Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine

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Join Our Family in Palestine and Germany

Welcome to the Excellence Center: People who are between 18 – 75 years old are eligible to participate in all of our programs in Palestine and Germany. All nationalities and majors are welcome! You do not have to have any degree to join us. The Excellence Center hosts internationals year-round. Participants decide when they would like to start and end their programs. We are very flexible when it comes to starting and ending dates.

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

I don't know for certain what the age limits are, but when I was there I met people from their early twenties to seventies. You don't need to have teaching experience as far as I know. They seem very willing to work with whatever level of experience you have. It is helpful to know some Arabic before you go. I didn't know any and it was difficult at times, especially with my host family, but not...
Hi, thanks for reaching out! We don't have the details on our site for classes. To learn more we recommend contacting the program provider directly to learn more! This helpful link will take you right to their contact info: http://excellencenter.org/contact-us/ .
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/ .

Reviews

92%
based on 117 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.7
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 16 - 30 of 117
Caroline
9/10

Great time in Hebron

Hello, my name is Caroline, I am a 22 years old French Canadian and am about to finish a ten weeks stay in Hebron after graduating from a bachelor’s degree in communication and political science.
During my stay here, I have participated in the TESA program (Teach English, Learn Arabic), meaning that would teach three English classes twice a week to Beginner to Intermediate groups of Palestinians students aged from 8 to 40 years old, as well as learn Arabic in a one one class setting three hours per week.
Although three hours of thought lesson is not enough to master a difficult language such as Arabic, I was fortunate enough to be placed with a wonderful Palestinian host family for which most members spoke enough English for me to communicate with them, but who were also eager to help me develop my spoken Arabic skills. Living with a host family was then amazing to practice the local dialect, but also to fully be immersed in the culture and the daily local life. In that sense, spending the last two weeks of Ramadan here in Hebron was probably one the best part of my trip, as I got to experience the practice of fasting, iftar, sehoor, and Eid with my host family and their extended relatives. Keeping from eating and drinking during the day to the sides of my Palestinian colleagues during the day and breaking fast with my family at night was a very fulfilling experience, I have learnt so much about myself as well as the Palestinian/Muslim way of life.
My lovely time spent with my host family being said, the people I have met at the Excellence Center have also contributed to the positive look I have on my stay in Palestine. The Center’s permanent staff was more than welcoming and helpful throughout the whole time I have spent here, my students were amazing and eager not only to learn English, but also to invite me into their thoughts and lives in Palestine, and last but not least, my fellow volunteers became my closest friends. Together, and many times with the permanent teachers of the Center, we have visited multiple places in Hebron, such as the municipality, the Chamber of Commerce, the plastic factory, the old city and the Alfawar refugee camp, as well as other cities around the West Bank, my favorite being Bethlehem.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lucy
10/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

My name is Lucy, and I’m a History of Art student from the UK, living in Hebron as a volunteer English teacher for a month. As my time at the Excellence Centre draws to a close, I can reflect back on the amazing experiences I have had, as well as the friendships and understanding I have gained along the way.
Primarily, I spent my days teaching beginner English classes, both as a teaching assistant in the Excellence Centre itself, and with another volunteer in a village on the outskirts of Hebron. These classes, whilst daunting at first – never having been faced with a classful of young student with limited English before, blossomed into hours spent with young people who not only had an appetite for learning that I’ve never experienced before, but were also eager to engage in conversation about their lives and culture outside the classroom; whether when walking me to the bus back to Hebron, or giving me directions when I bumped into them in the street.
The atmosphere at the centre really gelled the experience together – the kitchen at the centre of the building was rarely empty, and the mountain of bread and hummus provided for breakfast never failed to help the volunteers recover from the late Palestinian bedtimes (complete with regular coffee breaks at 1am if you’re brave enough…).
Not only are the staff at the Excellence Centre overwhelmingly welcoming, they provide an excellent insight into Palestinian daily life, and the politics of Hebron. I attended a tour of the Old City by a teacher at the centre, and was lucky enough to not only visit the Ibrahimi mosque, but also a house of a local living in the Old City, and hear his stories about the occupation, and a true taste of what Palestinian life in Hebron involves.
Every weekend I made it my mission to travel somewhere new in Palestine; and have amassed a series of barely believable adventures from Bethlehem to the Dead Sea, and will leave the Excellence Centre with not only photographs and souvenirs, but also lifelong friendships from all over the world.
I could not have wished for a better host family to spend the month with – from being welcomed into their home as family from the first day, and taken to graduation parties and picnics, and treated like a true ‘Khalili’ (Hebronite). They made sure that the Arabic lessons I had at the centre – which provided me with the grammar and language I needed to get by in day-to-day life, was enriched by daily vocab lessons from my various host siblings – meaning that I can now talk about football, food, and cats in great detail…but not a whole lot else.
The one thing I will miss most about Hebron, other than the friends that I have made, is the attention I received on the street. Not negative attention in any way, but the locals that go out of their way to welcome internationals, and find out more about where they are from through genuine interest – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been invited into shops or homes, or given coffee on the street, by people genuinely wanting to get to know me, and help me have the best experience possible.
I would recommend the Excellence Centre to anyone who wants to see Hebron, and Palestine as a whole, from a genuine local perspective, who is willing to immerse themselves completely in another culture – and definitely anyone who is up for an adventure.

