Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine

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About

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 250 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.

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

Reviews

91%
based on 92 reviews
  • Impact 8.7
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 15 of 92
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Mie Vibeke
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

My name is Mie and I am 21 years old . I live in Denmark and went to The Excellence Center during my second gap year. I finished the Danish ‘gymnasium’ (equivalent to high school) in 2016 and have worked as a substitute teacher since then. It was my work with children and my interest in art and travelling that lead me to The Excellence Center. I applied for the Art and Music program in the hope of teaching art here in Palestine.
The moment I walked inside the center I was welcomed by the other volunteers. My trip here was not as smooth as I expected, so it was nice to be welcomed in that way. As I sat in one of the chairs in the reception I heard volunteers speaking fluently with the staff – and I was speechless, I thought that if they all are fluent in Arabic I will be left behind in the social life at the center. This turned out not to be true, and at every activity and the everyday life at the center, English will always be the main language, especially when your Arabic is lacking or non existing, as it was in my case.
As you probably could guess from the text above – I DID NOT KNOW A WORD OF ARABIC. I knew the word for ‘dog’ and ‘animal’, but I learned from and Iraqi, which means that even those words were a different.
My very intelligent and sweet teacher Raghad learned me everything I know now from scratch. We started with the common greetings and during each class she would teach me five new letters. At first I didn’t see the use of learning the alphabet, but it will help me continuing my studies at home. She adjusted the classes to my needs, so I learned the different colours (to make my art class easier for the children and myself) and the numbers so I could go shopping and hackle with the prices as you are supposed to.
I quickly received many classes at schools and got my own class at the center. They do not have art at the schools, so no matter what kind of creative class I broad it was an improvement. The way of seeing art classes was also different: I was asked to choose the best drawing but refused – art is for me a place where judgment is put aside and it is more about the act of creating and the process than the product itself (especially when we are talking about children). It is the same reaction that art can bring children no matter the geographical place. Their smiles are the same in Denmark and in Palestine.
I also had drawing classes three times a week at the center, one for children and two for adults, who would also learn something about drawing techniques.
I was very fortunate and got the opportunity to travel around Palestine during my stay, even though I didn’t expect this when I planned my trip here. I have been to Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, The Dead Sea and Jericho during my five week stay and I have travelled both with friends I have met at the center and staff from the center. Seeing more than just Hebron has broaden my view on what Palestine is and what it is like living in Palestine. I have met different Palestinians living different lives both in Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, this have helped me colour my view of what it means to be Palestinian.
I lived at a host family with another Danish volunteer for the first 3\4 weeks of my stay, and to have her as a link between the new and the known has been a big part of my positive experience in Palestine. There will always be some adjustments when you travel to a new place and live at a family, but to be honest it wasn’t hard. There is the language barrier – but one of my host sister was excellent in English and the other children spoke it okay as well, so it was only in my conversations with the parents that I needed help. The most different thing when it comes to food is how the Palestinians loves their bread, hummus and oily food. My skin bears the clear signs of the oily food (which tasted good but my body had to get used to all the grease). I have eaten grey food, and it tasted just as you might imagine, I have also eaten yellow rice, so much that I think I am going to stay away from rice when I come back home, and I have avoided all the neon pink pickles (food should NOT be neon pink!) – but dear Lord if eating falafel and hummus was a sin, I would be deemed to hell. I have had falafel for breakfast, lunch and dinner and tried many different falafel spots, but I must admit that I got the best falafel in Jerusalem.
I can only recommend coming to Palestine and volunteering at The Excellence Center. Prepare yourself to have very busy days that feels overbooked and very slow days where you (seemingly) have nothing to do. Be open-minded towards the staff, the Palestinians, their culture and the other volunteers – they will make you feel sad when you are leaving if you open yourself up to them. Say yes to new things such as wedding invitations, trips with the center, time with the family, grey food, and no when you feel like everything is a bit too much. I will definitely come back. Or as they say it down here to make sure that you know that their promises and plans can change any minute it should be (also when you have arrived) INSHALLAH

How can this program be improved?
Better contact with the students. Maybe have a facebook group just with the teacher and the students so it will be easier to ask and answer questions
Yes, I recommend
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Shayma
10/10

Volunteer at the Excellence Center

I have been working with the excellence center for one month. I work as a registered nurse in the UK and wanted to take a career break, I decided to come to Palestine as I enjoyed my last visit. I have enjoyed my time here from my host family who have been absolutely amazing to the staff at the center. I came to volunteer for the heath care program and had the honor of delivering a workshop at the The University of Hebron in front of 50 students. I think that for me was the highlight of the trip. I also had the opportunity to visit hospitals and discuss with registered nurses about the challenges they face as well as discuss some of the differences between UK nurses and nurses working in Hebron. I also assisted in teaching English at the center which has made me realize that I love teaching and cant wait to get a teaching qualification soon. I hope to return to the centre next year as one month was not enough.
I would recommend coming to Hebron and volunteering with the excellence center as they help you get settled and you will feel safe. Despite the language barriers I managed to communicate with my host family via Arabic translation apps and I have been able to learn basic conversational Arabic.

Yes, I recommend
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Jason
9/10

Volunteer at the Excellence Center

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Excellence Center in Palestine. This was actually a life changing experience where my eyes were opened to many issues both good and bad for many groups. I have made many lifelong friends and have been a recipient to the most incredible friendship and hospitality. The safety issues are sadly exaggerated in the media to the point that I am dismayed at the unfair contrast. Not once, have I ever felt that my safety was compromised, always did the the people welcome me; in fact I would go as far to say that the Palestinian people were protective. I went into a shop, and the keeper tried to overcharge me, and two Palestinians standing by intervened and told the man to charge the regular price. Furthermore, foreigners are needed in Palestine, and can perform a valuable mediation and education role to explore possibilities for peace. I must have a genuine affection for these people as today I leave, and I am very heavy hearted.

How can this program be improved?
There are lots of opportunities to allow the foreigners to better network and meet more locals which is both important for the center and for Palestine. Classes are not always constant which means there can be breaks of minimal activity. Arab time does not necessarily mean that it will start on time - but always people are friendly and polite.
Yes, I recommend
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Lynn
10/10

Amazing Hospitality in Palestine

I am a 43 year old Mother of 4 teenagers from Philadelphia in the US, I have degrees in Urban Studies and in Theology, and I am currently a full time freelance musician. I have been at the Excellence Center for 2 weeks composing, playing, and singing music to help children and adults learn English. Before I came here, I did 30 hours of online Arabic lessons with a teacher from the Excellence Center and I had an additional 5 hours while in Hebron. I found the online lessons a very important and beneficial preparation for coming to Hebron, as I had previously only studied MSA alphabet, grammar and vocabulary from books. My Arabic classes in Hebron focused on learning Arabic language and Palestinian dialect through listening to Arabic music and lyrics. I chose this approach because a goal I have is to learn more Arabic music, and also because this is the same approach I have been using to teach English to my students here.
As an intern in the Music and Arts Program at the Excellence Center, I taught English through music to classes of students and adults at the Excellence Center. Additionally, I visited several private schools in Hebron and taught classes of 20-30 students between the ages of approximately 10-13. I taught English using music and lyrics at an all boys public school in H2, the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron. I also taught 6 lessons at the School for the Blind. In each school, there was always a teacher present who could translate my English to Arabic for the students when needed. I also led a workshop for about 20 public school English teachers and led a brainstorming session with them about the challenges they face and how music can help them engage their students in learning English. Facilitating this workshop was one of my favourite activities because the teachers were so engaged and appreciative. I also visited a hospital and led a small workshop on music for healing and relaxation for patients and then demonstrated by playing music for several patients who were interested in receiving this type of support.
I enjoyed three cultural outings that were coordinated by The Excellence Center for volunteers. A group of volunteers toured the Ibrahimi Mosque, Old City Hebron, and saw Shehadah Street. At another time a group of us toured a Kaffiyeh factory and a pottery factory in Hebron. Another day several volunteers and I visited several places of interest in and near Bethlehem such as a remote monastery from the 5th century, the ruins of Herod's palace, and the church of the Nativity. Each outing was an important way to get to know other volunteers and was culturally enriching.
Another meaningful part of my two week visit to Hebron was living with my very welcoming host family. They have 4 children and live in an apartment that is about 30 minutes walk from the Excellence Center. I shared the bedroom with their 18 year old daughter, ate many meals with them, and they invited me on several outings with the family during my stay, including several visits to extended family. Several teachers or students I met here also invited me to their homes, so I had multiple opportunities to experience Palestinian hospitality.
One of my favourite evenings at the Excellence Center was when two teachers organized a guided conversation and other staff prepared a meal for us staff and internationals to enjoy together. It was so nice to be together with all the internationals and many of the staff.
Every day I walk thirty minutes to the Center in the mornings and I ride a shared taxi home. On my second day I got lost and was dropped off by the taxi in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. Teenage boys and several men gathered around me and I was nervous because I knew I was lost and my Arabic skills are very limited. The boys began to practice their English with me and giggled with each other. The men helped me use their phone and call my host father to get directions to the apartment. This is an example of how helpful and respectful the locals are to internationals and women. I believe it would also be safe to bring my family and children to visit Hebron.
The Excellence Center is well-connected to many agencies and leaders in Hebron and the surrounding area so they can help internationals do research or volunteer in a wide range of settings based on each person's unique interests and goals. It is also a friendly, welcoming home base for internationals visiting the West Bank, studying Arabic language, experiencing Palestinian culture, or volunteering. I will definitely visit Hebron again and look forward to another chance to study Palestinian Arabic and volunteer at The Excellence Center.

