My name is Maj, and I have studied Arabic and taught English with the Excellence Center from February 2018 to May 2018. I am from Denmark where I study at the university in Copenhagen. In the spring 2018 I took 6 months off between my bachelor and my master to travel to Palestine to improve my Arabic.
I studied Arabic with the competent teacher Maryam. We had Arabic class every day for three hours in the morning. The topic of the class changed almost every day which suited me very well. The teaching methods varied so I have never been bored during a class. As I am studying Political Science I asked my teacher to focus on this topic in our class which led me to have a great vocabulary on politics and have the skills to talk and discuss a difficult subject.
I started volunteering at the same time as I started studying Arabic. During my three months in Hebron I have taught the same class together with another volunteer twice a week at the Excellence Center. This has been a very good experience for me as I got the opportunity to get to know the students very well. After class we sometimes went out to eat ice cream or to have dinner which was something I enjoyed very much.
Besides from teaching at the Excellence Center I have also taught at public schools. This gave me the chance to see how the school system in Palestine functions. At the same time I enjoyed speaking with the children and teaching them English. The wonderful thing about teaching children is that you get more familiar with their native language which in this case is of course Arabic. In that way teaching English also helped me understanding Arabic better.
During my stay in Hebron I have lived with a Palestinian family. You can choose to change the family during your stay to get different experience, but I enjoyed my time with my host family so much that it was never something that crossed my mind. I owe my host family great thanks for making my time in Hebron so amazing!
I didn’t know what to expect regarding the safety situation in Hebron before I arrived but after spending three months in one of the most conservative cities in Palestine where the occupation is close to daily life I discovered that there was nothing to be afraid of. I have not once felt unsafe during my stay. People are very friendly and if you need help finding your way there will always be someone guiding you. The Palestinians are very outgoing so if you want to practice Arabic with other Palestinians than your teacher you will have a great opportunity to do that with people in shops and everywhere you go. As a woman travelling to Palestine there are different rules than for the men when it comes to staying out alone in the evening. I chose to follow the general costumes regarding this though the few times I went out alone in the night I didn’t feel unsafe.
Choosing to volunteer at the Excellence Center and living with a Palestinian family have been one of the best things I have done. The staff at the Excellence Center is so friendly and you feel welcomed from the moment you step into the center. I would definitely recommend this to others who want to learn Arabic and get familiar with the Palestinian culture.