Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine
90% Rating
(69 Reviews)

Volunteer and Learn 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.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Rafat Shantir at [email protected]

Whatsapp:+972599479880

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

Are you interested in coming to Palestine? Would you like to live with a Palestinian host family? Would you like to volunteer with school and university students as well as community members? Do you want to learn about the Palestinian culture, situation and the Arabic language? If the answer is 'yes' to one of the above questions then Excellence Center, would like to invite you to volunteer in Hebron-Palestine.

During the last four years, the Excellence Center has hosted more than 150 international interns, students and volunteers from every corner of the world.

Time: Excellence Center welcomes the application year-round, we are flexible, we can host you whenever you have time (from 1 week to 3 months).

The Volunteer in Palestine program is designed for students and people who do not possess experience in teaching English as EFL (English as a Foreign Language). All majors and nationalities are welcome to apply for the program.

Locations
Asia » Palestine
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Language
Arabic
Housing
Apartment
Host Family
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
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, 3 hours per week of Arabic lessons, and some visits to different sites in the city of Hebron.

Questions & Answers

No. Not at all. Even West Bank Palestinians need a very good reason to go, and getting approval from the Israeli government can take months. The only way I know of for a foreigner non-NGO member to get to Gaza is by crossing the Rafah crossing from Egypt. I believe this is technically illegal though.
I have had a lot of free time. Sometimes less because you are planned in for courses as a teacher. But there is a lot of freedom in asking free time and enjoy yourself in an other city or with friends.
Hello Chrissy, No prior visa is needed for Americans, Canadians, and most Europeans to enter Israel and Palestine. You can can a visa for three months on arrival. If you would like to stay for more than three months, you have to leave the country (e.g. visit Jordan) and come back to get another visa for three months. Please write to us if you have any questions. Greetings from Palestine

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    87%
  • Support
    90%
  • Fun
    82%
  • Value
    88%
  • Safety
    91%

Program Reviews (69)

Default avatar
Giulia
Female
26 years old
Italia
Other

Volunteer Programe in Palestine - Hebron

10/10

My name is Giulia and I come from Italy. In April 2017 I completed my Master's Degree in International Relations and after few days from my graduation I decided to participate as a volunteer to the program offered by the Excellence Center in Palestine. This program consisted in teaching English to some students of the local youth; for example, I usually had lessons with children in the morning and private lessons with intermediate students in the afternoon. But I wasn't just a teacher: I was also an Arabic Student. The Excellence Center, gave me the opportunity to learn the local language and in just two weeks I was capable to write words and to have small conversations with people.

What about the Center? Well, I should say that the environment in which I volunteered was friendly and stress-free. All the people I met were so nice with me, both the volunteers and the staff of the Center, and we enjoyed a lot of time together, like having breakfast or lunch, organizing small parties etc. The students were just amazing! I felt their willingness to learn English every single lesson I had with them, and the atmosphere was always nice and friendly.

Beyond the teaching, the Excellence Center organized for me and the other volunteers some trips. We went to Ramallah, to Jericho and to the Dead Sea, but also we visited some sites in Hebron: the Kefiah and the ceramic factories, the sandals factory but also we went to Al Shuahada Street, and this was my hardest experience here in Hebron. I met a family that live there who told me about all the restrictions caused by the settlers, they explained how it is hard to live under occupation and without freedom, and to resist to all the injustices. I found their proof more than interesting, I found it important to me as a human being.

Concerning my stay in Hebron, I was hosted by a Palestinian family. I felt at home since the first day with them; they were polite, respectful, willing and so nice with me and we had a great time together. I can say the same about the Palestinian people I met! I felt to have a lot of things in common with them and their hospitality and honesty was just unbelievable. The food was really tasty, and believe me when I say that the Palestinians love to eat: you will eat a lot of traditional recipes and they will also be pleased to teach them to you! I need also to add the I never felt in danger here in Hebron, but also around Palestine. People are always kind and if they can they will always help you.

So, I just can say that staying here in Hebron for two weeks it's not enough. I fell in love with the people and with the city so I hope to come back as soon as possible and to have the opportunity of staying here longer. I recommend this experience to all the people that are interested in knowing and in understanding others culture, to people that believe in

the importance of cultural exchange, to people that know the importance of sharing(emotions, traditions, culture, capabilities etc.).

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Giulia,

Greetings to you from the entire team. Thank you so much for reviewing the Excellence Center volunteer program and for your great work at the center. We appreciate your efforts very much

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

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Mariam
Female
22 years old
UK
University of Nottingham

Internship programme in Palestine

9/10

I live in the UK and just graduated from my law degree before coming to Palestine in the summer of 2017. I took part in the Internship Program in the Excellence Center for a month. I really enjoyed my time in Palestine and was able to meet a variety of lovely people, both Palestinian and international.

Programme
My programme was split into weeks of learning Arabic, learning about the politics, and teaching English. As I had studied Modern Standard Arabic in the past and briefly studied the Syrian dialect, I had a good foundation on which to begin my classes. I had an intensive first week of learning Arabic with three hours a day. I really enjoyed my classes as my teacher used a variety of activities to improve my Arabic and keep me engaged. My confidence in speaking has increased tremendously and I am now more willing to speak to others in Arabic.

The political week of the programme was very insightful. I visited the Hebron Governorate and spoke to the Director of Public Relations. I also went to the Palestinian Society Prisoners Club, the Old City and the closed Shuhada Street. I knew briefly about the history of Palestine before I came here, but was able to see first hand the effect of the past events on the Palestinians.
The final part of my programme was teaching English. I helped out in classes, worked with small groups of students, and prepared parts of a lesson with a partner. I was also in charge of teaching an IELTS student which, although at first was a bit daunting, after researching further into the examination and understanding the students level it was actually fun.

Outside of my programme, the centre also organised other trips around Hebron. This included a trip to the ceramics factory, the kufeyah factory, Ibrahimi Mosque and Maskobiyah Church.

Host family
I stayed with a host family consisting of a mother, father and seven year old son who were very welcoming. As Palestinian families usually live nearby extended family, you usually interact with a larger group of people on a daily basis. During my first week, I was visiting the extended family regularly, but less so afterwards. It was nice that I could visit them and have a cup of tea or play with the children. There were also times in the evening when the children would play on the roof whilst the adults were talking which I thoroughly enjoyed. On the down side, it was sometimes difficult to get alone time.

Hebron
Hebron is a city with all the amenities you would expect of one. Banks, shopping centres, supermarkets, convenience stores, cafes, and restaurants are all available. The one key difference is the transport system. I travelled around by taxi. There are mini buses along the main road, but depending on how far away you live from a main road it may be better to take a taxi and the taxi prices are clear and known by everyone. As I live quite a distance away from the main road, in the afternoons I would take a taxi back as it was mostly uphill and too hot to walk.

