witnessing the experiences of the Palestinians


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Nicholas Lecchi

A volunteer who went abroad after studying for an English teaching certification for a little over a year. Is slated to do a History Masters' Program in NYC during the fall of 2023.
Nicholas Lecchi


Why did you choose this program?

I wanted to gain experience tutoring, and I wanted to improve my German (which I have studied on and off for 5-6 years). I ended up selecting the Excellence Center in Halle, furthermore, because I wanted to base myself in a city/region of Germany that I had no experience with. The fact that Halle was in the former GDR, which is an area of academic and historical interest to me, made it a particularly appealing choice.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program was not done via a university provider but by direct payment to the Center. In return, the Excellence Center's staff provided me with a place to stay for the duration of the program, as well as German lessons, and breakfast every Monday through Thursday. The other payments were down by cash I carried on hand or by card.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I wish I had known to memorize some German phrases related to purchasing food or asking for directions ahead of time. More than once, I found myself not knowing how to phrase pretty basic questions and, in those circumstances where the person I was speaking with didn't know any English, it led to me feeling really lost.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Because the volunteers set their own schedules vis a vis the lessons they teach, there is a lot of variability in the average week, but there are a couple of constants.

Breakfast began every day at 10:00 AM from Mondays to Thursdays.

For once a week for about 90 minutes, sometime between 8:30 AM and 9:30, the center held a communal soccer game.

Classes, be they the language courses that volunteers did in German or Arabic, or the courses that volunteers taught as tutors, almost always lasted 90 minutes.

On occasions when the Center wanted to bid farewell to a volunteer whose time with the program was coming to an end, we would do a communal breakfast or dinner to send them off.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest worries pertained to my ability to actually effectively teach English to lower-level speakers, as I lacked a language in common with any of my students that I felt I could comfortably default to without a ton of written prompts for guidance. I was, as such, very worried that nothing I taught would actually be conveyed sufficiently.

In truth, I don't think I ever fully "overcame" this worry, so much as that I accepted the fact that, given that the students kept coming to my lessons of their own volition, they were getting something out of their classes, and this helped me worry less about making sure that every single facet of a given lesson plan went perfectly.

Do you have any additional tips for our GO community?

-Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand when you travel. Many shops in Halle don't accept credit/debit card.

-The town's park is very nice, and regularly hosts small music festivals and the occasional street market.

-The Marktplatz near the big church also has various good lunch options.

-Halle is close to a variety of very good tourist spots (Leipzig, Erfurt, Weimar, Berlin, that are easily accessible by train. Be sure to invest in a membership pass with Deutsche Bahn if you can.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Mohammed S. Tamimi (“Abu Mohanned”)

Job Title
General Manager

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!