La Casa Learning Center

Program Reviews

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Jon
10/10

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.

The Arabic:
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.

The internship:
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.

Hebron:
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.

Safety:
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.

Accommodation:
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.

How can this program be improved?
This programme is really what you make of it. There are endless opportunities for working with people and different projects thanks to the links between La Casa and the wider community of Hebron.
Yes, I recommend
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Jackie
9/10

I stayed in Hebron for about five weeks and had a really great time. I taught English classes at La Casa three to four times a week, and took Arabic classes with Aya three times a week. The students were very sweet and respectful and eager to learn. They were really friendly and invited me to their homes, took me to their favorite coffee shops, and gave me a tour of the city. The Arabic classes were awesome -- I feel like my Arabic improved hugely. I came in at an intermediate level with a background in classical Arabic, but I studied the Palestinian dialect at La Casa. My teacher Aya was incredible! She was so kind and patient and a pleasure to spend time with. The entire La Casa staff was very welcoming and accommodating.

I stayed at Lamar Hostel, which is located within walking distance from La Casa. It's a beautiful building with air conditioning, wi-fi, a kitchen, and televisions. It was a great place to stay and very reasonably priced for the quality. I was very comfortable there, and the manager was very friendly. He took us to some protests and cultural events around town, gave us tours of the Old City, and shared his knowledge and stories of Hebron and life in Palestine. Staying at Lamar Hostel felt like being part of a big, welcoming host family.

As a 21-year old American woman traveling alone, I felt extremely safe in Hebron. I frequently walked around the city by myself and never felt unsafe. Palestinians are incredibly friendly and welcoming. I've never met people like them before. I miss Hebron already and hope to go back next summer. I loved this program and loved spending time in Palestine. Everyone should visit this country!

How can this program be improved?
The program could be better organized. There were sometimes confusing mix-ups with the teaching schedule at La Casa due to a lack of clear communication between La Casa staff and volunteers.
Yes, I recommend
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Anna
10/10

I spent one month with La Casa in Spring of 2016. I did the TELA program and had Arabic classes with Aya. I took Arabic 3 times per week for 2 hours per class and I loved it. The Arabic classes were super helpful. I studied Palestinian dialect and used what I learned in class every day while I stayed in Palestine. I also taught some English classes every week, sometimes alone and sometimes with another teacher. The students are AMAZING. I love that they are mostly University students because we could talk about interesting subjects and they felt comfortable discussing their culture and asking me about mine. La Casa is in the middle of the city, and 2 floors below a coffeeshop which is great. I really liked the staff, everyone was super welcoming and invited me to hangout in the center whenever I wanted.

Now that I am back in the US, I really miss Hebron and want to return. I felt surprisingly safe living there. The people are really nice. I was invited to a wedding and several dinners by students and friends that I met while in the city.

I stayed at Lamar Guesthouse which was beautiful and probably nicer than my apartment at home. My family was shocked when I sent them pics of where I was staying. It definitely made them feel better about me being in Palestine.

I was really happy with the program and I hope to return next summer. I wish I would have done more than one month though. It's hard to see everything Palestine has to offer in one month. Every weekend I travelled around but I still have a long list of places I want to visit- so I will be back! Seriously though -- many thanks to La Casa.

How can this program be improved?
Sometimes the schedule is a bit unorganized and they could work on that. But that's such a minor issue. Everyone is super nice and accommodating.
Yes, I recommend
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Celeste
9/10

After studying politics for years in college, I wanted to come to Palestine to see the occupation for myself. It was really eye-opening being here. There's so much that you will learn that you can't see on the news and by watching documentaries or reading reports. It was so amazing to live in the Old City with a Palestinian family, with settlers as neighbours.. crazy!! We literally could hear them singing in their houses. I really liked teaching conversation classes, my students were fun and eager to learn. I liked the city, it's easy to move around and La Casa is in a convenient location. It was a really great experience. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about Palestine!

Yes, I recommend
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Bridgett
10/10

The best part of this program was the opportunity to stay with a host family while I completed my internship. The host family I was lucky enough to stay with went above and beyond my expectations. They did not treat me like a guest, they treated me like family. The entire community, be it La Casa staff or strangers on the streets, treats you like family. It is impossible to go somewhere without hearing "Welcome to Hebron!". This was the best experience of my life, and I cannot wait to return!

Yes, I recommend
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Tyler
9/10

This program is truly remarkable. It was one of the few study abroad volunteer opportunities I could find that gave me an opportunity to truly see the Arab-Israeli conflict first hand. The opportunity fit perfectly with my studies in International Relations and I got to experience how both the Israelis and Palestinians lived here. The english class schedule is extremely flexible, which gives you ample amount of time to travel around the city and experience the culture. I was worried about the health and safety concerns but once I got here the concerns quickly dispersed. The people in Hebron are extremely friendly. Often times I will get invited to dinner or for tea just walking down the street. This is an amazing eye-opening experience.

Yes, I recommend
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lesly
10/10

Most things associated with the West Bank were not generally the best but living there for almost two months changed my opinion on it completely. Its a wonderful city filled some of the most friendly people that love foreigners. Working at La Casa was truly a great experience and I look forward to visiting again when I get the chance.

How can this program be improved?
A little more structure would be nice, but it shows you how things work in Palestine.
Yes, I recommend
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Michael
9/10

The students and staff at La Casa were extraordinarily kind and helpful. I taught two conversational English courses and also prepared these students for the Key English Test. The immutable adage that you learn as much as you teach could have been written for my experience. As I had never taught before, it was a steep learning curve, but both the students and staff were accommodating and encouraging throughout my time. I highly recommend La Casa for anyone interested in teaching, learning Arabic, or living in Palestine.

How can this program be improved?
At first, it was difficult for me to draw out information regarding the English level I would be teaching and other details regarding the beginning of my classes. It would be helpful if this information is presented in an organized and coherent way in the future.
Yes, I recommend
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Jack
10/10

I stayed with a host family in Herbon, and i also taught in the school. It truly was an amazing experience. The city surprised me, not only did i feel completely safe all of the time, but the people were also incredibly welcoming and friendly. One day i hope these people find peace, they deserve it.

Yes, I recommend
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Massimo
9/10

I arrived in Hebron on the 1st of September.
As one may imagine, I was worried about all the issues a westerner can be worried about. As time went by I was increasingly surprised of how people were peaceful and friendly with me.
I lived with a Palestinian host family. This makes the experience far more interesting, since you have the opportunity to taste good local food and to see how a Palestinian family daily lives..
Communication was not very easy, since nobody in the family spoke English Some friends helped me when I needed it, but, in the end, this king of issues force you to learn basic Arabic as quick as you can.
Talking about teaching English, I can say that it has been a wonderful opportunity to get into the culture, since every student was willing to know about foreign cultures and to talk about his/her own one.

As an overall judgment of the program I can say I am satisfied of the experience..

Yes, I recommend