For the past three months, I have been participating in the teaching English and studying Arabic programme. I have learnt a lot of Arabic while here, as I arrived without knowledge of the language. My Arabic teacher was very good at working through the basics, from the alphabet and introducing myself. As well as learning in the classroom, living in Hebron and hanging out at the centre with the Palestinian teachers meant that I had more than just 3 hours of learning Arabic a week. It is the teachers and other volunteers that make the centre so special and why I had such a good three months, with everyone being so understanding and accommodating. Therefore, it is incredibly easy to make friends quickly, with Palestinians you’ll meet in the street and everyone at the centre.
During my time with the centre, I was able to visit most of Palestine, either on trips with the centre or with the other volunteers as we attempted to see as much of the beautiful country as we could. As well as being able to explore the city of Hebron with the Palestinian friends I had made or on tours with the centre. The fact that most of the major cities are fairly close means that it is very easy to explore the West Bank, either on your own or with the other volunteers. On my first weekend in Palestine, I was able to visit Ramallah to visit the museums there. Since then I have been able to see the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the old city of Jerusalem, as well as the Dead Sea and ate Knafeh in Nablus.
Living in Hebron has been an amazing and interesting experience, particularly at the start. I began living in a shared apartment close to the centre and the main street in the city with three other volunteers. The apartment was fairly basic but quickly became home. When I arrived in March it was very cold, which was something that very few of the other volunteers had prepared for, so it was very welcome during our visit to the Dead Sea and when the temperature start to increase. In the last month of my trip, I moved to a shared dorm that I originally thought I’d be staying in and while it had a few issues, they were all quickly fixed. The shared dorm being closer to the downtown area of Hebron means that there is a lot more to do in the evening and most of my time not in the centre has been spent at a variety of coffee shops all over Hebron.
Despite some of the concerns that I may have had about safety before I arrived, they quickly subsided as I realised that the city is quite safe and the friendly and hospitable nature of everyone I have met has meant that I have quickly felt at home and safe walking through the streets at any time. There have been many times that I have felt much safer here in Hebron than I have late at night in London.
The best part of my time here in Palestine has been the people that I have met here, the Palestinians have been so incredibly nice and I was often invited to dinner and the volunteers that I have met here quickly became very good friends that I will remain in contact with. Overall my experience in Palestine has been outstanding and I highly recommend to everyone to come and experience it for themselves, the people, land and culture.