My ten days in Palestine

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I accidentally came across the Excellence Centre during a web search when I was planning a visit to the Middle East so as to improve my fledgling knowledge of Arabic. I was intrigued by the possibility of both learning Arabic and engaging in voluntary work in Palestine and decided to spend my Christmas holiday in Hebron. I have not regretted my choice.
During the first part of my visit I studied Arabic for three hours a day, during the second part I engaged in voluntary work with shorter Arabic lessons. I feel I made a great deal of progress with my knowledge of Arabic during a short period of time. This is largely due to the excellent teaching I received at the Centre. My teacher Sheyma introduced a lot of variety into the lessons, alternating grammar exercises with speaking activities and reading texts. I particularly appreciated having discussions with her about current affairs and learning a lot of vocabulary in the process.
Doing voluntary work was an opportunity to contribute to the education of Palestinian students. One of my activities was to assist students in composing a cv in English. It was a pleasure to see how the students engaged with the group activities organised by the volunteers and see how, during the course of two hours, their understanding about the contents and structure of a cv developed and increased.
In the evenings I always received a warm welcome from my host family who not only helped me with my Arabic, but also introduced me to a delicious variety of Palestinian dishes. It is the norm for female students at the Excellence Centre to stay with host families, enabling them to experience life in Palestine in a way that is not open to tourists.
The staff at the Centre are very helpful and take great care to ensure that students feel comfortable and learn about Palestinian history and culture. They organise visits within Hebron, such as to the old city or to a glass blowing factory, where skills going back to the Roman period are still practised. A particular highlight of my stay in Hebron was an excursion to the Dead Sea organised by staff from the Excellence Centre. On our way to the Dead Sea we stopped at the Mar Saba Monastery and a caravanserai containing, according to Muslim belief, the remains of Moses. Once on the shores of the Dead Sea we organise a splendid barbecue on the shores of the Dead Sea accompanied by dancing and smoking the shisha.
On my last day of Arabic classes my teacher took me to have breakfast in one of the famous eateries of the city. Whilst I had enjoyed fatteh - a dish consisting of bread mixed with strained yoghurt, chick peas, spices and olive oil - the fatteh I had in Hebron was probably the best I have ever eaten, not least because the added pine kernels gave it a particularly subtle flavour.
I will return home being able to look back at ten days with my knowledge of Arabic increased and full of memorable experiences.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
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