There are cash machines throughout the city. I withdrew from the Arab Bank in shekels, but other volunteers have had to use other cash machines and then exchange their currency.

The city is pretty safe and many people go out late into the night, especially due to the hot weather in the summer. I have been out after 10pm without any difficulty and its not unusual for shops to be open until late.

Travelling
Transportation around Palestine is informal, but relatively simple once you know where to get the mini buses. The bus to Jerusalem (Al-Quds) is not too far from the Excellence Center and takes you to the Old City. There are also servees (yellow mini-bus) from the bus station in Hebron. I travelled on my own to Jerusalem and was able to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque by following those around me. I was lucky enough to meet a Palestinian in the mosque who was willing to go around the Old City with me.

I also went to the Dead Sea and Ramallah with internationals from the centre and went to Nablus on my own. On my journey from Ramallah to Nablus I met three sisters, one of whom was willing to go around the Old City in Nablus with me and later invited me to her home. Throughout my travels, everyone was very helpful and the sisters that took me around Nablus were the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Overall
I would recommend coming to Palestine for the cultural and learning experience. The Excellence Center provides various programmes to suit individual needs and provides support, especially in regards to finding a host family. One of my main goals was to improve my Arabic and I was incredibly satisfied with that aspect of the programme. It is also important to note that the quality of the experience really depends on how you utilise your free time as, depending on the programme you do, you may have flexible hours and/ or extra free time.

How can this program be improved?

More structure to the programme regarding the delineation between the separate weeks.
More Arabic lessons.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Salam Mariam,

Thank you so much for reviewing the internship in Palestine program. It was great to have you at the center this summer.

We will take your suggestion for improvement in our consideration. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Tataki
Female

Volunteering in Palestine: an opportunity to travel, learn Arabic and explore a different culture

7/10

I decided to participate in the Excellence center's program because I wanted to get to know Palestine, to study its language, to study its people, its history and to see for myself all those places I had heard so much about. Being here, I was given the chance to do all these and so much more.
My experience here has filled my memories with some very beautiful images; the woman in the taxi that offered me fries despite not knowing me, the guy who was willing to walk with me for two blocks just to make sure that I would not get lost due to my terrible Arabic, my host mother who introduces me as her daughter, the old man in the street who wanted to share with us his candies at 7 am, the late night talks with my host sister in a mix of body language and google translations and of course all those little efforts the people make to communicate with me in a language they do not master.

Palestine is an amazing place and its safe enough for foreigners. People here are very welcoming and I had great time here so I would definitely recommend participating in this program if you are interested in the region or if you are just looking for a fun and kind of productive way to spend your time.

How can this program be improved?

Some more organization could be helpful

Default avatar
Einar
Male
22 years old
Stockholm
Other

Great time with wonderful people

10/10

I really enjoyed my stay at the Excellence Center in Palestine. Hebron is a very lovely city though it has kind of a bad reputation in the West Bank, but I assure that what you read in the news isn't representative of the life here. People are very sweet and kind and I've made a lot of friends that I am going to miss a lot.

I feel like the teaching was very rewarding, and though I didn't have teaching experience from before I had a great deal of fun and learnt a lot. The Arabic classes were also really good, my teacher was Marwa and she's a really nice person and a good teacher. I also learnt a lot of Arabic just by chatting a lot with people at the center, they are all very kind and helpful.

Thanks to this program I've become even more motivated to learn Arabic fluently. Hopefully this goal will bring me back to Palestine sometime in the future!

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi our Swedish volunteer,

Thank you so much for your great work at the Excellence Center this summer we appreciate your great work very much. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future.

Greetings from the entire team

Default avatar
Casey
Male
23 years old
Anaheim, California
California State University- Fullerton

3 months in Palestine

10/10

When I decided to go to Palestine to volunteer and learn Arabic, many of relatives expressed genuine concerns for my safety and questioned whether or not my going was worth it. It was. Let me tell you we foreigners are far safer than any of the locals in these parts, a privilege that allowed me to travel and learn. A privilege I tried not to take for granted. The souls you will meet here are of phenomenal value and at least for me I have made life long friendships. Apart from the people and experiences, international presence we the volunteers bring are crucial for cities like Al Khalil and other cities in the West Bank. Not only do the Israeli's furthermore feel the eyes of the world are upon them, we bring the world to a people who by in large are forbidden from travelling. We give them the opportunity to meet foreigners and discover the world through our stories and both we and them break stereotypes while getting to know each other. The world needs eye witnesses of the occupation, our home countries need our tales of the West Bank in order to shatter stereotypes and bring awareness of the struggle here to the world. Personally I took a lot away from teaching my English classes, the young minds I encountered really opened my mind up to the reality that we are all the same and deserve the treatment and opportunities. At the Excellence center itself, we the volunteers were treated very well. Whenever we needed anything or had a question, we merely had to speak up and staff would be ready to handle our problems personally. Not only these, we make close friendships with the staff, almost always a particularly strong friendship with whomever our Arab instructor happens to be. My instructor was the implacable Mariam who fostered me from an obnoxious tourist to a pigeon Arab speaker who can chat with a taxi driver. Over the numerous classes I'd like to think we became friends. So if you're reading this, Hey Mariam!!

How can this program be improved?

It is perfect.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Casey,
Greetings from Hebron. Thank you so much for writing a review. We appreciate your great work very much. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you again at the Excellence Center in the near future.

We wish you success in learning Arabic

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Ben
Male
20 years old
England
Durham University

My Experience in Palestine

9/10

Hello, my name is Ben and I have spent the last month volunteering at the Excellence Centre. As an Englishman studying a degree Natural Sciences I arrived in the West Bank with a very limited understanding of Palestinian language and culture. Through teaching, studying and travelling, I felt far more aware by the time I left and have the intention to return in the future to learn more.

The Excellence Centre acted as the central hub throughout my stay. The centre organised various trips to local businesses and a refugee camp, provided meals every morning (and some evenings) for all the volunteers, and was where I spent the majority of my time teaching, or planning for, English lessons for various classes ranging in age and ability. I found the teaching surprisingly rewarding; I was given real responsibility teaching classes (I was teaching independently by the end of my stay) and the desire the pupils at the centre had to learn was humbling. With my more advanced classes, I had the opportunity to move away from teaching grammar and vocabulary and instead stimulate intercultural discussions which truly were some of the highlights of my stay.

The centre also provided my Arabic Tuition. My formal lessons were the perfect opportunity to ask any questions and go through some useful topics, however I found myself learning more outside my lessons through my peers, staff at the centre and though the Palestinian people. I was constantly stopped after classes, on the street and whilst travelling by Palestinians who would encourage me to use my arabic and correct my mistakes (often requiring a lot of mime!).