How can this program be improved?
Increase opportunities for volunteers to have group conversational Arabic lessons and gatherings of all volunteers and staff to meet each other.
Yes, I recommend
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Amy
10/10

Cooking in Hebron

I didn't know anything about the Excellence Center before I found it online 10 days ago. I signed up for a week long cooking class of the local cuisine. I was pleased that they said that I could come anytime for however many days that I desired. The communication was good and I felt very welcomed when I arrived. I really had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised that I would have private cooking lessons at the center with the delightful young woman Khitam.
Together we prepared breakfast for the other volunteers and staff. The rest of the morning I had a chance to go on field trips, have meaningful conversations with the staff and other internationals, and have a few Arabic lessons. Khitam and I would then go to the market for ingredients for that day's menu. I had a great time learning the words for the food items and seeing how the dishes were made. Khitam loves cooking and was a fun teacher. When the dishes were ready, everyone eagerly gathered around to share in the meal.
I've learned so much more than simply a few Palestinian recipes, I have been welcomed into their lives and received their delightful hospitality. It was challenging at times to not be able to speak Arabic, but everyone was so nice and made me feel welcomed. I will never forget the lovely people that I have met here and all of the experiences of this week.

How can this program be improved?
Since I didn't speak Arabic, it was challenging to be put with a family that didn't speak English. I loved getting to know them and they were very nice but sometimes the communication was difficult.
Yes, I recommend
مرحبا
Lidija
10/10

Palestine, first time

Lidija, 27 year old sociologist from Croatia participating in "teach English, learn Arabic" program in the Excellence center.

I applied for the Excellence center course because I was drawn to its program that tries to benefit the local community, as well as to allow participants to really get to know how the life in Palestine looks like.

My first impressions were overwhelming: people of Palestine are so welcoming and friendly, making you feel like you are at home. My advice to everybody would be to let go of fears and prejudices one might have about the Middle East and come enjoy great music, culture, food and company of Palestinians. I feel completely safe in Palestine and people are more than willing to help if you need it.

During my stay in Hebron I went to the local schools and participated in English classes in Excellence center, group ones as well as the private ones. It's a good way to be in touch with people and get a more authentic experience and I was glad to see the students were so motivated and willing to learn. The center also providedus with some little tours around, such as the old city, glass factory, keffiyeh factory etc. and it was possible to organise trips to the Dead Sea, Jericho and other places that may usually be confusing for a solo traveler to organise.

My host family made the whole experience amazing, making their home feel like mine too, I couldn't thank them enough. Living in Hebron means dealing with hundreds of different experiences and seeing a completely different world than of your own, especially if you are coming from Europe or North America, which makes it that much more interesting and gives you a new perspective.

Yes, I recommend
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Enamul
10/10

