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The Excellence Center

About

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.

Reviews

Default avatar
Tomi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Verliebt in Halle!

My time at the Excellence Center was short but sweet. At first I was very nervous about teaching English and learning German but as the days went by and I got to know people at the Center, I felt more comfortable and confident.
It was fun and rewarding teaching my students English and helping them understand certain topics. They were of different ages and backgrounds so I wanted to tailor my classes in a way that would relate to them individually. It was nice getting to know them and I'm glad that they kept coming back!
My German classes were also great! I felt way more confident with German by the time I left. As others have said, Muaz is an excellent teacher (vielen dank Muaz!)
Overall I had a very memorable experience. Halle has many beautiful buildings and cool people, and I would recommend this city to anyone that wants to visit somewhere more laid back in Germany. Big thanks to Rafat, Elisa, Danny, Radwan, Muaz, Ali, Steve and my students for the experience!

Pros
  • Good amount of teaching experience
  • Breakfast!
  • Kindness/support of volunteers & staff
Cons
  • Saying goodbye
Default avatar
Paul
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Study Arabic Hebron Review

I studied Arabic for three months in the Excellence Center. I visited several cities in the West Bank and in the Occupied Lands including an visit to Deir Mar Saba, a place I am sure I would not have visited if the Excellence Center had not organized it.

My Arabic lessons were great. I have learned a lot of Arabic in my three months here. My teachers were native Palestinians speakers with university degrees and experienced in teaching Arabic to non-native speakers.

Hebron is very safe and the people are very nice.

Pros
  • Excellent teaching
  • Free Breakfast everyday
  • Welcoming community
Cons
  • Security and border control at the airport
Default avatar
Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Unforgettable Experience in Hebron with the Excellence Center

My name is Michael, I am 49 years old and come from Germany.

Here is a feedback about my stay in Palestine in September 2022.

Activities at excellence center
intensive Arabic immersion Program for one month

Arabic lessons
4 lessons a day, 5 times a week
very well organised
Well structured
Highly professional teacher, top notch!

Centers environment
Very experienced in what they are offering
Very Friendly stuff
Competent teachers
Very nice students / volunteers

Site visits
Ibrahims oak
Tour with Palestine students to Ibrahim mosque, plastic factory and old city
Attend an official meeting about some issues of Hebron in regard of energy, water supply
Wonderful Tour with my teacher through the old city and shopping - good chance to practice the Arabic

Visited places in Palestine
Bethlehem
Nablus
Jerusalem

Safety and security in Palestine
When you go to visit Israel and Palestine it is clear, that will enter a different world than you are used to in Europe/America.
However, I always felt very comfortable and safe during my stay.

Liked most in Palestine
very very very friendly people!
Always got help when I needed it
Hospitality is not just a word - it is part of the Palestinian DNA

Overall experience
I can fully recommend the excellence Center for other students / volunteers and would be very happy if I might come back in 2023.

Thank you for the wonderful four weeks.

Default avatar
Lilith
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One week intensive Arabic course

As a complete beginner when I started the course, I now have a basic understanding of the language and a foundation for further learning. My teacher was excellent and I felt very comfortable learning with him. He made learning fun and we laughed a lot during class. I appreciated that I was with only one other student rather than a large class as this made learning faster and tailored to our needs and expectations. For me personally, I could of studied more than 3 hours per day, but after speaking with the other students 3 hours per day was enough for them.
I loved staying with a host family and I formed a close bond with them in one week.
I would of liked if the center offered meetings with NGOs and activists... in the week I was here there wasn't the opportunity for this.

Pros
  • Housing provided by the center
  • Kind staff
  • Fun teacher
Cons
  • Accommodation 40 minute walk
Default avatar
Zoe
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Womens Rights Programme Hebron

Hi, my name is Zoe and I am a 19-year-old politics and economics student from the UK.
While at the Excellence Center, I participated in the women's rights programme so I spent most of my time visiting different organisations and talking to women about their experiences living and working in Palestine. It was incredibly inspiring to see their determination and creativity, even in the face of such severe challenges. I especially enjoyed meeting some of the female journalists, both at the WAFA agency and at the Al Huriya radio station. At the core of the Palestinian struggle is a fight against supression of the Palestinian perspective
and narratives propagated by the media. It was shocking to
hear directly from these women about the ways in which the news agencies had been
targeted by Israeli forces; through forced eviction from the building, nighttime raids and
destruction of equipment as well as opposition in the field. While hearing about these
challenges, I was especially struck by their relentlessness and courage which really
highlighted the importance of the work they were doing.
The Arabic lessons at the center were very well structured, focussing on both reading and
speaking. Marwa was an amazing teacher and being able to apply everything we learnt
immediately talking to my host family and other people we met around Hebron made the
language much easier to remember. Apparently, I’ve even picked up a slight Hebron accent!
Staying with a host family was such a privilege as it allowed me to have an insider
perspective on the culture and feel properly integrated into the community. I was even
invited to join my family at a wedding which was an incredible experience!
The environment at the center is warm and friendly so I felt at home after no time at all. The other volunteers and staff get along very well and I have made many friends I know I will stay in contact with. One piece of advice is to try and be really open to trying new things and using all the Arabic you learn without worrying about making mistakes.
I felt safe most of the time in Hebron. There were a couple of times when we came back late
from visiting other cities where it had gotten dark, but the other
volunteers I was with were very good at making sure everyone got home safely. As with
everywhere, it is important to take precautions, but I felt safe enough to travel by myself and
found people friendly and eager to help.
While here, I also got the chance to visit some other cities in Palestine; Jerusalem,
Bethlehem and Nablus. It was really interesting to see the differences between the cities and
experience a broader range of Palestinian culture. I would especially recommend Nablus-
the Kanafeh there is world renowned!
After spending 2 weeks here, I would definitely love to come back! I have really enjoyed
getting to know Hebron and the people here and would like to spend more time travelling
throughout Palestine and further developing my understanding of the situation here. I have
been incredibly struck by the warmth of the people here and the beauty of the landscape and
culture so would definitely recommend visiting!

Pros
  • Excellent teaching
  • Kind staff
  • Experience Palestinian culture

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Rosalind Dyveke Dale

Rosalind Dyveke Dale

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
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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!