At different times in my trip I stayed with both a host family and with other volunteers in an apartment owned by the centre. I enjoyed both experiences greatly; having valuable time to relax in the evenings with other native speakers whilst in the apartment and engaging in another aspect of Palestinian culture spending evenings with my host family.

Many of my highlights of my stay came whilst travelling around the West Bank. The centre provided me 2 days of each week, and was very accommodating when I requested to have the same day off as some of other volunteers so we could travel together. During my stay I managed to visit Bethlehem, Jerusalem (twice), Nablus, Jericho, the Dead Sea and Ramallah, all for a reasonable price via public transport. I love to travel and one of my main worries when deciding to come to the centre was that I would get bored staying in the same place for a month - my days off meant this certainly wasn't the case! Importantly, I felt completely safe everywhere I visited and and all the volunteers planned their trips inclusive of anyone who wanted to come along so people were rarely traveling by themselves.

Of course, I would be lying if I said everything about my stay was positive (however the pros far outweighed the cons) . If you plan to travel in the summer, be prepared to be constantly sweaty (maybe i'm just used to the typical English weather) and enjoy a very limited diet predominantly of pitta and falafel. Although not a universally negative point, I find it important to note that you will find yourself with a fair amount of free time, so you need to be self disciplined to study, plan lessons or experiences for yourself and not expect the centre to keep you completely occupied.

In summary, I found my stay in Palestine with the Excellence Centre truly rewarding on many levels, most significantly through teaching and providing a location to get to know a huge range of people from the West Bank and across the world. I would wholeheartedly recommend the experience to anyone with a curiously about Palestinian culture and language, no matter their teaching experience or Arabic ability.

How can this program be improved?

Of course, I would be lying if I said everything about my stay was positive (however the pros far outweighed the cons) . If you plan to travel in the summer, be prepared to be constantly sweaty (maybe i'm just used to the typical English weather) and enjoy a very limited diet predominantly of pitta and falafel. Although not a universally negative point, I find it important to note that you will find yourself with a fair amount of free time, so you need to be self disciplined to study, plan lessons or experiences for yourself and not expect the centre to keep you completely occupied.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Ben,

Thank you so much Ben for your great work at the Center. We wish to meet you soon in Palestine

We wish you all the best

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Benjamin
Male
29 years old
United States
Columbia University

2 Months in Hebron

10/10

Teaching for the Center was a very rewarding experience. The classes and workshops that the Excellence Center offers provide many opportunities for the different volunteers to use their particular teaching styles. I was fortunate enough to participate in a variety of classes at the center. I provided assistance to the Beginner English Classes on numerous occasions, taught Intermediate English II, gave independent lessons, and led several workshops. All of the different opportunities to teach were a pleasure to be apart of and was truly the best part of my entire time in Palestine.

The staff and teachers at the Excellence Center are awesome people. They do a great job of bringing international volunteers into the center family. The center's management, English teachers, and Arabic teachers have such a great working relationship with each other that was a lot of fun to be apart of. Some of the best times I had in Hebron were the evenings we would be at the center after hours drinking tea, smoking hookah, and hanging out with the staff.

How can this program be improved?

Their could be a little more contact with the center for volunteers while they are traveling to Hebron. The article about getting there isn't the best, and some volunteers end up paying too much for the cab/bus ride on the initial journey only to show up and have to scramble to get ahold of the center upon arrival.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Benjamin,

It was a great plesure to have you in Palestine this summer. Thank you so much for you great work and kindness. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in the future in Palestine

With kind regards,

Default avatar
Marta
Female
21 years old
Denmark
Other

My Palestinian Adventure

9/10

My name is Marta and I‘m twenty-one years old, coming from medium-sized town in the south of Poland. For two years now, I have been living in Denmark, where I study European Studies – a mix of politics, cultural and business studies. I came to Hebron to volunteer as an English teacher, as well as to pick up some Arabic.
During my time in the Center, I was assigned to do many different kinds of activities. I taught English, my students were both kids and grown-ups on various levels, although most of them were beginners or starters. I found teaching, quite unexpectedly, to be extremely rewarding and fun. Certainly, it wasn’t always easy and preparation took quite some time and creativity, but seeing students finally learn or understand something was worth all of the effort. I was also a student myself, learning Arabic. I had lessons twice a week with one more person in class; I learnt very very basic Arabic, especially the alphabet and numbers, but also few forms of communicating. The teacher was great, always eager to answer my questions or repeat if something wasn’t clear – my adventure with Arabic definitely doesn’t end here!
Atmosphere in the Center is great: everybody is extremely helpful and positive, both staff and international people. It’s always full with volunteers and students – that makes the time pass extremely fast. Everyday breakfasts and from time to time, dinners, for all the internationals was a great opportunity to get to know each other better. Generally, volunteers are amazing people, and that was the case this time as well. In our free time we would go out together or go for trips, which was always a lot of fun; I’m really grateful for the opportunity to meet them. Some of the trips were organized by the Center (such as Camel Sandals factory, visit in Doura or walk in the Old Town – that last one was definitely my favorite). I have also seen Ramallah, Betlehem and Jerusalem, as well as the Dead Sea – some of the trips I took with other volunteers and the rest with my host family.
Speaking of my host family, I don’t think I could be luckier: they made me feel at home almost instantly and I felt just like another daughter. They cooked for me delicious Palestinian food, introduced me to whole family and took me on trips; I even attended a wedding – that was definitely my favorite experience here. Seeing all the women from the family looking so elegant and glamorous, dancing beautifully to celebrate one of them getting married was magical. There was also a lot of candy and cake and overall whole experience was amazing. Hebron is a buzzing city, with a lot of people, cars and shops, with a lot to offer – from parks to shopping places to cafes; I’m sure everybody will find something interesting. I felt safe during my whole stay, even though it was a time of incident with Al-Aqsa mosque and therefore there was more tension. Personally, I didn’t experience anything negative and the only scary thing were soldiers with big guns sometimes visible on the streets. It was more of a shock than actual fear – in Denmark, where I live, guns are not an ordinary view.
Palestine amazed me the very first day I came. Everybody I met, whether on the streets trying to find my way, among Center’s stuff and finally, my host family, was extremely welcoming and kind. I think the people are my absolutely favorite thing about Palestine. They create the atmosphere one cannot not fall in love with, instantly make you feel at home and do everything possible to make your stay memorable. Last but not least, their kindness is 100% selfless – and it can be felt. I know that impression will stay with me for a long time and I’m already planning to come back in the near future, I still have much more yet to experience and explore.
Overall, I can definitely recommend volunteering with Excellence Center. My experience was very positive, I learnt a lot and had many opportunities to get to know Palestinian culture first-handed. I cannot wait to come back!

How can this program be improved?

