My Experience at the Excellence Center

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My name is Meg and I am a registered nurse in the United States of America. I came to the Excellence Center to learn Arabic and volunteer teaching workshops to nursing students. Volunteering at the Excellence Center has been an amazing and unforgettable experience. During my time volunteering at the center I developed and facilitated workshops related to ethics in healthcare, communication skills, medical terminology, patient education, and disease prevention. I made so many friends at the center and frequently went exploring Hebron with the amazing students.
The staff at the Excellence Center are so warm and welcoming. Every morning I would come eat breakfast with the staff and other volunteers at the center before beginning my day of volunteering and/or exploring. In addition to the wonderful experience I had teaching the students, I also had an excellent experience learning Arabic. My teacher was incredibly knowledgeable, truly loved teaching Arabic, and was always available to help me with translation or pronunciation, even if I wasn’t at the center. Additionally, Hebron is a great place to practice your Arabic with the locals and people are always willing to help you learn words or correct your pronunciation. My Arabic teacher explained the basics to me in a way that was easy to understand and he made the lessons fun! I volunteered at the center for two weeks but feel like I learned so much in such a short amount of time! I thoroughly enjoyed learning Arabic at the center and I hope to continue my studies when I return home.
In addition to exploring the wonderful city of Hebron on my own, a local volunteer took me to the old town, Al-Ibrahimi mosque, the best falafel shop in town, the only remaining kufiyeh factory in the West Bank, multiple bookstores, and also set me up with locals in other West Bank towns to provide me with guided tours (an excellent way to explore cities in the West Bank!). During my time in Palestine I explored Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Jericho, and even got a chance to float in the Dead Sea!
Staying with a host family was another wonderful experience. My host family lived in Halhul, about a 10-minute taxi ride or a 45-minute walk to the Excellence Center. My family made me feel right at home. They fed me dinner every night and made sure I had everything that I needed to be comfortable during my stay. I was able to try delicious authentic Palestinian dishes like maqloubeh and knafeh! Furthermore, there is no need at all to worry about your safety in Palestine because it is incredibly safe here. Not once have I felt concerned, threatened, or unsafe. This is my second visit to Palestine alone and definitely not the last! Palestine is by far one of the safest places I have ever traveled to!
Palestine is such a beautiful country and the people will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. Palestine does not just have amazing people—it has incredible food as well!! The sights and smells of walking down the street or through the souk are unforgettable. People’s generosity is apparent everywhere you go, just like the Arabic coffee! I will miss so many things about Palestine, but I will miss the people more than anything. If you want an authentic Palestinian experience, and an amazing way to connect with the young people of Palestine, then you should volunteer at the Excellence Center! I will definitely be back to Palestine soon, and would never pass up a chance to visit Hebron and its amazing people!

How can this program be improved?
I would suggest the volunteers be given information on exactly what they will be doing when they arrive. I was unsure about my responsibilities until I arrived and I had to rush to complete powerpoints for my workshop. It would have been nice to have had some direction prior to arrival so I could have had more time to work on the powerpoints and prepare for the workshops!
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed