Study Arabic in Palestine
93% Rating
(63 Reviews)

Study Arabic in Palestine

Join The Excellence Center In Palestine In 2018
The Excellence Center in Palestine welcomes applications for the next year 2018. Furthermore, the Center will publish 9 new community development programs for internationals who would like to come to Palestine to volunteer, visit, intern or study Arabic next month.

Greetings from Palestine. We would be happy to have you at the Excellence Center in 2018 :)

The Excellence Center would like to invite you to participate in the Study Arabic Intensive Program in Hebron. The Arabic Program combines studying Arabic with an immersion into the Palestinian culture and history.

International participants study the Arabic language with Palestinian teachers in interactive ways. Language studies include learning the Palestinian dialect and Modern Standard Arabic. We offer Arabic courses for all levels from starters to advanced learners. The Excellence Center provides international students with all necessary books needed in the course.

The Study Arabic Program is a singular opportunity for students searching to make a unique difference in their lives. While studying Arabic in Hebron, they are also involved in community development activities that are organized by the Excellence Centre.

The program is an optimal opportunity that gives an intimate, first-hand experience of Palestinian life and the political realities of that life in Hebron

Highlights
  • Stay with a Palestinian family in Hebron
  • Engagement with Palestinian youth in cultural and educational activities
  • Visit unique tourist attractions with a non-touristic perspective
  • Live and engage in the Palestinian daily life
  • Meet new people and make new Palestinian and international friends
Locations
Asia » Palestine
Program Type
Provider
Subject Areas
Accounting
Advertising
African Studies
African-American Studies
Agriculture
American Studies
Animal Science
Art History
Asian American Studies
Asian Studies
Astronomy
Australian Studies
Aviation
Biochemistry
Botany
Chemistry
Communications
Conflict Studies
Conservation and Preservation
Creative Writing
Criminal Justice
Cultural Studies
Design
Earth Sciences
East Asian Studies
Ecology
English Literature
European Studies
Finance
Food Science and Nutrition
Geography
Hospitality
Jewish Studies
Middle Eastern Studies
Peace Studies
Public Relations
Service Learning
Social Sciences
Sustainable Development
Women's Studies
Degree Level
High School Diploma
Associates
Bachelors
Masters
PhD.
Timeframe
Academic Year
Fall
J-Term
Maymester
Short Term
Spring
Spring Break
Summer
Winter
Accommodation
Apartment
Dormitory
Host Family
Inclusions
Accommodation
Activities
Meals
Some Activities
Wifi
Exclusions
Airfare
Airport Transfers
SIM cards
Transportation
Travel Insurance
Visa
Language
Arabic
Steps
Online Application
Letters of Recommendation
Phone / Skype Interview
Starting Price
$500.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
The program fees include: pre-departure support, accommodations with a host family, some of the Meals, full coordination while volunteering in Palestine, and some visits to different sites in the city of Hebron.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Academics
    89%
  • Support
    92%
  • Fun
    85%
  • Housing
    88%
  • Safety
    90%

Program Reviews (63)

Default avatar
Erica
Female
24 years old
Sweden
Other

Studying arabic in Excellence center

10/10

My name is Erica and I’m a teacher student from Sweden. I took a two month arabic intensive course at the Excellence center. I am very happy with the course and my teacher. She really did a great job to variate my lessons and to make it fun and interesting. I am very satisfied because of how my arabic has improved.
I spent a lot of my time in the center. We had breakfast together everyday, and usually I stayed after class to make my homework. I liked the center because of its nice staff, teachers, volunteers and students.
The center also arranged trips to Jerusalem, Betlehem, local factories, the dead sea, a village and a refugee camp. And since I made some Palestinian friends, I also got the chance to go on trips with them to Nablus and Ramallah.
During my stay in Hebron I lived with a palestinian family. They were all very friendly, and I felt very welcomed. The city is very pleasant with nice coffee shops, cafés and restaurant. But what I didn’t know before I came here was how conservative the city is.
The palestinians I’ve met has been very friendly, and the only times I didn’t feel safe was while walking alone in the evening. The hardest thing for me to cope with during my stay was the traditions. It was never a big issue for me, but I got comments like ”Don’t smoke in the street” and ”Cover your body”. But it’s a good experience to see what life’s like for women in Hebron. It’s also good practice for you to put your own beliefs aside for a while due to respect for the culture and religion here.
The things I will miss the most about Hebron is the delicious food, the warm weather and the hospitality. The warm welcoming every time you enter a shop or restaurant is rare to find in Scandinavia.
If you want to improve your arabic, I really recommend you to take classes at the Excellence center.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Erica,

Thank you for leaving a review. It was very nice having you for two months in Palestine. We enjoyed your stay as well.

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you in the future in Palestine

Warm regards from the entire EC's team

Miroslav
Male

Palestine experience

9/10

My name is Miroslav, I'm 32 years old and I'm from the Czech Republic. I graduated in Architecture and Urbanism at the Czech Technical University in Prague. At the Excellence Centre I was studying Arabic for one month which meant 4 lessons per day 5 times a week.
As I'm working in Prague I have one month of holiday only so I decided to focus on Arabic rather then being volunteer at the Centre. My teacher was دعاء and I'm appreciating her approach and skills. She tried to do her best to help me with Arabic as well as with learning vocabulary. I have learned a lot however I would need at least another month to be able to communicate on a level that I would like to have.
As for the Centre itself, I was attending lessons in the new Centre which is quite big and comfortable. The staff, teachers, international volunteers and students were very nice and I really enjoyed time at the Centre. Sometimes we had common dinner and every day before the lesson there was a common breakfast. The Centre organised some trips within the city as well as out of the city. We went together to Jerusalem and a village called Susya, there was also possibility to visit a glass factory in Hebron. All trips were very nice and I'm happy I could visit a place such as Susya.
During my stay in Hebron I tried to travel a lot and so I visited Jenin, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Dahrija. All the cities are accessible by local service and except to Jenin it is possible to visit them in a one day trip. I didn't go to Nablus and Jericho because I already visited these cities last year. I would recommend everyone to travel within the West Bank because each city has different atmosphere.
Hebron itself is a city that has a Jewish settlement in the very centre which creates some difficulties for its citizens as well as for visitors. However I can't say I would feel unsafe in Hebron. Sometimes it happens that Israely soldiers are coming to the centre and in this situations it is better to stay at home.
If I focus on living, me and other guys either volunteers or students only, we were staying in a old house in the very centre of Hebron. I like architecture of the house however I would recommend some improvment, for example in the shower where water pressure was to small to unable us to wash ourself comfortably.
When I decided to come to Hebron to the Excellence Centre I had already known something about Palestine because I had travelled a lot in the region. However I have to say that to stay there for one month was a different experience in a positive way and I realy enjoyed people's hospitality, food and (...) water pipes. In Hebron you can realize what the occupation is, how it is influencing people's lives etc. I would recommend everyone who is interested in Palestinian culture and the region to came to Hebron.
I wish I could come back again.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Miroslav,

Greetings from the Excellence Center team. We enjoyed your stay in Palestine as well. Thank you for sharing your experience

We wish you all the success in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Nick
Male
22 years old
London
University of Oxford

A week of Arabic in Hebron

8/10

My only regret is not having been able to stay longer. The Excellence Centre's management are wonderfully relaxed about when you arrive, when you leave and what skills you want to focus on, which makes it possible to fit your stay around other commitments. I'm especially grateful to Usama for helping me settle in and showing me the best falafel dive in town, and Maryam for listening patiently for a solid 3-4 hours as I babbled ceaselessly about what I'd done the day before, my favourite colour etc. When classes were over, we got a chance to what Palestinian culture is really about, through visits to a glass furnace, a sandal factory run by hand, the last kuffiyeh factory in Palestine and the old city, squashed between an Israeli settlement and a heavily guarded checkpoint. All in all this course was informal and relaxed in all the right ways, while delivering an intense and very practical language programme. My fellow foreigners who'd been around for longer seemed to have forged real friendships within the community; Hebron is welcoming, positive and interested in visitors.

How can this program be improved?

I made the mistake of coming just before Eid, so travel out of Hebron will probably be very crowded and some of the teachers were fasting. These might be factors to take into account when you're planning dates of travel.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Nick,

Greetings from Palestine. We enjoyed your short stay very much. We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Cynthia
Female
20 years old
United States
University of Mississippi

The Excellence Center: 2 Months Teaching and Learning in Hebron

10/10

My name is Cynthia, and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi studying International Relations. I am from the United States, and I am participating in the Teach English, Speak Arabic program at the Excellence Center.

Before I came to Hebron this summer, I was under the impression that I was going to be living in a conflict zone, that I’d have IDF soldiers walking up and down the street, and that fear and political tension would be oppressively present in every part of my daily life. Professors who have traveled to the West Bank told me that I’d want to have someone to whom I could vent to about the situation. I read many, many news articles online that pointed to instability in the Palestinian Territories, and that living there meant inevitably being involved in protests and politics.

However, the understanding of the situation in Palestine among not only common people, but also among those who study the Middle East, is gravely skewed. I had prepared myself for a summer of politics, when I really did not need to. I have spent the past two months with the Excellence Center, teaching English in both the city of Hebron and the village of Kharas. It wasn’t a political experience. It wasn’t unsafe, and it wasn’t nearly what I thought it would be. I lived in a beautiful house, had plenty of hot water for my showers, and the electricity never was cut off. I took public transportation by myself, and passed checkpoints easily whenever I travelled to the Hebron settlement or Jerusalem. While I did have to adjust to the culture with both my host family and the classroom, volunteering with the Excellence Center has given nothing but wonderful insight and impressions of Hebron and the West Bank.

Every day this summer, I would take the bus in the morning from the village where I lived to the center. Ialways would breakfast with the entire Excellence Center staff, which was a great time for me to talk to my friends before we went our own ways for the day. During breakfast, all the Excellence Center volunteers were constantly engaged in interesting political discussions as we talked about Brexit, the Trump election, South African politics, or Hawaii’s complicated relationship to the United States. The people here at the Excellence Center come from such diverse backgrounds, so there’s always a multitude of conversation topics. This was one of my most favorite aspects of working here at the center: being constantly surrounded by people who had so many different perspectives and opinions that no one ever had the same ideas about any subject. Sometimes we would talk about weddings, and the former professional chef from New York City would talk about how she catered an extremely fancy wedding last year. Or we could be talking about Trump, and the conversation would just move to talking about the alt-right movements in Europe. We would always share our languages with each other too, picking up words in Swedish, Danish, Chinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Italian, and Spanish, as we all taught English and learned Arabic.

The environment here at the Excellence Center is nothing but positive and supportive, even on the worst of days. There’s always someone to talk to, someone to rant to, someone to celebrate with, and someone to study with. Everyone is excited to experience new things, tease out new bits of Palestinian culture that we don’t understand, and to support each other for the time that we’re here. Adjusting to life in a conservative, religious city can be hard, but the people and internationals at the Excellence Center make it much easier.

The most important lesson that I’ve learned from my time here in Palestine is that you really need to go to its cities, meet its people, spend time on its streets and in its public transportation system, and eat in its restaurants and coffee shops if you really want to know what life is like there. My life here in Hebron doesn’t look like your Al-Jazeera documentary or your exposé from the New York Times. No amount of academic research or talking to my professors could have given me the same knowledge that living in Hebron did. I experienced Palestinian culture and what it means to live under occupation. I learned a lot about Palestinian classroom culture, and the positive and negative aspects of having foreigners teach English classes to Palestinian students. I learned how to cook Mensif and Makloubeh, and about how many spoon-fulls of sugar to put in a pot of Arabic tea. Teaching at the Excellence Center has been an invaluable experience that has changed the way in which I look at life and education in the West Bank. I will not leave Palestine with extensive experiences in protests or the IDF, but I know a lot more about Palestinian daily life, which is almost more valuable.

Teaching English and learning Arabic at the Excellence Center was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The experiences I have had and the people that I have met have changed my life for the better, and my knowledge in the Palestinian Question has increased in ways that I had not thought possible before.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Cynthia,

Greetings to you. Thank you so much for your great work at the Excellence Center during the last two months. It was very nice to have you as well. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Marli
Female
31 years old
Australia
University of Melbourne

Arabic Individual Course

8/10

Marli, Australia

I currently work as a town planner, with a previous Bachelor and Masters degree, in Australia and have recently been working in Arabic speaking counties and have been looking for a program to enable me to learn the language as a beginner.

With no prior knowledge of Arabic, I undertook beginners Arabic lessons at the Excellence Centre. While having only a small window of two weeks, these intensive one-to-one daily classes provided me with a solid foundation on which to develop my understanding of the language.

One-to-one tuition enabled flexibility in the coursework to adapt to my ability and needs, notably my preference for learning conversational colloquial Arabic and for navigating the basics of daily life around Palestine. Every class built a base of new vocabulary and grammar, leaving me with a awareness of how to further develop my Arabic speaking and writing beyond my time in Hebron.

Greeted to a friendly, welcoming atmosphere everyday, the Centre was an integral home base for my experience in Hebron. Local students were none too shy to test their conversational English skills or in turn for me to test my own.

This overall experience was confounded by the opportunity to stay with a local Hebron family. They were extremely hospitable and eager to include a clueless foreigner in all aspects of their social and cultural life. Whether invited to a celebratory family meal or an extravagant local wedding, the home stay experience provided the perfect place to test my new found Arabic skills.

Hebron is a unique city, small and quiet enough to feel at home, yet never far from the fireworks of a wedding party. For a solo female traveler, there is little to feel uncomfortable about as the streets of the city centre as always frequented by local women and girls. The city is easily walkable, if you are fit enough to tackle the steep hills, and stumble across many a fig tree or grapevine.

For an Arabic novice the experience may not be as straightforward or reveal as much about locals customs as more experienced Arabic speakers, but if you're willing to sit back and absorb, it will prove a very rewarding experience.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Marli,

Thank you so much for posting your experience at the Center. It was very nice having you for two weeks at the Center. We wish you all success in learning Arabic and we hope to have you in Palestine in the near future

Greetings to you from the entire team

Default avatar
Brenda
Female
24 years old
Chicago
Wright State University

Brenda's Review

10/10

My Experience + EC Review
My name is Brenda, a 24 year old from Chicago, USA. I currently work as an administrative assistant at an Architecture firm, but graduated 3 years ago from Wright State University with a BA in International Relations with concentrations in The Middle East, Peace & Diplomacy, and Arabic. I currently pursue my passions volunteering and mentoring with Syrian refugee families and teaching basic Arabic to children in Chicago.
I decided to come to the Excellence Center because I want to improve my Arabic through the immersion experience, as well as experience a new culture. My expectations were exceeded regarding my Arabic teacher, Ibrahim. His energy and teaching style not only kept me constantly engaged the entire 40 hours I studied, but made me excited to leave class to speak with others using what I learned that day, do my homework, and be enthused to come to class the next day and do it all over again. I learned so much in the short two weeks I was there that I’ll be able to go home and apply.
My host family was incredible. They helped me experience the daily life of a Palestinian family- an invaluable experience. They were so welcoming, accommodating, and helpful. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to stay with.
Before coming to Palestine, I wasn’t sure what to realistically expect in terms of safety. I’m an optimist, so I was sure what was on the news wasn’t accurate, but doubt still lay beneath my confidence. In reality, I never once felt unsafe while here. Literally not once. Even when I got lost, people would enthusiastically and genuinely want to help me and make sure I felt safe. The hospitality of the people here is nothing I’ve ever experienced, and it has encouraged me to go back home and spread awareness as to the reality of the Middle Eastern culture and people, as we often grow up in the West with mistaken beliefs formed by media and here say. The connections I’ve made with staff and locals are ones I will cherish forever and I absolutely plan to come back to Hebron in the future.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Brenda,

Thank you for reviewing our Arabic program. We are very happy to hear that you enjoyed your stay at the Center and benefited from the EC. We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Maria
Female
Italy

Excellent Center? Excellent!

10/10

The Excellent Center is a perfect school to learn Arabic. I started studying Arabic here as a beginner and based on my experience, I can recommend this school. The teachers speak english well, they are professional and helpful to support you during your learning. You can decide to study Modern Standard Arabic, Palestinian dialect or both of them! Excellent center is not only a school: here you can study Arabic and also Palestinian culture. The school is in a new easily accesible building with Wi-Fi, located in the H1 area. Highly recommended!!!!

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Thank you so much Maria for posting a review. We hope to see you soon in Palestine

Greetings from the entire team

Default avatar
A
Male
39 years old
Italia
Other

Job & More

10/10

My experience at the Excellence Center has been really addictive.
I had the opportunity to increase my knowledge of classical Arabic and to implement those of the Palestinian dialect for professional reasons.
The working environment is ideal because it is possbile to study professionally but in the funny way at the same time through theoretical and practical activities.
The teachers speak English well and, together with Coordinator Marwa, assist the student throughout the course of the study.
The Excellence Center is located in the new Hebron area (H1 according to the Hebron Agreements) in a recent, all-equipped building with internet access.
Easily reachable, the Excellence Center is close to all main services as well as close to the main street leading directly into the old town.
Certainly, the Excellence Center can become the right place to learn Arabic or implement it alongside the local dialect and where to find teachers and friends at the same time in Palestine.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Ali,

Thank you so much for posting a review. We wish you all the best and hope to meet you in Palestine very soon

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Marie
Female
29 years old
Denmark
Other

Intensive Arabic in Hebron (3 weeks)

9/10

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study Arabic at the Excellence Center for three weeks in the summer of 2017. During my stay I was hosted by a local Palestinian family, and I had Arabic classes every morning five days a week (the intensive Arabic course)

I study Arabic at university level at home, and I was looking for a summer school where I would be able to study Modern Standard Arabic whilst also immersing myself in the dialect of the area of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. I was in particular looking for a place with a reasonable pricing, the opportunity to stay in a family (as opposed to a dorm with lots of English speakers), and the possibility of both studying Modern Standard Arabic and local dialect. My classes have consisted on a mixture of MSA and dialect with the purpose of making me able to speak Arabic as much as possible. I have been fully satisfied with the tuition, and on top of the academic level - I have had a lot of fun and gained a lot of cultural knowledge. I have appreciated being taught on my own because we have been able to target the class according to my specific needs.

The journey to Hebron was way easier than I had anticipated, and when I was out of the airport (Ben Gurion) the journey went rather smoothly. I did not know much about Palestinian culture and Hebron beforehand – and I still have lots to learn, but I thought coming to Palestine was a great opportunity to learn more about the lives of Palestinians. And I have feel very welcomed by everyone from the staff at the center to the shopkeeper.

Living with a host family is an opportunity to get a glimpse into family life in Palestine. During my stay I have felt like a familiy member, and I have participated in everything from drinking tea and coffee by the (many) neighbours, looking at dresses for weddings (in the living room), doing dishes and stuffing eggplants for lunch. Staying in a family has given me insigths and understanding about Palestinian, Arab and Muslim culture that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to achieve.

As a woman I have overall felt very safe here. I have been to other cities in the Middle East, and walking the streets of Hebron certainly feels more safe than for instance Cairo. Apart from the occasional attention when people yell “how are you” in the streets, I haven’t experienced anything remotely related to street harassment, and during my entire stay I have felt that everyone I met has been looking out for me, and done their best for me to have a good and enjoyable stay here.

All in all I am very satisfied with my stay, and I hope I will get the opportunity to come back.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Maria,

Thank you so much. We are really very happy to hear that you had a good experience in Palestine. Thank you also for sharing it with others. We wish you all the best and we hope to see you in Palestine

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine
The Excellence Center' team

Default avatar
Clare
Female
37 years old
Boston, MA
Other

2 Weeks Intensive Arabic

10/10

I took a job in Palestine and came to Excellence Center for two weeks of introduction to Palestinian Arabic. This Center is a wonderful place to get to know Hebron, introduce oneself to Palestinian Culture, meet new friends, and learn Arabic! I am grateful to my teacher Ibrahim for his hours of teaching and willingness to extend our lessons to Skype even when I moved to Ramallah. The team at Excellence Center truly cares about each of their students and will welcome you to Palestine! Yalla!

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Clare,

Thank you so much for posting a review. You were a very good Arabic student :)

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Harry
Male
20 years old
London

1 Month Intensive Course 2017

10/10

My name is Harry, I am a student from the U.K. and this is my second time visiting the Excellence Center, Hebron. When I was here last I volunteered for two weeks, this time around, I partook in the Study Arabic Intensive Course.

I am very pleased with the progress I have made whilst learning at the Excellence Center. Before my course, I could have basic conversations in Arabic and slowly read and write. After 4 weeks of studying, my teacher was conducting the lesson mostly in Arabic and I found that my speech was much more fluid (less "urrrs"). I also noticed that my ability to converse with the young kids had improved a lot (significant because understanding the kids is quite hard).

The community in and surrounding the Excellence Center is wonderful. This is important because travelling to, and staying in, Palestine can be daunting. To my relief, and I’m sure the other internationals, you will only meet friendly and like-minded people at the Center. You will become close friends with the people you live with whether that be other internationals, or a Palestinian family, and this makes the experience very enjoyable. The teachers and staff at the Excellence Center are very welcoming and will help you with any queries or issues you have. I had an issue with the first apartment I stayed at, but the members of staff here sorted it out the next day and I couldn't have asked for a better place to stay.

The Excellence Center provides all volunteers and students the opportunity to visit local sites in Hebron, and also in the West Bank. Some of these visits include a glass & ceramics factory, a Kufiya factory, Al-Ibrahimi Mosque and a camel leather shoe factory. The West Bank is very small which makes travelling to The Dead Sea or Jerusalem, for example, cheap and easy. I, during my four week stay, have visited: The Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho and the Old City of Herbon. Staying with a host family was amazing because I was able to experience these places as the locals would.

I lived with a host family and three other internationals. The internationals and I shared the floor of a house with our host brother. The rest of the family lived on the floors above us. My experience living with a host family was only positive. I am so happy with the family I stayed with as they made me feel very welcome, and like I was part of the family and local community.

My host brother took us on countless trips around Palestine, all the while showing us the best places to eat and introducing us to friends/family. Staying with a host family is very beneficial if you want to learn Arabic as well, as you can practice with them. In general, Palestinian people are extremely welcoming and generous. If you don't drink tea or coffee, you should start before you come here. It is not uncommon to randomly start talking with someone in the street and then by the end of the conversation, be invited for tea that evening and a relative's wedding the following week.

I have stayed at the Excellence Center and Hebron for a total of six weeks over two trips and not once have I felt less safe than when abroad in Europe. However, clashes are not unheard of and can be quite unnerving to see/hear. If they do happen, it’s usually on a Friday, so as long as you are sensible and vigilant there’s nothing to worry about.

Overall, I would thoroughly encourage anyone thinking about studying or volunteering in the Excellence Center, Hebron, to go for it. As soon as I left after my first stay, I knew I wanted to come back, and that is the same of many internationals at the Center. I really recommend the Intensive Arabic Course, as the combination of the fantastic teaching and constant immersion in the language, will swiftly improve your speaking, reading and writing skills. The social aspect of the trip adds to the unforgettable experience.

How can this program be improved?

(If I had to pick something) - Some internationals found it difficult to travel from Ben Gurion Airport to the Excellence Center and ended up having to pay hundreds of shekels for a private taxi. Maybe an updated or more detailed page instructing how to reach the Center using the buses.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Harry,

Thank you. We are really happy to hear that you benefited from the Arabic course at the Center and had a good time in Hebron :)

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you soon in Palestine

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Joshua
Male
19 years old
Devon, UK
University of Leeds

Great Intensive Arabic course.

9/10

As an Arabic student, most of my time was spent either in lesson, or backing up notes and memorising vocabulary outside of lesson. The excellence centre also offers weekly excursions to sites of interest, such as the refugee camp outside of Hebron, and a leather factory in the old city. Without a doubt these excursions are interesting, and really help build your understanding of the culture of Palestine, and the situation here. The centre gives you two days off a week. This coupled with the fact that transport in the West Bank is relatively affordable, means you can independently travel around the West Bank and Israel. I have visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem during my time here. The fact that you can independently travel in and around this area of the Middle East certainly adds to the experience.
Living with a host family is a wonderful experience. Mine has been kind, welcoming and generous since the moment I arrived. I have found most Palestinians, including those in my host family, to be inquisitive and talkative. Furthermore they are happy to answer any questions you may have on the current political situation in the area.
My time in Palestine has coincided with a period of unrest due to Israeli security measures at the al-Aqsa mosque. There were clashes within the city between protestors and the IDF which I witnessed. It must be said that It was of my choosing to witness this event, and it was the only time I have felt slightly unsafe in Palestine. I have noticed the tensions but only in h2 and in IDF administered areas outside of the city.
My favourite aspect of Palestine has undoubtedly been the people. From the staff at the centre, to my host family to people on the street, Palestinians are wonderful people to live and talk with.
Lessons were a good mix of fun and challenge, and the teaching is excellent. I came to the excellence centre as a complete beginner of Arabic, but I leave with a good vocabulary and ability to simple everyday conversations
I will look back on my time in Palestine fondly. I came here thinking there would be a degree of danger and tension, but I leave with a completely different opinion.
I would highly recommend the excellence centre. Not only is the teaching excellent, the rest of the staff are kind, professional and accommodating. Furthermore the price is highly competitive compared to alternatives in other areas such as Jordan, Lebanon, Cairo and Muscat.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Joshua,

Thank you very much for posting a review. We are really happy to hear that you benefited from the Arabic course at the Center and had a good time in Hebron :)

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you soon in Palestine

Greetings from the entire team

Default avatar
Marna
Female
San Francisco
Other

My Experience Studying Arabic in Palestine

9/10

Marhaba! I am a bilingual (Spanish) 5th grade teacher from San Francisco, California, USA. I came to Palestine for the first time in 2015 as the recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in teaching. During my three-month stay, I focused the bulk of my three months on an inquiry project, and unfortunately didn’t have much opportunity to study and practice Arabic. Because of my love for this country and its people, (and my strong desire to return), I decided I would try to come back, but this time to focus on Arabic language acquisition. The elementary school where I teach has seen a recent increase in refugees from Yemen, so I requested a grant to come to the Excellence Center to study, in hopes that I'd gain the skills necessary to better be able to connect with Arabic speaking families at my school.

I feel so privileged to have been able to return to Palestine and participate in a language course through the Excellence Center! As soon as I arrived, I was given a very warm welcome by staff and volunteers in Hebron. Later that day, I was taken to meet my host family in the nearby village of Beit Ummar. Immediately upon arrival, I was happily greeted by a room full of women who were in the midst of making delicious ma’ mool (traditional cookies during Ramadan), which came to be one of my favorite treats.

It has been such an incredibly rich experience living with a host-family. I am very fortunate to have such a great placement. I have learned so much more about Palestinian culture and traditions living with a family than I could have living in my own apartment. I am also very happy that I chose to arrive during Ramadan, which gave me the opportunity to enjoy Iftar (breaking of the fast) with my host-family, as well as the three days of Eid celebration. My host-family ensures that I participate in as many traditions as possible, so I have also had the chance to attend a couple of weddings, which has been so fun!!

My Arabic instructor, Shaymaa, is so knowledgeable, lively, funny, kind, and most importantly, patient. I am trying to learn a third language rather late in my life, and I know that I am not as speedy of a student as Shaymaa is used to, but she has been so flexible and understanding, making adjustments to lessons in order to ensure that I understand. There have been moments when I have felt very frustrated with myself, and that I have made little progress, but then I review my notebook and I am reminded of all that I have learned. My host-family is also very encouraging, and always makes it a priority to assist me with my homework as needed, or answer whatever questions I might have.

The Excellence Center offers a variety of outings in and around Hebron, but since this is my second time in Palestine, I instead used my free time to travel and visit friends in Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, and Ramallah.

It has been a different experience living in Area B/C, compared to Area A during my first visit. (If you are not familiar with what that means, you'll quickly learn upon arrival.) I do feel extremely safe in Palestine. I am comfortable walking around my village, traveling by public transportation (called "service"), but there is always some discomfort that comes with witnessing the strong soldier presence around the village, and throughout the West Bank, for that matter. I believe that it is extremely important for outsiders to witness the daily injustices Palestinians face living under occupation. I feel that it is my responsibility to share what I’ve witnessed and the countless stories I’ve heard with as many people as possible in my own country, so that we can all fight to end this oppressive system.

Despite the unjust and difficult conditions under which Palestinians live, as a “people” they are so very welcoming and generous; we all have so much to learn from their strength and resiliency.

I am very sad to have to say goodbye to everyone who I’ve met during my stay. It has been such a privilege and honor to be here. I thank Marwa, Rafat, & everyone at the Excellence Center, especially my beautiful teacher, Shaymaa! I also feel deeply indebted to Abu Youssef, Fatin, Shoruq, Sultan, Bayan, Anas, Ameer, Youssef and the entire extended family in Beit Ummar for their magnificent hospitality. They all have a very special place in my heart.

Shukran ktiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir!!!!!

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Marna,

Thank you so much for writing a review. We wish you all the best in learning Arabic language and we hope to have you soon at the Excellence Center in Hebron

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine

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Lexi
Female
Los Angeles
Other

Excellent Excellence Center

10/10

One of the best programs I have ever attended. The teachers are above average educated, professional and accommodating. The lessons are fun and the center's efforts go way beyond teaching language. The entire Excellence center staff went out of their way to answer questions about local culture and politics, organized educational field trips and even included me in off-hours Ramadan events and family dinners. Frankly the center could easily charge three times as much for their language program.

I will return many times.

How can this program be improved?

I wouldn't mind if another branch of the center would open in Bethlehem, which is only 10 minutes away, only because I'm considering bringing my staff out to participate in the program and a religiously diverse town tends to be somewhat easier on westerners during longer stays than an exclusively conservative Muslim community.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Lexi,

It was a great pleasure to have you at the Excellence Center Lexi. Everybody enjoyed your stay

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you soon in Palestine

Greetings from the Excellence Center team

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Lucas
Male
24 years old
USA
Other

Intensive Arabic in Hebron

9/10

I studied Palestinian Arabic in Hebron with the Excellence Center for four weeks in the spring of 2017. It was a really great experience and I learned a lot. The teaching is really fantastic and having a private tutor is invaluable. The lessons are interactive and can be customized to your desire. The staff are all friendly and accommodating, always willing to answer any questions you may have about the Center, Hebron, or Palestine as a whole. Hebron is a very interesting city and the people are kind and open to discussing many topics. I would encourage people who are interested in learning Arabic, especially colloquial, as it represents a great chance to speak and listen to Arabic as it is truly spoken! I highly recommend the Excellence Center to those who are interested.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Lucas,

Thank you so much for writing a review. We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and e hope to have you again in Hebron

Greetings from the Excellence Center's team

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Jakob
Male
27 years old
Hebron
Other

Intensive Arabic in Hebron

8/10

After having finished my 8-week intensive Arabic class at the Excellence Centre I can now conclude that the decision to come to Palestine and Hebron to finally learn Arabic was a good one. Not only did it pay off fantastically in terms of acquiring a new language, but in terms of gaining unique experiences together with lovely people.

I came to Palestine with a long-held wish to learn Arabic, but with only very basic knowledge of the language. Notwithstanding some vocabulary and knowledge of the alphabet, I was not able to construct even the simplest sentence.

However, within a few days of one-on-one class – of which I had three hours each day – I had already acquired a glossary enabling me to express myself in simple conversations. The structure of the lessons, with full attention to the individual progress of the student, is definitely a demanding one as it forces you to stay focused 100% of the time (no kicking back at the back of the class – your teacher will surely notice). The positive side of this is of course that you are forced to practice what you have been thought, immediately and constantly.

While – I have to confess – I did struggle for quite a while with those verb conjugations, I very soon noticed the pay-off of the hard work in the classroom. Indeed, for each week that passed, the daily spontaneous conversations with falafel vendors and kids on the street became more rewarding. Having never regarded myself as particularly good at languages, I can now, after 8 weeks of intensive Arabic class, not only make myself understood in most everyday interactions, but – given a dose of patience on the receiving part – can actually express abstract opinions on e.g. news and political events in Arabic.

Even if my studies took up a lot of my time, I am happy to say that my experiences outside of the classroom have been just as positive. The atmosphere at the Centre is familial and there is always someone there – be it a teacher, volunteer, current or previous student – ready to pour you the next cup of Arabic coffee and chit-chat about the peculiarities of Palestinian weddings. The staff is always ready to help out with practicalities and once in a while they arrange trips to different sights in and around Hebron.

It is a fantastic experience just to have lived for a short while in Hebron. It has a beautiful ancient city centre where you can wander around and admire the many hundred years old houses stacked on top of each other, while buying delicious fresh vegetables from the surrounding countryside or admiring the traditional and locally made ceramics, glass and embroideries. And be sure, wherever you walk in the city, you will encounter the hospitality of the Palestinians – often meaning a coffee and a friendly conversation in Arabic, if not an invitation to a family dinner or wedding.

Hebron, however, is an intense and, indeed, a conservative city; add to that the Israeli settlements and partial military control. It all makes for an incredibly interesting experience, of the Middle East in general, and the Palestinian situation in particular. I was nonetheless glad to be able to hop on a service to Bethlehem or Jerusalem a few times to just relax and do some sightseeing.

For someone coming the Middle East for the first time, Hebron will be an intensive crash-course in itself. But with the help of the staff at the centre and the always welcoming locals, you will soon feel at home. Indeed, you will probably feel a bit Palestinian when you leave. Just one advise though: bring warm knickers – while I got used to basically everything in Hebron very quickly, I never really accustomed myself to the cold of the early spring months. With a pair of warm socks and a wool sweater, however, you can manage most things.

Keeping that in mind; if you quickly want to learn Arabic and if you want get to know Palestine better, the coming to the Excellence Centre in Hebron will not let you down.

How can this program be improved?

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Andreas
Male
38 years old
Hebron
Other

Language learning TIPH

9/10

Hello good fellows, my name is Andreas and I’m from Norway. I came to Hebron sent by the Norwegian government to work as an international observer in the organization TIPH. A huge part of my work includes interacting and talking to the Palestinian residents of Hebron and the working language out in the field is Arabic. It is of utmost importance to have an understanding of the Arabic language and especially the Palestinian dialect, and by this the Exellence Center and my fantastic private teacher Shayma has provided me with the substance needed.

I have been studying Arabic before I came to Hebron, in classes compiling of several students and by self –studies over a period of a couple of years, but for the first time I have enjoyed the privilege of having a private teacher in the Exellence Center. Together with Shayma we have drafted and put into action a progression plan that has helped me advance to a higher level of mastering the language.

As an observer in TIPH (www.tiph.org) we report on breaches on international laws and regulations, and the Exellence Center with its cooperation with TIPH has been of an immense importance to increase the language level of the Arabic speaking observers, including myself.

My sincere call and recommendation to everybody thinking about studying Arabic in Palestine. The Exellence Center in Hebron is excellent. When I unfortunately in the near future have completed my mission, I will bring with me the great experiences, the acquired heightened level of my Arabic skills, and the great memories of the daily breakfasts and the fantastic feast I enjoyed on the rooftop of the center together with my invited family and all the teachers and students that lovely day in April 2017.

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Jana Evi
Female
19 years old
Germany
Other

Volunteer at Excellence Center Hebron

10/10

My name is Jana Lindner and I'm a volunteer from Germany.
This was my first time to Hebron and the West Bank in general, where I have been doing the teaching program with Excellence Center for the past 2 weeks and it has truly been one of the best experiences I've had so far.
I have had teaching experience before as I've been volunteering with another NGO in Tanzania in 2016 but volunteering here in Palestine was something completely different, challenging in another way.
In my time volunteering here I was helping local teachers with their English classes, as well as planning different English lessons suited to the individualities of the pupils, which also was the most challenging part, working with a lot of students with completely different English levels.
During my stay I also had 6h of Arabic lessons with my great teacher Ahlam. As for the Center's Palestinian teachers, they were very enthusiastic and willing to teach us as much as possible. I am a university student studying Middle Eastern studies and political sciences as well as Arabic, so it was an amazing opportunity for me not only to learn an Arabic dialect but also to practice my spoken Arabic with my host family.
Therefore I can only recommend this to everyone that is learning Arabic or wants to learn Arabic.
One of the best parts about the whole experience definitely was the love and respect as well as the courteousness and generousness that people in Palestine as well as my host family would constantly express. Locals would always be so excited to see us and they would always want us to eat or have coffee and tea with them. I've been having a lot of very warm and friendly conversations with people from many different backgrounds . Having travelled to a lot of other Arab countries before, I think my visit to Palestine is going to be the one with the best memories at pretty much every turn. I have never experienced a country with such a great hospitality like Palestine.
The country also has various different landscapes and it is very easy to visit other cities around the West Bank or even in Israel.
I have been doing trips to Ramallah, Jericho, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, all of them very different and very beautiful. Yet, nothing can compete with Hebron. It definitely is my favorite place to be in Palestine.
The staff from Excellence Center is more than willing to provide you with any information.
All in all, the Center is more than dedicated to its work and providing local communities with help for English classes as well as caring about their students and the well being of their volunteers. So if you're thinking about volunteering in Hebron, the Excellence Center is the place to be.
I'm leaving with a lot of great memories and I'll definitely be back to Hebron sometime soon, staying for a longer time, as 2 weeks were definitely not enough.

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Mohammad
Male
32 years old
London, United Kingdom

1-2-1 Arabic at the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine

10/10

My name is Amir, I am an IT consultant from London, England. Having visited the a number of Arabic speaking countries I chose to learn Arabic in Palestine due to my experience with the people when I visited in Ramadan 2016.

I was very pleased with my choice and it totally surpassed my expectations; both from the perspective of learning Arabic but also the amount of activities the centre takes you to.

I couldn't have asked for a better teacher than Dua. The standard of teaching was of high quality and I don't think I would have learnt as much as I did if I wasn't pushed like I was. Dua is definitely good at what she does and is able to recognise when I am having a bad day or my brain is a little frazzled and therefore mixes up the structure of the class. It is impressive considering she has no formal qualification or training in teaching. I think the 1-2-1 sessions really make a difference and I've learnt a lot in a month. I hope I can continue to progress at the same pace when I'm back in London. I plan to come back but I guess I'll have to think twice if Dua isn't here.

In terms of activities, I was fortunate enough to visit Abraham's Oak, Abraham's Mosque, a sandal factory, a kufiya factory, a glass and ceramic factory to name a few.

From the perspective of a male, we lived together in an apartment which was basic but sufficient. We attended breakfast together at the centre as well as a number of dinners. Generally we had lunch outside and cooked dinner together in the evenings. Initially I felt a little lost in terms of cooking and wished I had bought more food with me but once I was familiar with the local shops, supermarkets etc. it wasn't a problem anymore. We even managed to make pizza Hebron style using the local bread and without an oven.

Palestine is definitely a safe place to visit. It is so easy to make friends here which meant that we could spend our time in the evenings with the locals. The hospitality at both the centre and Hebron in general is totally unreal. Everyone is so friendly, welcoming and ready to help, this isn't something you see anywhere else in the world and the best thing about it is that it is genuine and there are no hidden agendas. I can't tell you the number of times someone has stopped me to say hello, ask me where I am from or offer me some coffee. I was invited round to play table tennis at someone's house and on another occasion invited to play 5 a side football at a local pitch.

On one occasion when I visited the local coffee shop I accidentally dropped 90 shekels on the floor. The locals that were with me handed it over to the owner and once we got out they asked everyone if anyone had lost any money. I checked my pocket and realised that I did, we returned to the shop and the owner went through the CCTV and happily handed over the money. I couldn't see that happen in England.

Regarding the centre, the staff really do make a conscious effort to look out for your well-being and on one of the days we decided to go hiking to Wadi Mukalak and the centre happily organised the transportation for us.

I would more than recommend anyone that would either like to volunteer or learn Arabic to seriously consider the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Salam Brother Mohammed,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We are glad that you enjoyed learning Arabic at the Excellence Center. All the best to you in learning Arabic

We hope to see you in the future at the Excellence Center
With kind regards,

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Paul
Male
25 years old
Paris

My experience in Excellence centre

8/10

I knew Hebron before I came. I lived there for a few months before and was enjoying meeting people. Unfortunately, my Arabic, that I started learning really late in university couldn’t allow me to engage further more with the friends I made here. Therefore I decided to take classes in Excellence Centre. The result is fantastic!

Benefiting from one-to-one classes, I could learn a lot. My teacher is amazingly hardworking. She always adapts to any of my demands. I was trying to acquire knowledge that would be useful in my daily life as much as in a professional context and she was always planning classes according to my objectives. From literal Arabic to dialect, we went through texts, dialogues, and videos or any media that could improve my overall skills. Moreover, the centre was a place where I could receive help in any situation. I also enjoyed sharing lunch with all the teachers and volunteers.

Excellence Centre is more than a centre it’s a big family honouring the traditional hospitality of the city of Abraham.

Paul Elek

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Tarik
Male
55 years old
Puerto de la Cruz

great experience

10/10

Learn success has a lot to do with what you make it, so as the son of an jordanian father, raised by a german mother in Germany, I will never be satisfied by my arabic skills, compared to those of my jordanian siblings. However, having had access to the language before, and not beeing a youngster anymore, it was all up to me, and my excellent teacher was ready to try any approach I would choose. The human factor in Palestine of course plays into their cards within the school or outside, so the staff is lovely, but, of course, there are conflicts. People from all over the world come together and not only the women participants wonder why they have to be back home with their families at early hours while the guys come and go as they please. And they would not only ask why the girls are not invited to the traditional meals in Ramadan, they would demand it. Not an easy job for the staff to explain the extraordinary conservative environment in Hebron, on which, probably, the schools mere existence depends. I would encourage them to try hard and make the decisions as transparent as they can and not just blame far away boss Rafa. So there are long faces, and there are frustrated ambitions, but it is all a necessary part of the process. My experience was all great and I definitely want to and will repeat it. The whole region is one of the most fascinating of the world. It is not only al Quds, I travelled all of Palestine and crossed over to Israel and Jordan for a surprise visit to my family at the end of Ramadan. All of this provides a lot of mixed feelings and crossing borders is definitely a very special experience! In Hebron I was sharing a rather downbeat flat with students from all over the world, and we became a part of the neighbourhood in no time, being invited to meals, singing, dancing, political meetings and much more. (They immediately stopped using our yard as a waste dump and I am pretty confident Rafa will shell out some real beds next time.) To sum it up, it definitely was an unforgettable experience and I would encourage anyone to try it.

How can this program be improved?

As the school becomes bigger they were already in the process of expanding in summer 2016.

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Zo
Female
22 years old
Oxford

:)

9/10

What I expected when I came to Hebron was a week of Arabic lessons, a place to sleep, and a few excursions. What I got when I came to Hebron was a second family. Not only was my host family quick to adopt me - by my second day, they were calling me their new daughter - but the Excellence Center itself, staff, students and volunteers, felt like a big, chaotic, warm family. Everyone eats breakfast together in the morning, works or talks or drinks sweet tea and bitter coffee in the kitchen between duties, and cooks a communal dinner together on Thursdays. The students and volunteers come from all over the world - during my time here, I met people from Australia, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the USA, and Mexico - and all of them have interesting stories. Equally, all of the Palestinians I met were incredibly welcoming, and happy to be able to show visitors their country.

I have studied Arabic for three years, including a year living and studying in Amman, Jordan, so this wasn’t my first experience in the Middle East. From my previous experience, I can say that the teaching at the Excellence Center is of a high standard. With my teacher Afnan, I studied both Palestinian colloquial and Modern Standard Arabic. We looked at a wide range of material and topics, from rap songs to poems to newspaper articles, jokes and comic folktales to documentaries. I really appreciated her calm and patient approach, as well as her ability to be flexible and adapt to what I wanted.

Outside of lessons, I got to see much more of Palestine. In Hebron, we visited the Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque, as well as excursions to see local industry, such as glass-blowing, pottery, and leather workshops and the factory which makes the Palestinian keffiyeh. Outside of Hebron, I went with the center to visit Ramallah and Jericho: we visited sites including the Mar Saba monastery and the new Yasser Arafat museum in Ramallah.

Additionally, I really benefited from the time I spent with my host family - being able to immerse myself entirely in spoken Arabic in a home environment was challenging but has proven really rewarding. It wouldn’t have been possible without their amazing hospitality. Practising my Arabic with the staff and teachers at the center outside of lessons was a great opportunity as well. I also appreciated getting to know the other volunteers, and the experience of being among only a few native English speakers in a place where English is the lingua franca has been eye-opening.

Finally, I have one piece of advice for anyone planning to come to the Excellence Center, whether to study or to volunteer: you really do get out what you put in. It might seem exhausting (I know it has been for me!), but if you try your best to participate, help out, and talk to people whenever possible, you will find you learn as much outside your lessons as you do in them, not to mention the real friendships you will create. I wish I could have spent longer than a week in Hebron, and I’m definitely hoping to come back in the future - inshallah! (“If God wills,” a phrase anyone studying Arabic will learn to use often...)

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Laura
Female
28 years old
Melbourne
Flinders University

My time in Hebron-Intensive Arabic program

9/10

My name is Laura, I am from Melbourne, Australia. I have a Bachelors Degree in International Studies. During my time in Hebron, I completed a one-month intensive Arabic course at The Excellence Centre. The intensive Arabic course helped me to improve my Arabic, by working one on one with my teacher. My teacher was highly skilled, professional, and provided a supportive and flexible approach to learning.

During my time at The Excellence Centre, I also participated in a number of excursions provided by the centre, including day trips to Bethlehem and Battir. The excursions were a great opportunity to explore Palestine, meet local people and learn more about Palestinian history. I was also able to visit a ceramic and glass factory and the old city.

The staff members at The Excellence Centre were welcoming, helpful and make a consistent effort to ensure I was happy and comfortable during my time there.

During my time in Palestine, I stayed with a local family, who were supportive and friendly during my stay. They were happy to introduce me to their friends and family, and I was even able to attend a Palestinian wedding.

The most enjoyable experience was a visit with my teacher to the Hebron Governate to meet with government officials. During this visit the officials discussed current government initiatives and programs such as women’s programs, youth programs and financial aid programs.

The most challenging aspect to my stay was the weather, visiting between November and February saw very cold weather, and it is important to be prepared for buildings with low insulation. A good quality sleeping bag or a hot water bottle is recommended for visiting in the colder months.

How can this program be improved?

A quiet study area would benefit intensive students,

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Franz
Male
51 years old
Passau

Studiing Arabic with Saymaa at the Excellence Center in Hebron

10/10

This is my first longer visit to Palestine. I am a 52 year old teacher from Passau, Germany and studied catholic theology from 1985 until 1991 and in these years I learned some basic Arabic for reading the Quran and to compare with Our Christian Bible. As a master of theology I teached the Old Hebrew language of the bible for some years at the University of Passau and at the Catholic University of Linz, Austria. Because of the many contacts with refugees during and after the refugee crisis I have many friends now from Syria and Iraq which speak Arabic and now learn German. For improving my contacts I now learn Arabic and did so for 2 weeks at the Excellence Center here in Al Chalil Hebron.

I learned at the Excellence Center in Hebron Arabic and travelled with the staff to many locations in Palestine to meet Palestinian people and discover the interesting country. Starting with Jerusalem on my way from the airport to Hebron by Bus and Taxi everyone was nice and gave me a friendly welcome. I remember Betlehem at most, because I am a Christian and teacher of Christian children in Austria. But also the national ecological garden in Battir was a very good experience when walking around and see the nice locations around the roman bath there and on the hills. Even the town of Hebron with the Ibrahimi mosque and the Suq was a very interesting visit. In Betlehem even the wall and the political background was of interest as was the refugee camp nearby called xxx. We will visit on my last day Jericho and Ramallah and I am looking forward to this warm and healthy places now in winter with 22 degree!

My Arabic lessons were an extraordinary experience, because my teacher Sazmaa forced me to immerse into the Arabic language as I hoped to when booking this course. I asked her to study Fuscha, the traditional high level language of the books, and she engaged totally during every lesson within my 10 days of study to lift my level from reading holy texts to also be able to speak and to talk about the experiences. I never had such an inspiring course even in University and she used modern teaching methods which made learning an adventure and activated all senses to learn Arabic. I am really grateful about this. I will try to write some Arabic at the end to show the effords I made with my teacher.
The hospitality of the people at the ME is really great and the mixture of students of Arabic and International volonteers helping Palestinian students to learn English by the help of native speakers was inspiring me even to learn some better English like I did before. Everyone is highly engaged in developing the education of the local people and the students and volonteers .
During my stay at the Excellence Center here in Al Chalil Hebron I lived with two other male students in an apartment with kitchen and 2 rooms where I as the oldest one could use one for me alone. The rooms are basic but comfortable and the cooperation in kitchen and when learning makes fun.
Safety had been guaranteed all the time at any area in Hebron. Even when walking around alone it was fun to be in contact very fast and feel a warm welcome everywhere. There was no security problem when I was visiting the mosque or Shahada street alone or when I went to the local barber. Everyone wanted to talk about Germany and the differences of my Christian faith and the Islam and the welcome of refugees in Germany which the Palestinian people appreciate and honor very much. I felt that it is a question of hospitality for any inhabitant in Hebron that I as the guest felt comfortable and of course secure at any time. Also when visiting alone Shahada street, the mosque or the suq I felt secure.. The hospitality when offering us local meals like maqluba or local Palestinian breakfast impressed me most, but also the historical places and the holy churches and mosques were amazing. Nature is nice even in winter.
When I arrived at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem early in the morning at 4 a.m. a nice guy started me speaking Arabic in front of bus 231 from al Quds to Betlehem, and the Arabic adventure begun in the first minutes. The first words I repeated and learned with him were the starting point of the studies here and this continued every day. The people here are kind and polite and I felt welcome all the time.
The tolerance between all the staff, the teachers, the volonteers and the students of the Arabic language was overwhelming (even jewish students could learn Arabic here during my stay).
I highly recommend the ME for studiing Arabic or volunteering and think about further chances to come to Hebron to continue my learning Arabic here. For older persons like me it might be of interest, that local hotels with a high standard of service might attract people which need a higher comfort.
انا درست اللغة العربية في المركز اكسلنس فالخليل من 27.12.2016-7.1.2017. انا احب هذا المدينة وكل الناس به. اليوم نحن درسنا كل العدد من 20 الى 20000. هذا كثير لي.
انا اريد ان ادروس لاستطيع لاقرا هذا اللغه الجميلة قي الكتب العربية

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Elissa
Female
21 years old
St Andrews, UK
University of St Andrews

ِِA Month to Remember in Hebron

9/10

My name is Elissa and I am from the US. I am a university student, and I study International Relations and Arabic. I was at the Excellence Center for one month taking Arabic language classes.

The Arabic lessons at the Excellence Center are incredible. I have taken Arabic as part of my degree at university for two and a half years and I have also studied abroad in Oman, but I have never learned so much so quickly as I have at the Excellence Center. All of the Arabic classes I have taken in the past have been Modern Standard Arabic, but I decided that during my time in Hebron I wanted an introduction to the Palestinian dialect as well. I was able to arrange this with my teacher and create a customised programme which allowed me to study exactly what I wanted. My first week, I didn't understand anything when my teacher or host family would speak to me in dialect. Now, almost three weeks later, I am able to understand much more than I was at the beginning. I am very pleased with the amount of progress I have made at the Excellence Center.

The environment at the Center has really added to my experience here. I have never been in a learning environment that felt so much like a family. Every week, everyone at the Center stays late and cooks and eats dinner together, followed by coffee, shisha, and long conversations. I am very comfortable asking any member of staff any question I have or about anything I need. They are very knowledgeable about the city and about travelling around Palestine, and everyone goes out of their way to make sure you are comfortable.

While I was in Palestine, the Center also arranged trips to Bethlehem and Jericho. We visited the dead sea and had a barbecue together, and on the way saw monasteries, historic sites, and lots of camels! We will go on another trip to Ramallah before I leave, and I am looking forward to it very much as I know I will be in good company.

On my own and with friends I made at the Center, I also took trips to Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Nablus. Travelling in Palestine has been very easy, and all of the people are very willing to help, even if they speak limited English. I was able to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and Christmas Day in Jerusalem, which was an incredible opportunity. I also spent New Years with a Palestinian family who invited me to stay in Nablus with them. Every city is different, and I have loved experiencing each of them.

One of the main reasons I chose the Excellence Center was because of the opportunity to live with a host family. My host family became like my own family while I was in Hebron, and I was treated like one of their own daughters. It made me feel very safe to know that I had a family looking out for me, and they taught me how to safely get to and from the Center. Although I was warned about safety issues before coming, I have never felt unsafe during my time in Palestine. I feel more safe in Palestine than I do in large cities in the US and Europe.

My favourite thing about Palestine has been the people. Palestine is beautiful, but it is the people here that make it so special. Everyone I have met has welcomed me with incredible generosity and hospitality. I feel like I have many people who care about me and my safety, and who are looking out for me. When you are in a new place, there is nothing better than being welcomed so warmly and being told that while you are here, you are home and this is your family.

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Justin
Male
35 years old
Shreveport, Louisiana

Hey Hebron! Yay Palestine!

10/10

My name is Justin, and I am from the United States. I come from a city of about 200,000 near Texas, and my university degree is in Teaching English as a Second Language.
I began studying Arabic at the Excellence Center to improve my grasp of the language that I had not yet learned despite having already lived in an Arabic speaking country for the last 2 years. As I arrived to the personal warmth and welcoming atmosphere of the language school, it helped me deal with the chilly weather of winter in Hebron. The lack of central heating on an early morning at most buildings including the school is overshadowed by the heat in the kitchen coming from the tea kettle or the portable heater. Most volunteers and students crowd around these two spots to happily begin the day. Once classes begin, and I am comfortable with my glass of delicious sage tea, my teacher turns on the electric wall heater to begin the lesson. Arabic classes are personable with small sizes. Lucky for me, winter is usually low season for tourists learning a foreign language away from home, and I was able to get a one-to-one class with a teacher who had a degree in English. Lessons were low-anxiety and included communicative activities that specified task-based activities. These activities included role-plays between shop owners and customers, asking directions, writing stories, and even help with the local Palestinian dialect of Arabic. These lessons have made it much easier to live in the city and speak to the people. Because the Palestinians of Hebron are so welcoming and curious, it is easy to practice what you learn in class with the locals.
It seems to take a special kind of caring person to come work or study in Palestine in spite of all the rumors one might hear about how it is here. I have seen this special kind of caring in the actions of the volunteers coming to work at the Excellence Center from all different ages and countries. Working with them has been a very international story of travels and adventure.
During my time at the Excellence Center, there were always excursions to places in the city of Hebron and throughout the West Bank. We went to see Ibrahim's Mosque, one of the most well-known sights in the Holy Land and lies in the Old City of Hebron. From there, we went to Shuhada Street (Martyr Street) which used to be a bustling market place before the year 2000. On a Friday morning, a group of us with some of the staff from the Excellence Center took a trip to Jericho and the dead Sea. On the way, we stopped by Mar Saba Monastery of the Greek Orthodox Church near the beautiful Kidron Valley. After taking some amazing photos, we were on our way to the the Dead Sea, but suddenly our vehicle passed a herd of camels and their caretaker. We could not help ourselves but to ask our coworker to pull the car over for a few pictures. We ended up hanging out with the camels for 15 minutes as we spoke to the caretaker. It was amazing, and we had not even reached the Dead Sea yet. Upon our farewell from the lovely hump-backed animals, we drove another 5 minutes to our destination by the beach. Suddenly there was a view of a vast waveless body of water that stretched from Palestine across to the Kingdom of Jordan. It was the Dead Sea and we were ready to test the rumor that you float in the water. Well, the rumor was true, and we also learned not to put our heads under the water because it is so salty that it can burn your eyes for a while. I also learned about how very salty water keeps clothes wet. My blue jeans stayed wet for 5 days after the trip before I finally washed them. The trip to the Dead Sea was capped off by some amazing barbecuing by our Palestinian coworkers. Palestinians sure know how to cook, and the kebabs were plentiful. It was one of the most interesting excursions I had ever taken, and you should definitely plan to do it when you come to volunteer or study at the Excellence Center.
Traveling around the city alone can lead to interesting places, but I would not recommend walking alone in the Old Town alone after the sun goes down. The narrow corridors of ancient streets make for darkness and spooky experiences, so make sure you are with a group.
No tale would be holistic without mentioning the people and more about the food. My overall impression of people here has been positive. People will go as far as to invite you for a tea in their home. As a man, this has been a good experience to know a bit more deeply about the Palestinian families. I would not, however, recommend doing this if you are a female volunteer being asked by a man to come to his home. This is not a norm here in Hebron, and every Palestinian man knows it. The restaurants are mostly quaint and give a homely feeling. Choices of cuisine include delicious friend chicken, excellent shawarma, falafel, and popular Palestinian rice dishes called maklouba and mansef.
If you decide to make the trip to Hebron and volunteer or learn with the Excellence Center, I believe you are making the right choice. The food, the people, and the culture make it all worth your time.

How can this program be improved?

The staff is very experienced with foreigners and speak English very well. I would like more cooking classes at the Excellence Center.

Default avatar
Stephanie
Female
27 years old
AARHUS

JUST AN OTHER VISITOR

9/10

A week ago I arrived in Al Khalil. A Dutch girl living in Denmark, teaching young refugee children from Syria and there for trying to learn some Arabic. Arriving with no knowledge of the Arabic language and the Palestine culture.. now leaving with warm feelings towards the people in Hebron and being able to understand and participate in simple conversations.