I would add couple of more Arabic classes a week if possible. Also, I would appreciate to get the details about my host family a little earlier, so I could get in touch with them, it's always nice to at least have an idea about people you're about to live with.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Marta,

Thank you so much for your great voluntary work at the Center. 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
Szymon
Male
17 years old
Poland
Other

Experience as a volunteer in Palestine

9/10

Hello, my name is Szymon and I come from Poland from Warsaw where I attend high school.As a volunteer I participated in 'volunteer and study arabic in Palestine' programme. Here you can receive many various task that are about teaching english, from standard lessons in the excellence center to summer camp and many more. My task was to teach small children in kindergarden and also the older ones in training center in local village called taffouh. At the beginning in the kindergarden I was a little overwhelmed by the kids being excited from our presence and it was hard to gather them in one group, but after a very short period we managed to encourage all of the kids to listen and had a lot of fun together while teaching english. The kids were very welcoming, they waved at us when we first arrived and they have greet us with incredible warmth. The older students from training center were also friendly and open-minded if it comes to learning english. Not everything was easy for them but most importantly they wanted to learn and remembered the topic from last lesson and for most of the time they didn't talk with each other so it was much easier for us to proceed with the subject.Volunteering in this programme includes 3 hours of arabic lesson per week. Classes are usually organized individualy or in two. With my only very basic understanding of arabic at my arrival it was very hard for me to communicate with local population, however arabic lessons with my teacher gave me the idea of basic communication in local Palestinian street dialect. Foundations in arabic are not really hard to understand and if you learn it with a teacher you will catch it very fast for sure!
Also, staying with the family in the city of Hebron was an incredible experience. We lived in the outskirts of the town in the neighbourhood called Wadi-Al-Karm. It was amazing to eat with locals, sleep in their house and live their everyday lives.
We were often taken to the parties or just acquainted with their friends. As an international you will probably receive a lot of invitations for dinner or parties even from random strangers. The city itself has much to offer, from decent palestinian restaurants, to snooker, gaming and coffee places and many tourist atractions, which can be mostly found in the old city. It is very easy to travel to many other places in Palestine, there is a big bus station near the city center that can take you almost anywhere! Don't forget that historically Palestine is the center for three large religions. Places like Jericho, Betlehem or Ramallah have much to offer.If it comes to security than I doubt if there is anything to worry about, people here have huge respect for private property so the likelihood of theft is almost 0% here. The street violence also doesn't exist among Palestinians. Saying it shortly, It is an amazing experience to share your knowledge with local people and get a lot of gratitude for this, traveling around the country is very easy and it feels like a adventure of a lifetime. It is a place for people at any age that rejoice with working with kids and teens!

How can this program be improved?

Extend volunteer options from learning english and studying arabic and writing about Palestine to something more

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi our Young Volunteer Szymon,

Thank you so much for your great work. 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
Matthew
Male
20 years old
USA
Indiana University- Bloomington

Great 2-month experience

10/10

My name is Matthew and I am from the USA, where I study music and theatre at Indiana University. I have spent the last two months doing the Teach English Speak Arabic, or TESA, program at the Excellence Center in Palestine.

As part of this program, I taught English, took Arabic lessons, and wrote articles. My main teaching duties were in Kharas, a nearby village, where two other interns and I taught two five-week courses to students aged eight to eighteen.

I came here knowing almost no Arabic. My Arabic lessons here were fast-paced and informative. I started out in lessons with one other student, then had one-on-one lessons later. Arabic is a difficult language that will probably take me years to learn, but this summer got me off to a running start.

The Excellence Center is a wonderful environment to work in. The staff are friendly and helpful. Working at the Excellence Center provides the opportunity to get to know not only Palestinians, but internationals from all over the world. After my time at the Excellence Center, I have friends in Sweden, the UK, Spain, Denmark, Poland, Greece, Italy, Canada, and South Africa.

The Excellence Center provides free tours for internationals a few times per week. During my time here, I have visited a leather factory, a glass and ceramics factory, a keffiyeh factory, Ibrahim’s Oak, a nearby refugee camp, Hebron’s Old City, the Ibrahimi Mosque, and al-Shuhada Street.

On Fridays and other days off, there is plenty of time to make trips around Palestine, which internationals sometimes organize in groups. I have visited Jerusalem several times, and all of the major cities in the West Bank at least once: Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, and Nablus. I have also crossed the Green Line and visited Nazareth. Before coming to Hebron, I spent time in Haifa, Akko, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

I lived in an apartment with other male internationals, rather than with a host family. However, Hebron is a large and friendly city with endless opportunities to interact with locals. Palestinians are extraordinarily eager to make friends, especially with foreigners, so I experienced plenty of cultural immersion.

I did not feel scared or unsafe during my stay here. Hebron is not usually a violent place, and crime is not prevalent. Near the end of my stay here, there were some demonstrations by young men and boys over Israeli restrictions and alterations on the al-Aqsa Mosque. Demonstrations typically result in clashes with the Israeli army involving tear gas, stun grenades, and sometimes bullets (usually rubber or rubber-coated). While Palestinian demonstrators get injured and sometimes even die in these clashes, you as an international will definitely be safe as long as you don’t put yourself in the middle of these. They most often occur on Friday afternoons and evenings within half a kilometer of the Old City. They did not make me fear for my safety and you can usually tell ahead of time when they will occur if you follow the news.

My favorite aspect of my time in Palestine was the people I met here; both the internationals working at the Excellence Center and the Palestinians I got to know. It has also been extremely rewarding to work with my students in Kharas over the past five weeks, befriending them and watching them make progress.

One of the most interesting experiences I have had in Palestine was touring Ibrahimi Mosque, the Old City, and al-Shuhada Street, which is in H2, the part of Hebron controlled fully by the Isreali army rather than the Palestinian Authority. The Excellence Center hires tour guides who can give you information about Hebron and their firsthand experience. It was sad to see how part of Hebron has been turned into a ghost town where the Palestinian residents live under constant harassment from settlers and soldiers, as well as the threat of having their homes stolen. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience to visit this area.

I loved my time in Palestine and I absolutely want to come back. Palestine is a fascinating country with an extremely kind people. The TESA program at the Excellence Center was the perfect way to spend my time here. I now have a foundation on which to build my Arabic skills, as well as the confidence that I am able to teach English. I would certainly recommend the Excellence Center to anyone interested in coming to Palestine, studying Arabic, teaching English, or even just having a unique cultural experience.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Matthew,

Thank you so much for your great work during the two months in Palestine. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in the future

Greetings from Palestine

Default avatar
Oliver
Male
England
University of Birmingham

My Experience in Palestine

8/10

My name is Olly and I am from the United Kingdom. I am currently studying Economics at the University of Birmingham and I participated in the volunteer in Palestine program. During my month here, I have taught all levels from starter up to intermediate, which has been nice as each level has its own pros and cons, so a mix keeps you both enthusiastic and challenged. I have also been teaching in Dura, a suburb of Hebron as part of an outreach program there. My work in Dura has added a different dimension to my time here, and I think has made it more varied and enjoyable.
The Arabic lessons I have received from the centre have been very good, as I had no prior experience before coming here, and now have basic conversational skills and some varied vocabulary. My teacher was great and very kind, although I think a more intensive course would only have positively influenced the experience. It is easy to pick up and practice your Arabic whilst here, as most locals don’t speak English, so there are ample opportunities to improve.
The centre itself is great, the staff and volunteers are by far the best aspect, with them always been incredibly friendly and welcoming. The students were also all fairly keen to learn, and though you don’t stay with all the same classes throughout, the students were a joy to teach and develop friendships with. The breakfast offered was a great opportunity to chat with the other volunteers, and the only thing I can say the centre is lacking is a few more computers, as I often found myself fighting to get control of one to write articles or prepare lessons etc. This could also be remedied by expecting all volunteers to bring laptops and having a more accessible printing system for lesson materials.
Whilst in Palestine, I made an effort to go and see as many other cities as possible, and to make the most of my time here, as who knows when I’ll be back. Therefore, I visited Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho and Jerusalem. Each of these had its own amazing sights to see, with my favourite probably being Ramallah, as i simply just liked the vibe of the place and architecture. There were a few places I would have liked to have visited that I didn’t get to see, such as Herodyon and Haifa, but given the time I had, I feel that I saw all I could. One thing I would say, is that before coming I was told that $50-$100 is sufficient weekly, and that is probably true for Hebron, but if you go on further trips to Nablus, Ramallah, Haifa the costs start to add up with hostels and such. Thus, if you want to make the most of your time here be prepared to spend a little more, although Palestine is still very cheap in comparison to most other places I’ve visited.
Living with a host family, i think, definitely improved my experience and helped for me to settle in and see a different side of the city. Equally, having other volunteers living with us also helped me to settle in, so I believe I had the best of both worlds. The Palestinian people are all very friendly and welcoming to us as foreigners, and really keen to get to know you and show you around.
People in England have a certain perception of Palestine, based on its portrayal in the media, and its been great to come and see what its really like. Now at the end of my time here I feel very safe here in Hebron, and returning from trips feels likes returning home. Often you will forget the bigger picture and just get swept up in the day to day, before something reminds you of the occupation. It is more noticeable when on trips, as you see the checkpoints, soldiers and walls. However, I’d say I feel as safe here as I do in England.
In summary, Palestine has provided me with experiences which I will never forget and has helped me to develop as a person while having fun doing it. The staff and the kids at the centre are great, the other volunteers are fun and the Palestinian people are warm and inviting. Any complaints I’ve made are but nitpicks suggesting room for improvement, and what matters most is that you have a good time and feel like you’ve made a difference. Which I can say that I have.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Olly,

Thank you for posting a review and for your great work at the Center. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you soon in Palestine

Greetings from Palestine

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Nick

Excellence Center Review by Nick

10/10

My name is Nick Hainsworth from the United States. Currently, I am studying for my bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies/Arabic at Brigham Young University in Utah. For the past 5 weeks, I have been living in Hebron, Palestine, teaching English at the Excellence Center. This teaching has been challenging, diverse, and rewarding. In addition to the amazing opportunity to connect with Palestinians through teaching, I was also able to participate in the Center’s excursion programs and Arabic classes.
My primary activities at the Excellence Center consisted of teaching English in various capacities. For several weeks, another volunteer and I taught an English class at a summer camp a couple times a week. I was also asked to teach English privately at the Center to a local girl named Mira. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had to connect with and teach Mira. Not only was it a chance to stretch myself in terms of teaching, but I learned so much about Palestinian life from these lessons. The Excellence Center also provided two Arabic classes for me a week. For me, these lessons were invaluable. So much of the time was focused on teaching English, it was refreshing to have time during the week to solely focus on learning Arabic. An addition to the lessons, it was always fun to practice my Arabic with locals in taxis or grocery stores. Even without an immense effort, being saturated in the language helped to improve my Arabic skills.
A special part of the experience here that made it so enjoyable was the outstanding people I got to spend it with. The other volunteers were fun and provided opportunity to meet and befriend people from other nationalities. The Excellence Center became close friends and near to my heart. It was apparent they cared about us and our wellbeing here in Palestine. They accompanied us on all our excursions to historic and cultural sites in Hebron, including places like the Abraham mosque, Old City, local factories, a nearby refugee camp, and an Orthodox church. In addition to these local sites, we were given two days off a week to explore other places in Palestine. I would highly suggest to any future volunteer to take full advantage of these days off. I was able to travel all over Palestine, seeing sites and meeting people in Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, and Jerusalem.
There is plenty of media in the western world that paints Palestine as this constant war zone and an incredibly dangerous place to live. To be fair, this place is different than the western world and there is a conflict. I got a real sense of that while living here. That being said, I never once felt threatened while getting around Hebron. There might be some taxi drivers who try to rip you off, but that’s about it. By the end of my time, I felt completely comfortable walking around. So many people on the street would say, “Welcome, where are you from? Welcome to Palestine, welcome to our city.” This is pretty telling of the hospitality of the people here. That will probably stay in my memory as the what I liked most about Palestine.
It’s still a little hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I could come to the West Bank, Hebron of all places, and live for a short amount of time. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for the chance to live here, meet amazing people, and give back in some small way. I loved the Excellence Center and the chance to teach English. The staff and students I met will always hold a place in my heart. I’ve had too many fantastic experiences to pick one that encompasses all that I’ve learned and experienced. However, the sum of these experiences has left a lasting impression on me. Living here has been life changing. I will never forget this country, its people, its culture, and the change all these things had on me. Thank you, Excellence Center, and thank you, Palestine.

How can this program be improved?

The teaching experience could be slightly better organized with more time for preparation, but this wasn't the hardest thing in the world to work with.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Nick,

Greetings from Palestine. Thank you for your great work. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in the future at the Center

With kind regards,

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Emil
Male
25 years old
Sweden
Other

My experience in Palestine

10/10

My name is Emil and I’m a 25 years old guy from Sweden. I came to Hebron, eager to learn about the Arabic culture and language, without any former experience of it. The five weeks I’ve spent here have been amazing in many ways. The working environment at the center is great and we (staff and volunteers) have become a family and to teach English to the students is so rewarding. The three hours of Arabic lessons I had every week were really good and made me able to understand, at least some, conversations in Arabic. And that is useful, because a lot of Palestinians on the streets are interested in western people and want to talk for a while.

There’s also a lot of time to visit different cultural and religious sites. Besides the tours the Excellence Center offer in Hebron, including local factories, the old city and meetings with Palestinian families, volunteers have two days off every week, making it possible to travel around the West Bank. I have visited Bethlehem, Jericho, Jerusalem, Ramallah, the Dead Sea and the mountains outside Hebron during my time here. These places have so much history and are important to all three Abrahamic religions, which makes it possible to experience so many different things when living on the West Bank.

I had the opportunity to stay with a Palestinian guy, together with four other volunteers. It was very fun and gave me a good understanding about the daily life of Palestinians. We spent a lot of time with him and his family and they taught us a lot about the issues many Palestinians face on a daily basis. Staying with a host also gave us the opportunity to taste some of Palestine´s cuisine. Which is delicious!

When I first came here I was worried about the safety in the West Bank. But I haven’t felt unsafe even once. I also thought five weeks were a lot of time, but the time has flown by so fast and it’s with mixed feelings I leave Hebron, Palestine. I’m glad for all the new Palestinian and international friends I’ve made, the teaching at the center, the places I’ve seen and everything I’ve learnt about the culture here, but it feels a bit sad to leave what has become my second home.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Emil,

Greetings to you from Palestine

Thank you so much, Emil, for everything. We wish you all the best and we hope to have you again at the Excellence Center in Hebron

With kind regards,

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Jamie
Female
27 years old
Hebron, Palestine
Other

Wonderful Time in Hebron

10/10

As my time in Hebron comes to an end, I am happy to say that I have had nothing but wonderful experiences throughout the past month. I arrived in the middle of Ramadan, and therefore had many opportunities to experience local culture during the Holy month. This included many iftars and many family visits. I felt very welcomed by my host family and accompanied them on visits to extended family members’ houses and even a wedding!
There were many opportunities to speak with locals from all different backgrounds. I had many interesting conversations that you couldn’t have in a classroom, including about the history of the area, the ongoing conflict, and how Hebron has progressed as a city in recent times. Hearing the opinions and point of views of different people in this setting was extremely interesting, and it will continue to fascinate me.
After the parties of Eid were over, there was more to see and do. I spent the long weekend travelling into the north of Israel with a few other teachers from the Center. We rented a car and drove to Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Tiberias. One day, we went hiking and river rafting in the Golan Heights. It was a very easy drive – only a few hours by highway – and therefore we had a lot of time to explore the surrounding countryside.
After arriving back in Hebron, there were a few more classes and the last few nights with my host family. I have spent most of my time at the Center teaching Workshops instead of the regular classes, which I very much enjoy. The workshops are for more advanced students and cover topics such as CV preparation, creative writing, and interview practice. The students are very open and eager to learn, and their motivation makes teaching these classes so rewarding. A lot of the students are eager to speak with you after class, to ask where you are from and what you study. I have even been invited to the homes of some of my students to meet their families.
I will be very sad to leave my host family when that day finally arrives. They have made me feel so at home and I feel like after nearly a month I have truly become part of the family. My host mom has taught me how to cook some Palestinian dishes, and we spend every night sitting and talking (and practicing Arabic). I have enjoyed my time in Hebron so much. I will always remember my time at the Center and I hope to come back the next chance I get.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Jamie,

Thank you so much for your great work the center during the month in this summer

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

Greetings from Hebron

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Tanya
Female
39 years old
Germany
School of Oriental and African Studies

The over-all best way to learn Arabic!

10/10

I joined the Excellence Center three months ago as a volunteer and I could not be happier with my experience here in Hebron, Palestine. I had searched online for a program that would afford me total immersion in the Arabic-speaking community. As soon as I came across the website of the Excellence Center, I knew I had found the right place for me. Once I arrived in Hebron, I was placed in a host family. Living with a Palestinian family was truly special and an experience I will never forget. I was welcomed with open arms and treated like a member of the family from day one. I was always included in every family occasion, including seven wedding-related events, which truly gave me a unique look into everyday Palestinian life and culture. We always enjoyed meals together (my host mother is an exquisite and passionate cook!) and I feel I have tasted almost every Palestinian dish. Most importantly, I was able to have Arabic around me at all times which helped me tremendously in my quest to learn the language. It has all been a truly heart-warming experience and I know my host family and I will be friends for life.

Teaching Palestinians English was incredible as well. Prior to the Center, I did not have any teaching experience but I realized straight away that the wonderfully supportive staff at the Center led by the director Marwa was always there to answer questions and help guide me when help was needed. My students were very eager to learn and speak English. I taught different levels and always tried to stay loyal the main goal of the Center, which is to have the students speak as much as possible and for us to create classes that are fun and motivating for the students. Volunteers are asked to be as creative as possible and this freedom in teaching makes the work here in Hebron especially fun and rewarding for us.

I have dreamed about learning the Arabic language for many years. Having completed a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies ten years ago, I had already attempted to learn Arabic once before but sadly did not continue. I always regretted this. So I finally decided to go to the Middle East this year and signed up for the volunteer program at the Excellence Center, which includes 3 hours of private Arabic lessons each week. I could not have made a better decision. On my first day I met my teacher Shayma and we started the most amazing language journey! She is the most talented, charming and motivating teacher and every day with her has been pure joy. I was so excited about my progress after eight weeks that I decided to pursue the intensive course for another month. I could not speak any Arabic at all prior to my stay here in Hebron and can now hold a basic conversation in Arabic as well as read and write. This development feels incredible and it is all thanks to Shayma's positive energy and teaching methods, which make class fun and filled with laughter. If you do your share and study daily on your own, you can really benefit from everything the Center offers. The staff is just amazing. Especially the director of the Center, Marwa, is always concerned in making your stay as perfect as possible. Her support made me feel so welcome at all times and well-taken care of. The Excellence Center has a beautiful soul and I will never forget how well I was treated in Palestine.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Tanya,

Thank you so much for your great efforts at the Center. You were a very good teacher and Arabic student. We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope to meet you soon at the Excellence Center

With kind regards,

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Eleanor
Female
28 years old
London, United Kingdom
Goldsmiths- University of London

