My Experience Volunteering as a Photographer in Palestine

Impact: 4
Support: 4
Fun: 5
Value: 3
Safety: 5

My name is Calum and I am from the United States, I spent the last year in Lebanon studying Arabic and wanted to continue with the progress I made in the Levantine Dialect so naturally Palestine was the perfect fit! Don’t let the proximity of the occupation dissuade you, Hebron is the most fascinating city in the West Bank. I loved exploring both sections of the city, one side under Israeli control and the other under that of the Palestinian Authority, and I found it interesting the variety of activists, and other humanitarian organizations working on the ground here as well. The Center was nice to have as it grounded me each day. Having breakfast with the same group of people can be comforting and the familiar routine is helpful when arriving in a new city where you don’t know anyone. I took part in a number of tours and meetings organized by the Center here such as seeing the famously shutdown Shuhada Street, the last Keffiyeh factory in the West Bank, a number of glass and pottery factories, and various professors, lawyers and reporters as well. There are many opportunities for guided tours of the Old City of Hebron and I highly recommend going on one of these, just ask the center and they are happy to arrange one for you. My program was unique in that I would observe all the activities in the center and either photograph them or make small videos about them so I enjoyed the variety very much. I also taught some English and wrote a bit for the website so just because you have registered for a single program doesn’t mean you are confined to it, the Center is flexible and if you talk with them they are willing and able to
accommodate most adjustments. Palestinians are known for their hospitality so definitely go with the flow, it is normal to be
invited in for coffee or even for an entire meal so feel free to accept these invitations, plus a nice home cooked meal can be a nice change of pace from shawarmas and falafel sandwiches, but don’t take this as a criticism of either, they are both delicious and I highly suggest trying them out. I never felt in danger when I was in Hebron, for the most part locals are excited to meet foreigners and respect your personal space, though I understand I am an adult male and don’t have to worry about the types of harassment that women must deal with on a much more regular basis. Exercise regular amounts of caution, travel with a buddy at night, but don’t think it's a dangerous city in general, nothing could be further than the truth. I most definitely recommend coming to Hebron, I was never bored here but you definitely have to keep yourself busy and meet as many people as possible in my opinion. The Center here can act as a good system of support and routine but it can be a bit unorganized and you might be unsure of your
responsibilities from time to time. If, however you are self-motivated the Center is a great platform and resource for all sorts of activities and projects.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed