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

Hi, great question! The monthly fee to participate in the program is $695 (U.S.$). Anything extra you save can go to personal spending and exploring the area! For an estimate of how much you should bring for personal spending we recommend contacting the program provider more details, which you can do here: http://excellencenter.org/volunteer-in-palestine-2/ .
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 96 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 16 - 30 of 96
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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
Default avatar
Annabel
8/10

My Experience in Palestine

After finishing my undergraduate degree in History and Politics, I decided to complete an internship in writing articles for the Excellence Center in Hebron. I thought it would be a good opportunity to gain some experience writing articles, and I was excited to explore more of the West Bank, and to be able to learn some Arabic.

My daily life at the Excellence Center involved writing two articles a day for their website, on topics such as the safety of Palestine, the history of Palestine, and place of interest to visit. I also had two Arabic lessons every week, and I helped to teach two lessons of English a week. Although it wasn’t the focus of my internship, and I hadn’t expected to like it, I especially enjoyed teaching English, so I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to try something new and step out of my comfort zone. I also enjoyed my Arabic lessons. As I knew no Arabic before I arrived, I started from scratch, but I quickly got to grips with the basics, thanks to my teacher, Marwa.

In general, I found the staff, teachers, students and volunteers at the Excellence Center extremely friendly and welcoming. The students were very respectful, and I had a lot of fun hanging out with the other interns and volunteers. We often organised fun things for the evenings, including dinners, smoking shisha and sometimes trips. With the Excellence Center I visited some local factories, and also Farwa refugee camp, which was very eye opening.

The other interns were definitely my support system during my time in Hebron. I did enjoy living in Hebron, but I did experience some culture shock when I first arrived. Unfortunately, I did also experience some harassment as a woman, but in general I felt safe as long as I stuck to common sense rules, such as not walking alone after dark, and dressing conservatively.

I also really liked my host family, and felt extremely safe with them. They were incredibly generous, and always offering me food. They even gave me a ring as a gift before I left, and I’d definitely like to stay in touch with them. The amenities at their house were a bit basic, but the family was so warm and welcoming, I really felt at home there.

While I was staying in Hebron, I visited the sites of Hebron, including the Ibrahimi Mosque, and the local glass and ceramics factory. I also managed to go to Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and Jericho for a couple of days. Jericho was definitely a highlight for me, and I really enjoyed visiting the desert and St. George’s Monastery. I also plan on visiting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Masada before I get my flight home. One of my favourite parts of living in Hebron was living so close to so many interesting historical sites.

How can this program be improved?
I think perhaps it could be better organised, but Palestinian culture is very laid back which is also good in ways.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Annabel,

Thank you for leaving a review. We appreciate your efforts at the Excellence Center very much. We wish you all the best and hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

Greetings from the entire team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
priscilla
10/10

My First Time to Palestine

MY EXPERIENCE IN PALESTINE
My name is Priscilla, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Italy. Two months ago I graduated in interpreting and communication and after that I decided to come to Palestine. I have always had a huge passion for the Middle East and for the Arab culture, (plus my bachelor thesis was about Palestinian refugees after 1948) so I decided to combine all my passions in one trip and the Excellence Centre seemed to be the most appropriate choice. Here I participated at the program ‘teach English and learn Arabic’ and I can say that ithas been a great experience: most of my students were kids and they were so respectful and nice with me. Every time that we had a lesson together they were asking me a lot of questions about my culture and about my country and I was really happy to see that they were really interested in knowing me better. I also had the opportunity to teach in the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar, that was really nice because it was an opportunity to see how Palestinian people live outside the city and to discover more things about the Palestinian culture. I loved going to Beit Ummar, and after the last class one of the students invited me to eat in his house with his family, it was great! Since he knew that I was a vegetarian he cooked everything without meat and at the end of the day his mother gave me a present. We had a really good time together!
At the Excellence Centre I also had the opportunity to learn the Palestinian dialect, and I can say that this was the greatest experience of my journey here. Before coming here I had studied Arabic at university for one year but I wasn’t able to speak it at all, but aftera few weeks of classesI made great progress. Now I can actually speak and talk to people, and that was one of my main goals before coming here. During my stay here, I have lived with a Palestinian family and it has been a great experience. My host mum was great, and her husband and the children as well. Living in a host family is a great experience because you can actually learn more about Palestinian culture, plus it is a great way to improve the Arabic language.
Since I had two days off from the centre I was able to travel a lot around the country: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, the Dead Seaand Nablus. Palestine is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to, the landscape is amazing and the people even more.Before coming here, I was a bit scared;this maybe because I’m a girl, ormaybe because in Europe there is a lot of misinformation about Palestine, but after a few weeks I realized I had nothing to worry about! Palestine is completely safe, people are so friendlyand if they notice that you need help they would do everything possible in order to solve your problem.
The hospitality and kindness of the Palestinian people are one of the things that I have loved,despite the conflict with Israel not being easy, they never lose their happiness and glee and that is one of the things that Ireally admire about them.
In the end, I can say that my experience at the Excellence Centre has been completely positive. I have had the opportunity to learn more about this great country and to meet a lot of people that I will forever remember in my heart.