My time at The Excellence Center: A summary

9/10

Marhaba! My name is Eleanor. I’m 28 years old, was born in Australia and grew up in Oxford, United Kingdom. I have been living in London for the past five years. My undergraduate degree was in Social Anthropology and History of Art/Archaeology from SOAS, University of London; I’m currently completing a masters degree in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London. For the month of June 2017, I volunteered at The Excellence Centre in Hebron, Palestine.
I also participated at The Excellence Centre last year in 2016, with the ‘Teach English, Learn Arabic’ program. This experience improved my teaching skills, providing a variety of teaching experiences, such as the opportunity to teach children, teenagers and adults. Though I had taken some beginners Arabic classes before, both experiences of living in Hebron and volunteering at the centre improved my Arabic a great deal. This year, I was signed up as a volunteer, allowing me the freedom to create my own lessons.
From the 11th to the 14th of July 2017, creative writing workshops in English were coordinated for intermediate level students at The Excellence Centre. These were organised and filmed as part of my dissertation project for an MA in Visual Anthropology. The focus was linguistic exchange, and the project was designed to watch and encourage students to express themselves in English, in a manner with which they were perhaps not used to being taught. The workshops were split into four lessons, subsequently with four primary focuses: Introduction to creative writing, Form and Rhythm, Similes, Metaphors and Descriptions and finally: Performance. The final workshop was designed to mimic an open mic or spoken word night such as that are common in the United Kingdom and United States. Overall, the project was successful with good feedback.
My Arabic lessons on both occasions both helped to me to improve my proficiency in Arabic, but perhaps the most rewarding experience in improving my knowledge of the language has been staying with a host family. I stayed with the same host family on each visit to Palestine: they are kind and welcoming, have helped me with my homework and have taught me new words. Palestinian people are very welcoming, and if you have the opportunity to stay with a host family here then it will certainly be a rewarding experience. It enlightens the visitor to the culture, and provides a comforting safety network whilst in Palestine. I have remained in touch with my own host family, and they are very dear to me. Due to their welcoming nature, I have felt very safe in Palestine.
The centre’s environment is also welcoming, in which there’s the potential to meet new people every week from around the world. Teachers and volunteers cooperate together to plan their lessons, and help each other with their Arabic study. There’s a communal kitchen in which people have their morning tea. There are site visits, and during my time at The Excellence Centre in 2017 I have visited a local glass and ceramic factory.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Eleanor,

Thank you so much for your great work at the Center. We enjoyed your 2nd visit very much

We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you for the 3rd time at the Center

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine

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Emma
Female
19 years old
London
Other

Excellence Center Review

8/10

There is nothing quite like volunteering in the West Bank during Ramadan - I would definitely recommend the Excellence Center as a way to do this. The staff are friendly and helpful, the center is really well located and the students are generally engaged and eager to learn. Hebron is an interesting city to explore, and it is easy to travel around the rest of the country and explore. If you want to teach English and also learn Palestinian Arabic from a fantastic teacher, this is the place to do it. One thing I would recommend for potential volunteers is to adapt to the Palestinian pace of life - things don't always get organised as promptly as they might do at home. But as soon as you get used to this, you are bound to have a great time.

How can this program be improved?

It would maybe be helpful to have slightly more organisation regarding class times - sometimes things would be delayed or cancelled at short notice, or hindered by a lack of resources. However, this can at least partly be attributed to Ramadan, which definitely affected student attendance, as well as the process of moving to the new center.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Emma,

Thank you so much for your great work at the Center this summer. We appreciate your efforts very much

We wish you all the best in learning Arabic and we hope t have you again at the Center

Greetings from Palestine

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Stephen
Male
32 years old
Hebron, Palestine
Macquarie University

My Time in Hebron

10/10

I did not know what to expect coming to Hebron. I have over the years traveled enough to know that there is a difference between what we hear about a place as it is filtered through certain narratives or news services and reality as it is daily experienced, but I was still nevertheless unsure, probably because Hebron is one of the most unique places in the Holy Land.
I spent my time at the Excellence Centre writing articles and assisting the other volunteers in their classes. My daily duties involved speaking to the staff and students and doing research for the articles while attending the occasional lesson with one of the teachers. Daily, the Center was a hive of activity, students of all ages and all abilities attend the Excellence Center and after time I had become good friends with many of them. My favorite day was always the food day. The Excellence Center are very big proponents of informal conversational English training – a component missing from the Palestinian curriculum. For the teachers this means a relaxed teaching environment, and for everyone else this means food days. On these days, a volunteer would cook a dish from their country and the students would bring food from home. With each day starting with a Palestinian breakfast, the days would go quick – there was always something to do or someone to speak to.
As well as these activities, I also took Arabic lessons. The Center provides these to volunteers and the lessons are done one on one. As the teachers are experienced and trained in teaching methods, these classes improved my non-existent Arabic to a level I thought was not possible. I enjoyed these lessons so much (and my teacher, Do’a of whom I would recommend to anyone) that once my volunteering time was finished, I undertook an extra week of Arabic lessons with Do’a, and am hoping to continue with her when I return home.
Of course, being in Palestine, I wanted to travel and see the region and the Center were able to assist with this as well. I visited a nearby refugee camp where we had lunch with a family, visited a nearby village and meet the mayor after being driven through the beautiful surrounding hills. Mid-way through my stay, I was also taken on a tour of Hebron where I saw Abraham’s Oak. As at the time of writing this, I have also planned a trip to a Bedouin community in my last week in Hebron. Each tour is perfectly planned, all a volunteer has to do is express an interest and then show up at the Center, the rest is taken care of.
In all, the Excellence Center has been the perfect place from which to not only see Hebron, but to experience it. The staff members treat everyone like an extended family while Marwa is the perfect boss. Hebron itself can be hard to describe, it is not like Ramallah, nor does it match Jerusalem in its religious splendor. The city though has a distinctive flow, a rhythm that originates from the Palestinians who live there. It is this, this unique flow that Hebron moves to, that is the city’s true gift. It certainly has its troubles, and some days are reminders that this place is a hotly contested city between two groups of determined people, but despite this, or maybe even because of this, Hebron still takes a hold of you and in return provides an insight into Palestine that you will unlikely get anywhere else.
Stephen Hindes

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Stephen,

Greetings from Palestine. Thank you very much for your great work. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you again in Hebron in the near future

"Isbur Ya Stephen"

Greeting from Palestine

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Syazana
Female
20 years old
Singapore
Other

My First Overseas Volunteer Experience

8/10

My name is Syazana and I am from Singapore. I am 20 years old and just recently graduated with a Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism. I participated in the program, Volunteer in Palestine for about a week.

I participated volunteering works such as assisting a teacher teaching for one of the classes conducted at the center, conducted my own English lesson with two other volunteers at a local school, and also learn basic Arabic Language. This was a first for me as I’ve never done any teaching before, what more to students of many ages which ranged from as young as 10 years old to as old as working adults. It was also an experience trying to teach them with our language barrier.

Learning the Arabic language here was also a great opportunity for me to be able to expand on my Arabic language knowledge. I learnt very minimal basic Arabic back in Singapore and thus being able to learn the dialect here was fun. I can even apply them practically in or out of the center with the locals here. However, it is quite sad that I only get to learn very basic Arabic here due to my short stay with the center.

The staff at the center are very friendly and nice. They’re always welcoming me by making tea and breakfast at the start of the day. Breakfast at the center is a great time to socialize with the staff and other international volunteers here. During my short stay here, I was able to make friends with 4 other volunteers from countries such as Mexico, America, and London. The students at the center are very enthusiastic as they are very keen to learn English. It is really fun to be able to teach the students here.