Amazing Experience

My experience in Palestine (By Ali)
I have been in Palestine for the past two weeks and what an experience it has been. I’ve always had a long desire to visit Palestine, having an interest to understand further the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the religious, historic and cultural significance of the country to so many around the world. I am currently an undergraduate psychology student, from the UK. When I came across the ‘teach English and learn Arabic’ in Palestine programme hosted by the Excellence Centre, I applied to take part and volunteer here for two weeks. My short time in Palestine has now come to an end, which makes me extremely sad. I came here to explore the country, and feel in turn it has helped me to discovered myself, through meeting the other extraordinary international volunteers from over the globe, as well as the Palestinian people themselves.
This is the first volunteering experience I have partaken in, thus I was a little nervous before taking my first class. By the end of it however, I did not want it to end. The students have such a desire to learn the language and culture of my country and showed great enthusiasm and curiosity. I will miss them all! My role involved teaching English reading, speaking and helping to improve spoken English conversation skills through a variety of activities, and assisting the other English teachers at the Centre. The Excellence Centre is a very welcoming place with many friendly faces. There is a very vibrant and hardworking atmosphere here and excellent facilities for teachers and students alike. During my first week, I attended the Palestinian Polytechnic University to assist teaching here. Furthermore, I was invited to attend the Al Quds University Student Graduation Ceremony, which was an amazing experience for which I am grateful.
Having prior knowledge of Arabic (being able to read but not speak or write), I had good foundations which my Arabic classes helped me to build on. I learnt how to introduce myself, and have basic conversations in Arabic. I felt the best way I learnt Arabic was through speaking to neighbours and students, especially through socializing.
The places I visited in Palestine
The first city I visited here was Bethlehem, famous for its religious significance. I had a great experience here with fellow volunteers and EC staff and some friends. We tried different Palestinian and Syrian food and explored the historic buildings in Bethlehem. Next, we visited the Old Town of Hebron, a 10 minute Taxi ride from the Centre. This was such an eye-opening experience and you can really feel the extent of the Israeli occupation here, with the numerous settlements and checkpoints. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the “Ghost town” (Al-Shuhada street) due to it being closed by the Israeli police.
Visiting Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque was my favourite experience here. Such an eye-opening experience, and such a unique place, important to many different religions. The old city of Jerusalem is split into four quarters (Muslim Quarter, Jewish Qurater, Christian Quarter and the Armenian Quarter), which I was able to explore. I would extremely recommend visiting Jerusalem to everyone. Seeing the wall separating Israel from the West Bank was such an eye-opening experience.
Finally, I was able to visit Jericho, the oldest city in all the world. The weather here was amazing, and we went hiking up through Wadi Qelt, a mountainous desert region with a beautiful valley in the middle. It was great to see this other side to Palestine, and meet the Bedouins and their camels. Due to my short time here, I was not able to visit everywhere I had planned on.
What I liked most about Palestine
I think the greatest thing about Palestine is the spirit of the people here. The hospitality is unlike anything I have experienced before. Everywhere you go you are welcomed by the friendly locals. I built up so much respect for everyone here, having now witnessed the occupation and the effect of it on the locals. Yet, you will never see it in them; they have such a positive outlook on life, which has helped me to develop myself. There wasn’t a day where I was not invited to do something, and found the only time I was home was to sleep!
Safety in Palestine
In my country and many other European Countries, it is not advised to travel to the West Bank due to obvious reasons. Before coming here, my family expressed their concerns. The reporting of the conflict by the media results in an unwillingness by many to travel here. However, it couldn’t have been more different. I expected to arrive into village settings with basic facilities, yet was greeted by a beautiful built-up industrial city with some amazing views, and when travelling, some amazing greenery. I have never felt safer whilst being here. During my visit, there have been protests taking place after Friday Jumu’ah Prayers, but your safety as an international is priority to the locals. Everyone here takes great care of you.
I would recommend volunteering in Palestine for an experience you will definitely not forget, an experience which will help you connect with yourself and develop many life skills. I cannot wait to return here in two years after I have graduated from University. Palestine is a beautiful country, with the most hospitable, helpful and kind people you can imagine. A country where you can go on a holiday, just as in any other country in the Mediterranean, yet understand the complex historic conflict in the country. I have made some amazing friends here among the locals and fellow volunteers, who I hope to stay in touch with. I am so glad my volunteering experience started here. Just one piece of advice – if you decide to come here during the winter, pack for a few chilly nights (Something I didn’t do and ended up regretting).

How can this program be improved?
Pre-departure support could be improved. Other than that everything was on point.
Yes, I recommend
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Gabrielle
9/10

Wonderful Experience

I am 29, American and I have spent the last 3 moths working with the Excellence Center.

The Excellence Center is staffed with great local Palestinian individuals who have good hearts and aim to uplift their community by providing language and life skills. I volunteered here for 3 months in the "Volunteer to Write about Palestine" program. I wrote two articles a day on the work of the center or local Palestinian life and also edited articles written by others . My host family experience was amazing, as was my Arabic teacher. The staff of the center are helpful and welcoming and the hospitality of the Palestinian culture at large is unlike any other. I worked five days a week with Fridays and Mondays off. I got to travel all over Palestine. Volunteering at the Excellence Center requires you to be able to take initiative, be flexible and think quick on your feet which are skills that are important for anyone to have. The time I spent with the center and in Hebron was a very positive experience and I glad to have been able to participate in this program and work alongside the amazing people at the Excellence Center.

Yes, I recommend
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Nathan
10/10

Review Of My Time At The Excellence Centre

Hi, my name is Nathan. I am a student from Australia. I came to the centre for a period of two weeks as part of the Volunteer in Palestine program. I chose the program as a means to, beyond the good that you can do here helping local children, better my understanding of Palestine - its people, its culture, and its ongoing issues and conflicts.
Above all else, I believe that I have come away from the program having achieved that, among many other things. I have been able to engage with the staff and children of the Excellence Centre, as well as the wider Hebron community, in a safe and supportive environment. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Hebron with the Excellence Centre and would highly recommend it to potential visitors.
The most immediate concern I had coming to Palestine, as many will share, was that of safety and security. I was pleasantry surprised to find the entire experience, including arriving in Palestine as well as travelling around within its borders, to be a safe and easy one. For internationals, travel is very convenient – though it is worth noting that that is not necessarily the case for the locals. At every step, the people of Palestine were friendly, helpful, and approachable. Many Palestinians have at least a rudimentary, conversational level of English. Transactions such as those with taxi drivers or shop workers are therefore rather easy. More often than not they will engage internationals in conversation wherever possible. They are friendly and welcoming, and always eager for a chat.
While I had travelled to the centre as part of the volunteer program, while I was in Hebron I was provided with Arabic lessons to help establish a fundamental understanding of the language and basic interactions therein. I found these lessons to be helpful, especially when later used to engage with locals. Teachings were practically focused, emphasising conversational phrases that are frequently used.
There was a good relationship between the staff at the centre and the volunteers, such as myself. There was room given to experiment with classes and class structure. We were encouraged to impart on the children where we could a sense of our own unique cultural and societal backgrounds. The volunteers I met here are from all different countries, ages, and backgrounds. A flexibility to class structure allowed us to make the most of our differences.
The lasting impression I have of Palestine is undoubtedly of the kindness of its people. I felt truly welcomed during my trip. From warmly, home-cooked dinners at the centre to just friendly chats in the streets of Hebron, the friendliness of the Palestinian people is abounding and something I will not soon forget.

Yes, I recommend
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Maneesha
10/10

My experience in volunteering in Palestine through Excellence Center

I am here at Hebron for technology program. So I mostly worked with PPU university. At the center, I learned Arabic.

I absolutely loved my Arabic lessons in the center. Both my teachers are very different. First one taught me a lot about Islam and Palestine culture while trying to teach me Arabic. Ahlam, on the other hand, focused on my Arabic. My second lesson with Ahlam was an exam :). She took my Arabic learning very seriously. I am going to continue my learning with Alham through Skype. I hope she becomes my best friend in Palestine. I don't want to lose her. She is an inspiration! My life here in Hebron has become easier because she taught me enough Arabic to survive. She has 10/10 score.

Excellence Center provided me the foundation and connections for my 2 month stay. Osama is always there taking care of each one of us. He has 30 eyes -- all of them busy making sure we volunteers are doing well in our stay in Palestine :). Osama took care of our safety, our well being and organized our work every week. He is a very empathetic director running the center. I will cherish the memories of trips with Osama. I will recommend him and the center to all who might be interested in working in Palestine.

Center/Osama organized multiple trips to Old city, Bethlehem, Leather Factory, Glass Factory, Dead Sea, Jericho. These trips were absolutely lot of fun. On my own, I went to Jerusalem, Ramalleh and Jordon(Petra and Wadi Rum).

I lived with Mai Atiya's family. She took wonderful care of me. I don't think it is humanly possible to give the amount of love Mai and her family gave me. She made me a part of her immediate and extended family. I danced with them on Indian music and also learned from them belly dancing moves. I was part of birthday celebrations of her kids and I hope to stay in the kids' life forever.

I have walked the roads of Palestine all hours with no problem. I keep getting lost :)) and I keep getting help from locals to direct me to the right way. In last 2 weeks of my stay, I moved to Lamar Hostel to get a downtown old city experience. There were days when I was the only guest in the hostel and I still felt super safe. This must be the only place on the planet that is absolutely safe for women traveling alone.

I liked Palestine's people. They are not bitter. They are not scared of loving strangers. I also admire that people in Palestine has kept their culture and traditions. They don't look or live or wear like people in west. They look so beautiful in their cultural attire. I hope they can keep Hebron the way it is! It is perfect.

My favorite time is with Ahlam, my Arabic teacher. May be because she is my most favorite person in Palestine.

You will see more people from Apple here. You are the very best. I love you. Let me know if there is ever anything I can do for the center!

Yes, I recommend
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Fabian
10/10

Lifechanging

Hi all, 

My name is Fabian, I am 30 years old and I live in the Netherlands. 
I studied Commercial Economics and Marketing Management and I currently work as an International Sales Engineer. 

I travel a lot because of my job, but not ever I have been in a place which left such a big impression on my heart as Palestine. 

Here is why. 

The reason of my stay in Palestine was selfish. When you grow up in a country like Holland, you take a lot of things for granted. 
Education, facilities, money, opportunities and especially freedom. I wanted to change my outlook on life and to see what life is really all about. 
What matters most in life? 