How can this program be improved?
Response from The Excellence Center

Salam Priscilla,

Greetings to you form the entire team. Thank you so much for your great during the last two months at the Excellence Center. We appreciate so very much.

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

With kind regards,
The Excellence Center in Palestine's team

Yes, I recommend
Leila
10/10

Trip to Palestine

I am Julia, 28, from Berlin, Germany. I participated in the trip to Palestine that was organized by the Excellence Center in August 2017 and spent one week with a host family in Hebron during which I could experience the local culture and explore a lot of sites in Palestine.

We visited many places, starting with the university and nativity church in Bethlehem, as well as the terraces of Battir, the old city and Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron as well as the local factories for shoes, ceramics and kaffeah and the tomb and museum of Arafat in Ramallah. The Excellence Center included me and the other participants of the trip in their mutual activities, like the shared breakfast in the mornings and enabled us to spend time with the other volunteers and locals.

The highlight was the trip to Jericho and the dead sea. Floating in the dead sea is a unique experience that can't be compared to anything else. You have to experience it yourself! On this day we visited also a spring that was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I could have spend the whole day there.

We could also learn a lot about the current living conditions and the circumstances of the conflict, that you can hardly overlook while in Palestine. We were invited to a refugee camp and to the Shuhada street in Hebron and got the chance to talk with people who suffer from abuse by settlers and the army on an almost daily basis. It was heart breaking!

Aside from these very sad problem areas, the general living conditions are good. Even the heat was not as bad as expected as the buildings are cool from the inside and it is usually possible to find places in the shade. As a respectful visitor you have to adapt your clothing and behavior to the local standards and will find yourself very welcome by the open minded Palestinian people.

Staying with a host family is the best way to immerse in the culture and learn about the daily life in this area. I felt very welcome, appreciated and taken care of. My host family even invited me to a family party which was a great experience that taught me a lot about the culture. I enjoyed it very much.

Security was never an issue! Even the controls through Israelis were fewer than expected and although still an unpleasant experience, nothing to be afraid of. In Hebron, I could pass freely although I was only very few times on my own. The Excellence Center staff, my host family and strangers were all very friendly and helpful. I made a lot of new friends and am really happy that I took the chance of this trip. It was an amazing experience that changed the way I see the world.

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Julia,

Greetings to you from the EC's team. We are really happy to hear that you enjoyed the Trip to Palestine 2017. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

All the best in learning Arabic :)

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Saloua
8/10

Experience in Palestine

My name is Saloua, from France, I have a Master's degree in Human Resources. During my stay, I taught English in several places next to Hebron, often in pair with McKayla, an American volunteer. We went to different cities/villages such as: a center at Beit Omer, a school in Seir and at the Chamber of Commerce of al-Dahrya. We noticed that in the schools in which we taught, the students already had notions of English.
The staff from the center is very nice, for all of the courses inside the center like the summer camps, we had Palestinian assistants who were there to help us to translate the hard words which the students couldn’t understand. That was very helpful. The staff is also here to help you when you need some information about different topics. For example if you want to know how to go to a different city or if you want to buy something special, you can ask them. They will help you with pleasure.
The Center organizes some visits for the internationals. We had a schedule displayed in the kitchen of the center with all of the visits. For example, we went to a sandal and a Koffieh factory, to the old city of Hebron, in a camp… That was amazing to visit these places with the other volunteers.
During my stay, I had the chance to visit several important cities as Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus and Jerusalem. It’s really easy to travel inside the West-Bank, you just have to walk or go by taxi at the city center (taxi station), and then ask for the place you want to go. You can easily organize day-trips with other volunteers or members of staff.
Living with a host family is a good way to discover Palestinian culture. If you stay more than four weeks it can be good to change host family for having the chance to discover different ways of life.
Palestinian food is different from food we eat in France. Here they eat lot of chicken and rice, these are the principal food you will eat with your host family. I really loved the food here. The mothers of the host families take time to cook, so you will have the chance to eat several Palestinian dishes. You will see that people here are really welcoming, in addition of the host family you will be invited by others family to have dinner.
I volunteered in July and August, the weather was hot: from 28 to 33 Celsius degrees in Hebron in the afternoon. It’s easily bearable; you just have to bring adequate cloths.
To conclude about my volunteering, I am very happy to have travelled in Palestine