The center brings volunteers to places in Hebron such as the Old City, the Ibrahimi Mosque, and also a glass and ceramic factory. The Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque is one of the few tourist attraction in Hebron. It holds a rich history and thus the trip there was very engaging as I was able to learn about some history of Hebron. The glass and ceramic factory visit was an experience too as I was able to witness how the ceramics are being made before it is ready for sale. Other than the site visits that the center brought us to, I went to outside of Hebron on my off day. As I went for the volunteering program together with my sister, we went to visit Jerusalem for a day visit. We visited the famous Old City in Jerusalem as well as the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

During our stay here, I was attached to a host family together with my sister. Our host family was very friendly and welcomed us with open arms. They always provided us with whatever they could to ensure that we could adjust to living in Hebron. We learnt a lot while staying with them - their culture, their family, their traditions, the Hebron lifestyle, and the conflict with Israel and how it affects the lives of Palestinians, including our host family. Over dinner, we get to enjoy the host family’s home-cooked Palestinian food, and listen to the family converse in Arabic; a great way for us to pick up and learn the Arabic language here.

We love everything about Palestine - the food, the people, and the scenery. The food here is really delicious, a great opportunity to try out different types of local food that our home country doesn’t serve. The people here are very friendly. They will try to converse with you even though they can’t speak English fluently, and will be more than happy to help you out. Palestinians also get very excited when they see foreigners. They will ask where you’re from and welcome you to Palestine, wishing you a great stay here. The scenery here is very different from Singapore. The architecture is different as there are many high-rise buildings in Singapore compared to Palestine. The weather here is different too. Palestine experiences the 4 seasons while Singapore is very humid and either sunny or rainy. We were able to experience the end of their spring season and the beginning of their summer season. It is chilly in the morning and night, but very hot and sunny in the afternoon.

Safety and security of living in Palestine is one of the many concerns of tourists who’d like to visit Palestine. However, fret not. Although there are many checkpoints along Palestine and many armed soldiers stationed everywhere, I do feel safe. My sister and I did experience some difficulty at Tel Aviv when we first reached Israel but we were able to make it to Hebron safely.

My stay here in Hebron has been really great and I would recommend to others who are keen on doing volunteering works in Palestine, to those who are keen on learning the Arabic language, or even to those who want to visit Palestine as a tourist. I’ve learnt a lot of valuable things here and would not mind coming back again in the future.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Syazana,

Greetings to you from Palestine. It was a great pleasure to meet you and your sister in Hebron. Thank you for your great work.

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

With kind regards,

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Khairunisa
Female
24 years old
Singapore
Other

My First Time Staying in Hebron

8/10

I am Khairunisa from Singapore. I just graduated from university last year and after completing a contract job, I am now on a break. I wanted to do something meaningful during this break and so after searching on the net for volunteering opportunities, I decided to sign up for the ‘Volunteer in Palestine’ program at the Excellence Center together with my younger sister. We stayed in Hebron for a week but even with the short visit, it was a very meaningful and enjoyable experience.

We were warmly greeted by the staff here at the Excellence Center on our first day. After a long and tiring journey, we were really delighted when they prepared for us lunch. The staff here are very friendly and are always making sure that we are alright, especially if we have any difficulties or problems. We start our days with breakfast at the Excellence Center every morning so it was very easy for us to converse with one another. It was a good time to ask about the Palestinian culture and lifestyle, and also for the volunteers to share with one another their experiences here.

We were also greeted by our host brother on our first day. Our host family are not fluent in english except for one of the sisters. However, we were still able to converse about many things such as our traditions, cultures, and lifestyle. I really enjoyed having a home stay as it really allowed us to experience the daily lifestyle here and be part of their family. Our host family had a ten-year-old girl and it was a pleasure to meet her as it reminds me of my youngest sister back in Singapore. We joined their family every night after a day at the Excellence Center. Some nights, we would be sitting outside their home, enjoying the night, and at some nights we would be watching television together. We also got to try their homemade food for dinner. It was really good and I really enjoyed trying Palestinian food here. They even made us for dessert too! We were really touched by it. As we spent a week together, I’ve made good friends with the family and I am really sad to leave them.

As our stay here was very short, the staff at the Excellence Center tried their very best to ensure that we could make the most out of our time here. We started our first few days with Arabic lessons with one of the teachers here. As we learnt standard Arabic back in Singapore, we did not know any Palestinian Arabic. Our Arabic teacher helped to equip us with basic Palestinian Arabic so we could converse with the locals here. The lessons here are conducted on a one-to-one basis so for our case, we got to take the lessons together. It was very useful as the lessons could be catered to our pace and our prior knowledge of Arabic.

Other than learning Arabic, the staff at the Excellence Center brings the volunteers around Hebron. We got to visit the Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque. We were especially interested to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque as it is one of the religious places here in Palestine. As we are Muslims, we were very happy to visit the place where the Prophet Ibrahim and his wife, were buried. With a staff bringing us around, we got to learn the historical and cultural context of the places. We also went to a ceramic and glass factory where we got to see for ourselves how they make their glass and ceramic products. As we visited the factory, it was convenient to buy some souvenirs for ourselves and families at a good discount!

Also not forgetting our main intention to visit Palestine, we got to help out with the English lessons conducted here. We were given the opportunity to assist a teacher in her English lesson and visit a school to conduct a conversational English lesson for beginners. The students at the Excellence Center are of various ages, ranging from as young as ten years old to working adults. it was a good opportunity for us to try teaching different groups of students with different levels of the English language. Even though there were some language barrier, the students here are very determined to learn English and will try their best to take part in lessons. On days where we did not teach English, we were assigned to write articles for the Excellence Center.

Just like others, we were a bit worried about safety, especially our parents, as the journey from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to Hebron was long. Even though we experienced some tight security at the airport, the journey to Hebron was a smooth one. It is very safe here, even for female travellers. Even without any basic Arabic, the Palestinians are very helpful, so we could always count on them whenever we faced any difficulties such as when searching for directions. Unlike what is portrayed in media, it is safe to travel around Palestine.

We really enjoyed our stay here in Palestine. We would definitely recommend anybody who wants to try experience the lifestyle here. There are various programmes such as learning Arabic and teaching English. You not only get to learn the culture here but also have a meaningful trip by helping the people here. Even though our trip was extremely short, we really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. We are definitely looking forward to our next trip here.

How can this program be improved?

We only got to know our schedule sometimes on the day itself or a day before so it would be good if we could know our schedule in advance so that we could plan our day better and inform our host family what time we would be coming home. It was also difficult to communicate with the Excellence Center before our departure to Palestine as we were worried about arriving at the Tel Aviv Airport since we are Muslims. But it turned out alright, and we managed to follow the steps found on their website.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Khairunisa,

Thank you so much for your great work at the Excellence Center. We are very happy that you and your sister enjoyed the stay in Hebron.

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

With kind regards,

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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