Why did you choose this program?
A bit of a coincidence really. I was planning a long trip to the Middle East and remembered someone who came in to my secondary school to talk about the Israel/Palestine conflict for Religious Education. He'd been volunteering with a human rights programme there. I remember thinking that it sounded really exciting, so I searched online for humanitarian volunteering in Palestine. GoPalestine was one the first to come up.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The people at GoPalestine assisted me with everything I needed. Before the trip we had several conversations so that I knew what to pack, what to expect and how to get there. When you arrive, you are their guest and they look after you with all the warm Middle Eastern hospitality you could wish for. It's kind of like having personal guides taking you round the city and introducing you to people.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
This is such a friendly and relaxed programme, the only advice I would really want to give someone is to take every opportunity to make the most of it. If people invite you for a meal, or for coffee, say yes. If they offer to take you to see someone, say yes. If they give you the opportunity to contribute to some project, say yes. Basically just keep saying yes. They're the best people you could hope to meet, and you'll end up with lots of experiences and lots of friends.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
You get a schedule before the week starts. Breakfast is at 8:30 each morning, and after that you'll have sessions teaching English, learning Arabic, or going to meet people who work in your area. For me, this meant going to meet lots of journalists, human rights lawyers, entrepreneurs etc. You get free time, too, and at weekends (Friday and Saturday here) the days are yours to explore as you like.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was not really bothered about security - the West Bank is not very dangerous currently, and I felt safe throughout. My biggest worries were over how nice the accommodation would be, and if I'd get on with the other volunteers. There were no problems with either in the end. In reality the hardest thing is the travel itself, because there are lots of suspicious Israeli checkpoints and security guards, so you'll need as much sincerity and confidence as you can manage.