Response from The Excellence Center

Dear Saloua,

Greetings to you from Hebron, Palestine

Thank you so much for your great work during the last two months, we really enjoyed your stay at the Center and appreciate your efforts very much

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

With kind regards from the EC's team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Irene
10/10

Volunteer at Excellence Center Hebron

Would you like to volunteer in Palestine? Would you like to make an impact in the education of Palestinian children? The Excellence Center in Hebron is the place to be!
I have spent two months Teaching English and Learning Arabic in the Excellence Center, and it has been one of the best choices I have ever made. The working environment is really good, and the staff in the Center are nice and loving. I was teaching various groups of children at regular lessons, summer camps and villages near Hebron. Moreover, I also prepared workshops on academic writing, and gave private lessons on IELTS or conversational skills to University students. Apart from this unique experience of engaging with the Palestinian youth, I also learnt Arabic in the best imaginable atmosphere. I had three hours of Arabic lessons a week, and learnt how to read and write! I will definitely continue developing the skills that the Excellence Center gave me the opportunity to learn in the future!
My period in Hebron is filled with beautiful experiences and friendships, and it will always be in my memory and heart. If you are willing to volunteer or learn Arabic I highly recommend you to come to the Excellence Center in Hebron!

How can this program be improved?
Really, it is perfect!
Response from The Excellence Center

Salam Irene,

Thank you so much for everything. You did an amazing work at the Excellence Center this summer 2017. We really appreciate your efforts very much

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

Greetings to you from the entire team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
valentina
8/10

Volunteer at Excellence Center Hebron

My name is Valentina and I come from Italy. I have a degree in law and I participated in a voluntary programme with the Excellence Centre for 2 weeks. I was an assistant during English lessons for children and I underwent a few Arabic lessons with Teacher Dua’a. The environment in the centre is brilliant - the teachers are amazing and the students are both motivated and polite. My colleagues are really helpful and funny!

In Palestine I visited Bethlehem, and the old city in Hebron, which included visiting the Ibrahimi mosque. Whenever I visit these places alone, I felt safe and did not have any problems regarding the locals or the military presence. I can travel freely around these areas. I really love the hospitality of the Palestinian people because I have experienced help and offers everywhere and at anytime here in Palestine. Each in place that I visited, I found some people - children or adults, that offered services to be my guide around when I was visiting. After this short period, I will go back home with great lessons in humanity and how people living in such predicaments can still be hospitable and open to others. I will definitely recommend having an experience in Palestine with the Excellence Centre. Special thanks to my host family for such an amazing and homely experience staying here in Hebron - I sincerely felt like a daughter to the family!

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Valentina,

Greetings to you from the Excellence Center team in Palestine. Thank you so much for your great work at the center. We enjoyed your short stay very much.

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

With kind regard,s

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Niccolo
9/10

My experience with the EC

I am Niccolo’ Costantini and I study Modern Languages and Intercultural Mediation. I am about to finish my first degree and I am now writing my dissertation about Hebrew language and Education in Palestine.

I decided to travel to Palestine for two main reason: the first is personal, the second is academic.
I had visited Palestine before and worked with the Excellence Center. I found them to be very supportive and I had a great time: I met many people from all over the world with whom I am still in contact, not to mention the staff of the Center: when I came back, it seemed like not even a day had passed, and i found the warm and welcoming people that I left last year. I enjoyed this year more than last one as I have by myself, while a year ago I decided to travel with a friend from Italy. I have to admit that travelling by yourself is more productive from some point of view. For example, I was able to practise my Arabic much more as I was not tempted to stick with my friend and speak Italian, and I felt more free and more outgoing with the people.
The second reason is my research. I had to gather information about some issues such as the perception of the Hebrew language in Palestine, the administrative structure of schools and so on. The Center has been very supportive: I had to travel to several cities during my stay in Palestine in order to get the information I needed, and the directress, Marwa, never hesitated to grant me some more days off so that I could do what I had to do. I really appreciate that, and I will be forever thankful for that.