My first impression of the Excellence Center was already very positive. 
I had a Skype interview with Rafat and I could see in his eyes how passionate he was about this project. 
He told me about the dreams and hopes he had for this country which convinced me to take part in this beautiful project. 

My preference was to stay with a host family to truly experience the way of living in Palestine. 
Since I arranged this very last minute (3 weeks in advance) this was not possible but I stayed in a dorm instead. 

The experience stayed quite the same since the host of the dorm, took perfect care of me.
His name is Sheikh Abed and he is truly amazing. A kind hearted, funny person which could tell me a lot of stories about the life in Palestine.
I have seen him everyday over the last 2 weeks, played with his kids, played football with him, prayed with him and so much more. 

Throughout this stay, I have never felt unsafe.  I am very grateful to have met him, his kids, his whole family and friends.

They will make you feel like part of a big family. 

During my stay in the Excellence Center I followed a volunteership but this wouldn't do justice to what I have been doing here. 
This would mean that I would be mostly helping others which was not really the case. 
Ofcourse I have been teaching English to young children, teenagers and young adults but they taught me a lot more than i taught them. 

Especially the young children were absolutely amazing. 
The enthousiasm they showed, the politeness, the joy in their eyes and their dreams taught me a lot more than what I would be able to teach them.

The children were studying English outside of their regular program at school but still came to class everyday with a big smile on their face. 

The taught me to work hard, believe in your dreams, keep smiling no matter your circumstances, to educate yourself and to say alhamdulilah for everything that is given to us.  

The Center showed great professional guidance, were very helpful and flexible to make your stay as good as possible for you. 

Trips were arranged for me to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the old city, Jeericho and several other places like glass factories and a Kufiya factory. 
Therefor it has been a great cultural experience as well. A special thanks to the team which was absolutely amazing. 
Marwa, Khitam, Ahlam, Ibrahim, Ibrahim, Dua, Maryam, Osama and Muhammad. Shukran Khateer!

I wanted to write something about my favourite moment or experience but I am not really able to choose from all the good things that have happened. 

If I have to name one, it would be the football match that I have organised for children of the Excellence Center. 
We played Barcelona - Real Madrid and while I was looking at the kids running after the ball with concentrated but smily faces, I realised that this is something we should do more often. Make eachother happy. Make eachother smile more often. We tend to care too much about our own happiness that we forgot about the happiness of somebody else. One moment they forgot about the world around them. This world which is not too big since these small kids with big dreams, live in a small world which is literally surrounded by gates. Borders which prevend them from travelling and opportunities but not from dreaming. 

My overall experience is one with a lot of mixed feelings. Sad to leave, sad to see the limited amount of opportunities, sad to see certain cirumstances, angry about injustice, sad to leave behind great people but also happiness. Happy to have met great people, happy for personal growth, happy for what I've learned and happy to realise that God has blessed me with everything I have. Alhamdulilah! 
Besides happy and sad, I am also hopefull. Hopefull that the Excellence Center can contribute to the education and potential of young people in order to provide for a better future. As my great friend Ibrahim told me 'Education is the key to freedom'. 

I am already happy if you took the time to read this whole review. I hope this review will makes you realize that you have the opportunity to have a great cultural experience in which you will experience personal growth, see many things and are able to give back something to children and people that don't have the opportunities that you have. I promise you, they will not let you down...

If you would like to know more from my side and my stay in Palestine, please feel free to always contact me. 

