I completed the 1/2 arabic, 1/2 internship programme for three months. I chose this because I wanted to learn Arabic and to gain some work experience in the region before continuing with Middle Eastern studies next year. It was an incredible experience that offered me many opportunities to challenge and develop myself daily according to my interests and goals.
I had one-one lessons throughout the week with an excellent teacher (Aseel). The regular contact was essential to developing my learning process from a complete beginner in Arabic, and there was pleanty of flexibility in working out a timetable for me.
I worked with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC), a fantastic organisation that does very important and front-line work in the Old City of Hebron. There are many different areas of work with the HRC including legal matters, human rights, and development research.
My work was varied and allowed me to develop skills in: proposal writing, research, editing, trasncribing, and website design. I also got to attend many important cultural events and meetings.
During my time in Palestine, I got to see much of the West Bank and visit most of the major towns and villages, all of which are very beautiful and have much to offer. However, after visiting other places, I was glad that I spent my time living in Hebron; the welcoming and warmth of the people is unparalleled, it is relatively off the beaten track of tourism, and the presence of the Israeli occupation and settlers are at their most visible here. The city has beautiful history and architecture and as the economic hub of Palestine there are endless amounts of shops selling literally everything you could ever need.
I never felt any issue over my safety, on the contrary people often went above and beyond to look out for me. I frequently walked alone at night and always felt comfortable. A foreign passport and western look also affords you safety when crossing checkpoints and encountering Israeli military.
I stayed in the guesthouse. It is a beautiful Mamluk-era (i think) building, with pleanty of living space and recreational space (garden, rooftop, balcony). The house is in the Old City and is in the best location I know of (compared with the few other hostels and hotels in Hebron). Here you will get to know the local community, activists, and occassionally some other travellers coming through.
Overall I can sum my experience as incredibly stimulating for work and learning, socially demanding, and immersful into the Hebron daily life. I walked away having experienced and learnt much about the beautiful country and culture of Palestine as well as experiencing the history and struggles of the occupation.