In addition to that, I think that i could spend a word on my stay in the Male Dorms. I found them much better than last year, and I got along with my flatmates. We established meaningful and - inshallah - long-lasting relations and we supported each other. I think that getting along with your flatmates can enhance your experience in Palestine a big deal: whenever I felt homesick or a bit sad they were always there to cheer me up. Once I caught a gastroenteritis which gave me a high fever, vomit and diarrhea. I was feeling very weak and lonely, but my friend volunteered to take me to the hospital and to call the Center for me. I am very grateful for that and I don’t know what I would have done if my flatmate had not been there.

In conclusion, not only did my second experience with the Center satisfy my expectation, it exceeded them. I would definitely recommend anyone to come to Palestine by themselves and let the warmness of al-Khalil take care of them.

How can this program be improved?
Provide better accommodation for boys
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Niccolo,

Greeitngs to you from Hebron. Thank you so much for your wonderful work. WE enjoyed your second stay very much and we appreciate your efforts a lot

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

We wish you also all the success in learning Arabic (You are a native speaker in Arabic)

With kind regards,
EC's Team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
McKayla
10/10

My experience in the Excellence Center

My name is McKayla, from the United States and I am currently studying to obtain a bachelor’s degree in International Studies. At the Excellence Center in Hebron, I participated in the Teach English, Learn Arabic program. For the past two months, I have been teaching English in multiple villages around Hebron. Some of the villages included Se’ir, al-Zaharia, and Beit Umar. Each village and the students in them have been very welcoming and eager to learn. In addition to teaching, each week, I took Arabic courses at the Center with a native speaker. These lessons helped me to enhance my language skills immensely over the course of my time here in Hebron.

The atmosphere in the center is vivid and exciting. Each person’s personality is inviting and not once did I feel uncomfortable or worried about anyone in the center or even in the city. The volunteers who come to Hebron are also very interesting and eager to help in any way they can. Whether they were experienced in teaching or not, by the end of our time here, we had a better grasp on how to create lessons, conduct courses, and engage students in learning. In addition, teaching is a very rewarding experience that can not be compared.

The best part of my experience in Hebron was living with a host family. Everyday I came home to a loving family, a nice place to sleep, and delicious traditional Palestinian dishes. I have made connections with my host family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. They were always patient with me and encouraged me to be apart of their culture. They, along with the center, provided travel advice to each of the places that I traveled to in Palestine. Some of the places I visited were Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nablus. Each place was just as beautiful as the last. I had no problem navigating the city alone nor traveling with just one other woman. When we were lost people were so helpful in leading us to the right places and even put us on taxis and buses. As far as safety as is concerned, I feel safer in Palestine than in the U.S.

My favorite thing about Palestine is knowing that no matter where you are, you are welcomed and you are safe. If you ever needed anything people would be willing to offer you their last food, their house, or their time. I wish I could share with you my favorite experience, but my favorite things all include meeting new people, trying new foods and always feeling like I am welcomed. The weather is agreeable (in the shade), the food is exceptional, the people are more than happy to meet you and share their culture as well as learn about yours.

I have already been planning my trip back to Palestine (even with my mom). Therefore, this is an experience I highly recommend and I can promise you will be addicted and come back every year! So don’t hesitate to come to visit Palestine because you will not regret it!

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi McKayla,

Thank you so much for your great job. We really appreciate very much what you did at the center during the last 2 months. It was also great to have you at the center. We wish to meet you in the future

We wish you all success in learning Arabic as well

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine

No, I don't recommend
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Giulia
10/10

Volunteer Programe in Palestine - Hebron

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

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,

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Mariam
9/10

Internship programme in Palestine

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

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,

Yes, I recommend
Tataki
7/10

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

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
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Tataki,

Greetings to you. Thank you so much for your great work at the center. We appreciate so very much

Thank you also for your suggestion, we will take it into consideration

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

With kind regards,

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...