The Excellence Center

The Excellence Center

About

The Excellence Center first opened its doors in Hebron, Palestine in 2011. After achieving great success in Hebron, in 2018 we were very proud to be able to continue our work in Germany as The Excellence Center in Europe.

The Excellence Center provides numerous opportunities for nationals, immigrants, refugees, and internationals to engage in educational, cultural, social, and community development activities in the city of Halle, Germany and the city of Hebron in Palestine.

One of the main goals of the Excellence Center is to bring internationals from every corner of the world to Germany and Palestine in order to learn about the country, its culture, and the German or Arabic language.

Founded
2011
Headquarters

Ein Sarah Street across from Al Hussein High School
Hebron
Palestinian Territories

Join Our Family in Palestine and Germany

Welcome to the Excellence Center: People who are between 18 – 75 years old are eligible to participate in all of our programs in Palestine and Germany. All nationalities and majors are welcome! You do not have to have any degree to join us. The Excellence Center hosts internationals year-round. Participants decide when they would like to start and end their programs. We are very flexible when it comes to starting and ending dates.

Reviews

Johann
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am a math Ph.D. from the US. For a while, I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer and provide mathematics education for the Syrian war refugee students in Europe. At first, I made an effort to contact the Dutch and German governments. Then I found this volunteer program in Halle, Germany.

I never even heard of the city before I found this program. I came to Halle anticipating nearly nothing, It turns out, however, that I found a home that I want to settle in. Unlike my ex-students, Syrian students are very motivated and eager to learn, meet new people and appreciate what you teach them. The only issue, that my German language skill is not good enough to teach them in German. However, some of them speak good English.

I stayed in Halle for a bit more than 2 months now and will stay full 90 days until my visa expires. Over that period, I have had 1 student that I teach mathematics in English.
He was a university student when the military conflict in Syria started and unfortunately had to quit his program in Syria.

I am lucky to find him that I can help him to rebuild his dream to get a university education in Germany in the future. I am also teaching 3 English courses here as well as learning German. The past 2 months have been having been one of the most beautiful periods of my life.

The city itself is equally beautiful and has historically and culturally rich background. I am definitely coming back! I totally recommend this volunteer program for one who wants to meet new people, learn German and live the daily life in Germany.

What would you improve about this program?
The program is perfect! I do not have any suggestions.
Alison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have been messing about with Arabic for several years now.
I spent three weeks on the intensive Arabic course at the Excellence Centre, and to my delight, my Arabic has improved enormously. I can communicate at last !

The Excellence Centre provides language classes, accommodation, volunteering and recreational activities. Everything can be tailored to your needs : the language learners and the volunteers I met at the Centre came from a variety of backgrounds and age groups, each of us having a different life experience and varying levels of Arabic. Everyone had a personalised programme according to their interests. This flexibility is one of the strengths of the Excellence Centre.

The people of Hebron are very welcoming indeed. Tourists and foreign language students are never harassed in the streets, on the contrary, we are greeted in the friendliest manner possible.

You can spend time in Hebron immersing yourself in language and culture, barely coming into contact with the political situation. For those interested in Human Rights and the problems of the Occupation, there is ample opportunity to dig deeper and to engage in solidarity actions. Again, the Excellence Centre offers a range of activities, after that, its all up to you !

I thoroughly enjoyed my time here, discovering a fascinating city while improving my language skills.

Alison aged 48, from France.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Just one word of warning to future students : if you come in the winter, bring plenty of warm clothes !
Daniel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I took a 2-week intensive course in the Levantine dialect of Arabic, and have improved a lot in my time at the Excellence Center. There is a real sense of community in the center, which is a great opportunity to practice more. Everybody is very welcoming and very helpful, which helped me settle into the community very easily! My lessons were very well paced, and I was constantly challenged with new material, while reviewing material I had already learned. I lived with Abboud during my stay, he was incredibly hospitable and gave me an opportunity to practice my Arabic when I was not in the Center, and Rafat very helpfully organised this for me. I would highly recommend this course to anybody who wants to learn Arabic in a supportive environment.

Violet
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I love it here in Halle! I am really going to miss being part of the community when I leave, and I am already planning a return trip. My German has drastically improved because of my exposure to the language in the city and with my host family but also because of my wonderful German teacher.

As well as being a student I have also I have also been teaching plenty of English in the centre. I have four classes, stretching from individual teaching to small group and various levels. I have found this equally challenging and rewarding but I received lots of guidance and support from Rafat and his team throughout. It has been wonderful getting to know so many different people at the centre – it is truly amazing to see all these different languages and cultures come together.

I have got into a real routine here including morning runs in the park and ice skating at the local ice rink and it was super easy to get stuck into life here. My German host family has also been wonderful welcoming me into their family, sharing their meals and making sure that I am happy in Halle. I will have to come to visit them in the future because I feel so at home here.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
So much German at the start was quite overwhelming but I got so much better so quickly that it wasn't a problem anymore. The support network here helped me through it.
Joana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Staying at the Excellence Center truly felt like being part of a family. I had the chance to stay in a host family which gave me the great opportunity of getting to know their everyday life and practice my arabic! The arabic lessons were very helpful, the classes are individual and focus on the most important things to learn. During my volunteering, I got the chance to teach in various contexts, at the Center, in schools, and in refugee camps, which was very interesting to see. I felt that the students were very eager to learn and very motivating. It was very interesting to get to know more about the Palestinian culture and people were very nice and open to internationals. I felt safe at all times and hope to come back to Hebron and the Excellence Center in the future!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I previously visited the Excellence Center in Hebron last year to do Intensive Arabic and I really enjoyed the two weeks I had; however, I wished I was staying longer, as two weeks went to fast. This year I was for one month and, in the future, I hope to stay for longer. I have a desire to become fluent in Arabic and coming to the Excellence Center was a great opportunity for me to improve my Arabic, even though that was not the main focus of the visit. The main focus was to conduct research for my dissertation in BSc Anthropology and, with the help from the Excellence Center, this became easier for me to complete.

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

I had in advance of this program created a questionnaire and interview questions and done some readings to prepare for the fieldwork. When I arrived at the Excellence Center, I had a short meeting with some staff at the Excellence Center about what I needed for my research and, from that point, the Center organised all the interviewees I conducted and all the questionnaires I collected. The only thing I needed to do was to tell them what I needed, and then they organised the rest. This made the research I conducted very easy and possible to complete within the limited time I had.

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

Be prepared for Arab time. You might have heard about the Arab time before, but if you haven't, now you will. It basically means that times works a bit differently; 9 might mean 9.30, the afternoon might be 12.00 or 14.00, and 5 minutes might be 30 minutes. When deciding to come to this Center, be prepared and accept that time runs differently, and embrace it!

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

At 9.30 am, it is Palestinian traditional breakfast at the Center together with other volunteers and staff at the Center. After that, I usually talked to the Excellence Center staff about my day.

As I did research, some days the Excellence Center staff had fixed an interview or a focus group that could fill in my questionnaire. Other days I was working on transcribing interviews. I also had two 1.5 hour lecture of Arabic each week, so when I didn't work on my research, I practised my Arabic.

At around 5 pm, I would go back home and use the rest of the day with my host family and relax. As the main focus was my own research, the weeks were very flexible, and I mostly shaped the weeks myself.

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

Last year was a bit more terrifying than it was this year. Traveling alone and living in a host family with a completely different culture than my own was a bit scary, as I did not know what to expect. However, the friendliness of the host family made this fear disappear and they actually made my stay even better as I had a family to come back to after a long day at the Center.

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!