It's hard to do justice with a review by describing my experience as a volunteer at The Excellence Center as it was truly mesmerising.
My time spent at the Excellence Center, although very short, was amazing very much because of the people and staff I got to meet. Mahmoud, Rafat, Elisa and the students I worked with frequently over a span of a week were warm and they made me feel at home easily - I was glad to find out that the refugee students were enthusiastic about learning English and therefore, they participated actively during lessons. To add, I was most impressed by the tenacity of the students whom I met with - most of them are young (otherwise very young at heart!) and incredibly intelligent that it became such a pleasure to learn more about themselves, their families and aspirations.
From Day 1, the programme set out clear expectations for me and the level of involvement that I would be comfortable with as a volunteer. Aside from my main responsibilities (i.e teach English lessons), I was happy to learn that I would be participating in one of their social and cultural events - the evening turned out great with a lively crowd and that was my first time being able to mingle with many people of different native tongues; it was an eye-opener to see the local community coming together to converse in Arabic, German and English. Elisa, who taught me German had encouraged me to practice my language skills during the event and I was definitely motivated to continue on my learning journey after hearing from others about their own.
At the end of the week, I was able to join a friendly city tour organised by the staffs to explore the sights and history of Halle - that capped off my week on a very good note! Despite the short time I was around, I am grateful for the thoughtful consideration by Rafat and the rest of the center to plan the activities to ensure my time during the programme was well spent.
Not to forget, Rafat coordinated smoothly to match me with a local home. I can't forget how my host introduced me to her friends and graciously helped me practise German! She sat down on the couch and gave me a notebook to write some important words to learn :) As for food, I can't say enough how much I appreciated the breakfast meals as that saved time for me - I must say I miss the traditional Arabic breakfasts hugely now that I am back home.
Lastly, this was something I read about in another review for the programme and it actually proved true for me - the only thing I would change is to spend at least 2-3 weeks to be able to continue the rapport there.
I enjoyed the hospitality of the families, staff and people I met with and the efforts that I saw at the Excellence Center working with refugees who are settling their lives in Germany is truly inspiring.
I would definitely consider coming back in 2019.