Ma salaama (May peace be with you), 

Fabian

Yes, I recommend
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Ola
10/10

My Experience in Palestine

My Experience in Hebron Palestine
My name is Ola, I’m from the United States, have a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science, and I participated in the Teach English and Study Arabic program (TESA) for two months. Through this program I had 3 hours a week of Arabic lessons and taught students of all ages and levels. At university I studied Arabic for three years, so I came to Palestine with a base of Arabic. However, at my university we learned the formal dialect, which I quickly learned is completely different from the spoken dialect. So, I chose to have my classes focus on building my speaking and listening skills in the Palestinian dialect. My teacher was Maryam, she created lesson plans which were tailored to my level and what I wanted to learn. Maryam really has an amazing energy which encourages you to push yourself, but also isn’t too harsh. I enjoyed my lessons from her so much and really was able to see my listening and speaking improve because of her. The best thing about being at the center is that your Arabic lessons aren’t just in the classroom. There is almost always somebody in the kitchen you can practice your Arabic with, whether it’s a teacher or a visitor.
Working at the center is both fun and rewarding. The full-time teachers are so helpful in helping you adjust. I worked with Ibrahim Zahada and was so inspired and encouraged by his passion for teaching.The director MarwaShantir was an extremely important part of my adjustment to the city and the center. Her kindness and light-heartedness encouraged me to become comfortable at the center and truly act like myself in this new place. I loved working with my students so much, and the best part is seeing their improvements at the end of your time together. I think the most meaningful part of my experience was when I said goodbye to a class I had been teaching for most of my time at the center. Their genuine gratitude meant so much to me and I will carry that with me forever.
During my stay in Hebron I lived with a host family which was a unique and significant experience of my stay here. They are the true model of Palestinian hospitality. My host family was so kind, generous, and hospitable with me; but at the same time, they were respectful of my personal space which I really appreciated. They always invited me to eat meals with them, allowing me to try different traditional Palestinian food, and ensured that I had a comfortable stay. Living with a host family also gives you more opportunities to practice your Arabic. I think my favorite part of living with a host family was spending Fridays with them. Because there is no work on Friday everyone would be home and we would eat a big lunch and then just have a nice relaxing day and night watching movies, enjoying the weather, or just talking.
While in Palestine I visited a few places through the center and outside of the center. Through the center I went on several small trips within Hebron. We visited the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Old City, Al-Shuhada Street, the glass and ceramic factory, and the Church of the Maskobiyeh. These local trips were ranged from a couple of hours long or half a day. I also went on one full day trip to Jericho through the center which was a truly beautiful day. We started the day with a short hike outside Jericho then went from there to the Dead Sea. At the Dead Sea we swam, or rather floated, then made a barbecue and ate while enjoying the view of the sea. After this we went to a beautiful view at the top of the mountain and drank tea and smoked shisha while watching the sunset. Separate from the center I went on trips to Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jericho again for some hiking. The West Bank offers many beautiful and historical places to visit, and many are easy enough to get to on your own, but if you ever want the center to plan a specific trip all you have to do is ask and they will.
Before coming to Palestine, of course safety was on my mind, and I hoped that no significant political changes would occur during my stay. Unfortunately,during my stay President Trump made the announcement to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After this announcement there were reactions in Hebron and surrounding cities, and for the first two days it was unsure what would happen. However, by the third day I realized that I had nothing to fear so long as I was smart about where I went. Yes, there were protests in Hebron; but because I didn’t go anywhere near where these protests were taking place they didn’t affect my daily life, let alone harm me. I was so happy to have the center and my host family during this time because they were able to provide me with accurate knowledge about what was happening, what I could expect, and what I should do to stay safe. In general living in Palestine felt very safe for me. I never worried about walking home by myself or taking a taxi. In addition, the people of Hebron are incredibly kind and friendly people and want to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors to their city.
During my experience at the Excellence Center I really found a family in the people I met during my time in Hebron. From the staff at the center, my fellow volunteers, and local Palestinians I befriended I found so much love in this city which makes it so hard to leave. The center provides such a beautiful experience for it’s volunteers and I’m so grateful for the time I was able spend here.

Yes, I recommend
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paulina
9/10

nursing student in Palestine, health and medicine program

Pauliina, Finland, BA Nurse student, medicine and healthcare program

I participated in the medicine and healthcare program, and I also studied arabic on the side. Arabic is a relatively difficult language, but during one month I managed to do some small-talk, and to read arabic in english. The centers environment was nice, and everybody were very friendly. During my time in Palestine I visited Betlehem, the old town of Hebron and the Dead Sea.

Living in the host family was really nice experience, and I learned a lot of palestinian culture and people, that I would’ve not learned if staying on my own. We ate dinner together, and my hostmom took me to market, shopping, meetings, and made my stay in Hebron safe and comfortable. During my time in Palestine, the mood in the city was sometimes restless, due to certain political happenings.

My favorite memory of my time in Palestine was the people’s kindness and hospitality. I also celebrated my country’s 100th independence day in Palestine by having a huge dinner, and I was so happy people were participating to this event important to me.

I recommend excellence center for everybody coming to visit Palestine, they offer a programn for everybody, tailored to their interest! My medicine and healthcare programn was really a success, I got to keep lectures to first year nursing students for example about the patient communication skills and ethics. I also visited local palestinian hospital during my stay.

Yes, I recommend
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Mats
8/10

Excellence Center Stay

My name is Mats, I’m a Belgian teacher who volunteered as an English language teacher in Hebron, Palestine.
It’s weird to think that it has been 3 months since I last wrote about my experience in Palestine. Back in September I knew very little about this little place called Hebron, apart from what I’ve read in the little research I did.
It’s no secret that the political climate during my stay has greatly changed. For the most part during my stay, there had been no reason for concern and keeping myself to the same guidelines as I follow in all ‘big cities’ has worked out well. What is important to note for future volunteers is that cultural awareness and respect take priority, as well as heeding the advice of the locals and your host family.
Spending my time here as an English language teacher has been a great experience for me personally. In the past 3 months I worked with many of the staff member (although with some not as extensively as I would have liked) and have come to respect them greatly. These are Palestinian teachers who arrive after their regular hours to supplement their already busy schedule in order to help students improve their English, as well as going out of their way to make the various volunteer that come and go feel welcome. Special thanks should go out to Marwa, who not only leads the center but also has taken up the valiant task of trying to teach me Arabic. It did not matter if I failed to do my homework, forgot everything that she fought tooth and nail to teach me or if I had to bug her with another one of my questions, she always went out of her way to offer help with a smile.
The students have, for the most part, been nothing but welcoming and eager. Classes have been hectic at times, especially for the volunteers with little teaching experience, but that’s part of the experience and the regular staff members have always gone out of their way to offer assistance. After my second month I was given my own personal Intermediate 1 class and – while I’ll never say this in the classroom itself – all of them have been such incredible students that I feel proud and privileged to have been their teacher.
As a teacher-volunteer, part of your job will also be to take private classes with 1 or 2 (adult) student. These classes are the ones that are most memorable to me. Khaled and Eiman, the government officials who were always ready with a joke and a story (and the occasional cheating attempt when I was playing some games with them) and Wa’el, the traveling doctor with whom I had countless conversations about life and who taught me so much about Hebron and Palestine, I’ll miss them a lot.
Most of all though, I’ll miss ‘the Sheikh’. He started off as our landlord, since the male volunteers rent out his old parental home, but Sheikh, as well as his entire family, have become friends and companions during my stay.

How can this program be improved?
As with all NGOs that rely on volunteers in combination with teachers, the quality of education greatly depends on the quality of the volunteers that arrive at the center. Many of the staff are good and experienced, but some of them are overworked and have to rely extensively on the available volunteers.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Mats,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We appreciate your efforts very much during the last three months. You did a great job helping our Palestinian students develop their English and life skills.

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

Greetings from the entire Excellence Center's staff

Yes, I recommend
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Aleksandra
10/10

Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times

First of all I would like to say that I was the first Latvian visiting the Excellence Center and usually any Palestinian heard nothing about my country and sometimes it started to be very funny to explain where I am from. Nonetheless, I felt some kind of responsibility and honour to bring the part of my culture to the new place and I really hope that I left a good memories and brought a value for these wonderful people in Excellence Center and Palestine.
I would like to start to write my review with a proverb which says: “Better to see something once, than to hear it thousand times.” I consider that these words absolutely applicable for my trip to Palestine.
Now I understand that I did not have any clue about life in Palestine and people living there. Before my arrival to Palestine I had some vague information about the situation in region. The Mass Media usually provides us with uncertain information about Palestine and creates an impression of a dangerous place. Upon my arrival I realized how far away from reality it is.
During my stay in Palestine and Excellence Center I participated in volunteer program “Teach English - Study Arabic”. Part of my job was to assist teachers in English classes, doing the teaching for students of Intermediate level and private lessons.
I got a lot of pleasure working as an English teacher and volunteer. It was a new experience for me and I would like to thank Excellence Center for providing such an opportunity to enrich my experience. As a reward I had Arabic lessons. My Arabic teacher Maryam made the study process especially jouful and fruitful.
The atmosphere in the Center was very joyful and relaxing. The staff is super supportive and welcoming, always ready to help you with everything. Speaking about the Center I can’t not to mention Marwa who is responsible for organization and who cares about every student and volunteer very deeply.
I suppose that every student and volunteer before coming to Palestine asks him or herself about the safety in this country. I can retell only my experience and it was very positive. I did not experience any dangerous situation. I was walking alone by myself along the street of Hebron and I was traveling alone around Palestine and Israel and did not face any problems. Of course, as a foreigner, you have to be ready for an extra attention to your personality from the local Palestinians and sometimes it can seem annoying, but you have to realize that people are just curious or really welcoming.
In conclusion I can add that Palestine is just as any other normal country where people live and just try to be happy and Palestine is a place where you can experience the highest level of hospitality.

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Aleksandra,

Greetings from Palestine. We are very happy to hear that you had a good experience at the Excellence center and in Palestine in general. Thank you so much for your great effort during the month you spent here. We learned a lot from you.

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

With kind

Yes, I recommend

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About The Excellence Center

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...