Besides from interesting, useful, motivating and inspiring Arabic language lessons, the people from the Excellence center showed me a warm, loving, safe, historical culture and city. Unfortunately a week's visit was too short and I will have to come back some day to meet my friends again.

No where before have I only met a generous and warm staff, caring and loving for all volunteers, students and teachers. If you would ask me what I enjoyed most during my stay in Hebron, I would not be able to answer. Ibrahimi mosque, the old city, Masqubije, Bethlehem. Not even to mention my stay with the loving host family, who introduced me to their everyday lives, to their families and friends, to their children, to their city and to their culture.

I will miss my host family, I will miss the kind staff at the Excellence center, I will miss the joy of learning new Arabic words and sentences.. but most of all, I will miss the delicious foods like humus and the best falafel in the world.

Not only will I recommend any body to travel here and stay for a longer period of time, I will also look forward to visiting Al Khalil again myself.

Default avatar
Ariel
Female
24 years old
San Francisco

Finding Family in Khalil, Palestine

10/10

If one word describes my experience here it is “warmth”. I came to Hebron in the depths of winter (note to winter travelers: bring layers!) but warmth permeated every moment of my stay. I spent hours in the Excellence Center kitchen huddled around the fire, drinking sweet and warm Palestinian tea while exchanging sweet and warm words. My eagerness to learn the language and soak in the culture was received with an enthusiasm level that matched my own. Open arms, minds, and hearts opened doors for indelible friendships. I think I heard and used the word “habeepty!” (“my sweetie!”) as much as every other word combined, but it was never unmerited. Marwa taught me to wrap hijab. Shayma took me to a Palestinian glass factory. Abu-Mohamed showed off the Hebrew words he knows while he drove me on a tour through the city. My Arabic teacher Haifa taught me a traditional Islamic wedding dance and I showed her the Hora while we dreamed up plans for each of our someday-weddings.

And each of my new besties / habeepties are powerful and inspiring and brilliant. My teacher Haifa was my older-and-wiser role model until I learned her age. So now she is my younger-but-wiser role model. Her patience, energy, and Arab coffee fueled me through seven days of (brilliantly executed) 3-hour classes. The Center’s coordinator Marwa went above and beyond with around-the-clock assurance and support that made me feel welcome, safe, and loved. I am so grateful for these seven days, short but so full, of linguistic exchange and cultural give-and-take. Thank you for having me.

- Ariel Koren beginner Arabic course 12/21-12/29

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Talha
Male
30 years old
TORONTO

LEARNING ARABIC IN PALESTINE

10/10

Talha, 29 came from Canada to learn classical Arabic (MSA) for a month with the EC in order to understand the Koran.

At Tel Aviv I was stopped by security for three hours and interrogated… three hours of stupid questions about my job in Canada, why I came here, if I knew anybody here, how long I’m staying here… It might be a lot harder to answer the questions the next time around now I know so many people here.

After the airport security issues, getting to Hebron was pretty easy. From the airport I got a bus to Jerusalem, where I spent two nights. The bus from Jerusalem dropped me on the Jewish side of Hebron (Khalil) and from there I got a cab to the Centre. My taxi driver also knew where the Centre was on Ein Sara Street, which was really useful since the street is pretty long.

After I arrived at the Centre, I got an orientation presentation which was good, telling me about safety in Israel, things I need to be aware of, some practical advice, and information about local customs.

Since I’m a guy, I don’t have a host family, so after presentation I was shown by Rafat, Centre manager to the EC dormitories. The dorms are about 10 minutes easy walk from the Centre, or 2.5 shekel 2 minute cab ride. Typically in the evenings I eat outside the dorms since food is so cheap if you just want like a falafal sandwich or shawarma. Sometimes though, I go to nicer restaurants, or I’m invited to a home cooked meal with someone from the Centre.

Palestinians are very warm welcoming people and it’s a very closed society, you know, it’s under occupation. They typically don’t get a chance to travel outside of Palestine, so people are really eager to share their experiences and ask about my life in Canada. I’m often told this is the first time that a person is meeting a Pakistani. Our passport says not valid for Israel on it, so that’s not surprising. But people also really open up here, about their lives. They tell you everything you know… the amount of times I’ve heard people say they’d love to own a car but they can’t afford it since cars are so heavily taxed by the Israelis.

One of my neighbours asked me round for coffee, and told his friends I was coming. Before I’d been sitting in his lounge for five minutes, his brother turns up to talk to me, and then some of his neighbours - just like that - that would never happen in Canada. People can really talk here… I guess partly because they don’t have a lot of outside activities to do, they often just sit in the lounge, talk and smoke, and relax.

Times like that were a good opportunity to use Arabic a bit. Fusha, which I’m learning, is also 70% similar to regional dialect (the pronunciation is different, and a few words) so if you have a grasp of Fusha, the transition to spoken dialect is quite easy.

When I started studying with the Centre, I was at Beginner one level and I studied one month for 15 hours per week. At the beginning, I knew how to read - not very well but - moderate level because I’m Muslim.

I felt from the lessons that I could quite quickly begin to start to break down lines from the Koran and understand it. Even after just two weeks I had enough vocabulary to start recognising a few words, here and there.

The lessons were good and pretty varied. We translated small suraah from the Koran, and one lesson we listened to the national anthem, mawtani (my homeland), and translated it.

Another cool thing about my experience here was meeting a lot of foreigners at the Centre. Like I’d never properly met a British person before, but I met a British girl here, as well as people from Denmark, and Norway, and everywhere. It’s rare to have the chance to meet people from all over the world like that.

We did a lot of trips together, both with the Centre and in our own time. The staff here took us to Battir one Friday, which was a very nice hike close to Bethlehem. The landscape is really striking - all arid and rocky - very different to Canada.

After Battir we went to Soussia, which was a rural Bedouin village. Soussia is under threat from occupation and settler expansion. They don’t have access to electricity because they’re forbidden to construct anything, and their wells are often demolished. Also the caves they’d been living in were filled in by the Israeli Government, so they’re living in erected tents. It’s sad, but really important to see how people are living in the face of the occupation.

My favourite trip was without doubt Jerusalem. Being in Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock was a really special feeling as a Muslim. It’s the third holiest site in Islam, so I felt very happy and very privileged to be able to be there and pray there. Jerusalem is a very beautiful place; there’s a lot of history here.

After Friday prayer at the mosque, I went into the Arab quarter, which is so lively with people buying and selling you get totally lost in the crowd. And at the same time as you see people selling like galaxy phones, you feel so much history every it’s like a museum. The ancient walls and cobblestone road, and so many old buildings. Every army that came here has left something behind; the Crusaders, Muslims, Jews, it’s an incredible place.

What’s also amazing is that when you’re in the old city in Jerusalem, you see all of the Abrahamic faiths. The Wall of the Al-Aqsa mosque is also the Western Wall, so when you’re the mosque you can see the Wall like fifty metres away. I felt like all of these religions with a special connection to this place are so close together; we come from the same source. But at the same time, we don’t talk to each other. The Jews and Arabs, but we don’t talk. Christians talk to me more, but politics poisons all of that.

There are so many things to see here in Palestine, and everything is so close by. Twenty minutes from the Centre, and you’re in Bethlehem, forty five, and you’re in Jerusalem. And there’s really local things to do as well, like Battir and Masaba.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Dear Talha,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We still remember the nice time at the breakfast table discussing some issues in Palestine. We also were amazed how your Arabic skills were improved in a short time

We wish you all the best and we hope to see you soon in Palestine and at the Excellence Center

Salam Habibuna

EC Team

Erik
Male
34 years old
Stockholm, Sweden

Great place!

10/10

The Excellence Center offer great opportunities for those who want to study Arabic. Classes are on a 1-1 basis, with really good and inspiring teacher. Having said that, what really sets the Center apart is the environment. The center provides a very friendly atmosphere where there will be a lot of social activities and trips outside your normal schedule. So not only will you improve you Arabic, you will also learn a lot about the culture and political situation in Hebron and the West bank.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Dear Erik,

Thank you for reviewing the Excellence Center. We are very pleased to hear that enjoyed the Arabic classes with Ms. Duaa.

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to see you in the near future in Palestine and at the Excellence Center

Greetings to you for the entire team

About The Provider

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The Excellence Center was established in June 2011 as a youth initiative to offer educational and community services to its diverse group of internationals and Palestinians. It is located in the main heart of Hebron on Ein Sarah street which is under the supervision of

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