Yes, I recommend this program
Pato
10/10

Unforgetable expierence

My name is Maria Agustina Mansilla and I came from Argentina to do the Medicine and Healthcare program during two weeks in the Excellence Center. We organized a coursed with midwifery students of the Hebron University with a total of 4 workshops where we talked about medical vocabulary, pregnancy physiology, communication skills and bioethics. It was an honor for me to share with each other our knowledge and it was a very interesting and enriching experience. I shared with them my knowledge but at the same time we encouraged ourselves in our careers, we shared details of us, we got to know each other and we enjoyed together discussing clinical cases and medical ethical dilemmas.
Concerning my program I also had the chance to visit the Al Ahlil Hospital in Hebron where the staff kindly showed me their work place and they introduced me in the medical situation of Palestine. Also I had the chance to visit the Hebron University where I specially visited the laboratories, the library and the amazing Media college where the students have the opportunity of learning journalism with real radio and television studios.
Apart from my volunteering I had classes to improved my Arabic with the kind, patient, creative and interesting Ahlam. With her I didn’t only learned Arabic but also learned about Palestine, the life here, their culture, costumes, flowers, food, etc. She is an example of the strong, educated and kind women that live in Palestine.
Every day I came from my host family home to the Old Center to do my activities. Located near the city center of Hebron, every morning we start our day by having traditional breakfast together with “shai”, bread, hummus, cheese, olive oil and spices. But the Center is not only the volunteers and the staff, every day while being in the center we have lot of conversations with all the people that is around, students, mothers of students, local teachers, friends, etc. In the Center everyone is welcomed and being here we get to know a lot of citizens from the city and near villages.
In my two weeks here I visited Bethlehem with two volunteers and one day I took my day off to go the beach in Jaffa. The last Friday I went to Ramallah and the Dead Sea with my host family and staff from the Center. We shared a barbeque steering to the Dead Sea, we swam, we heard to music, we went to Arafat's Museum and to the Mahmud Darwish Museum. And we ended our day steering the magical city of Jericho from the high mountains near the Teleferic.
During my visit here I stayed in a village called Bait Ummar near Hebron with the family of Ibrahim and Fatina. Them and their sons and daughter Shuruq were my family for two weeks. I got to know their family, I ate Fatina’s amazing arabic food, I ate the figs from their garden, I talked in Arabic with Iusef and I played with the amazing little Mohamed. Also we shared long conversations with shisha, tea and music every night after our work.
Palestine is a beautiful country, the landscapes are stunning and the energy is unbelievable but what truly embellish the country is the people. I made friends in the Center and in Bait Ummar that made every minute an absolute amusement and joy. They opened their houses and their heart to make my days absolutely special. Here it's impossible to go to a place and not be received with the phrase: Ahlan u Sahlan fy Falestine.
Concerning to the safety, even if Palestine has a lot of problems I never felt fear. I think that as long as fear does not reign in Palestine, it is impossible to be scared. Also everyone took care of me as if I were from their family.
I arrived to Palestine without any expectations and I didn’t know what I was going to see here but I have to say I have been surprised by an amazing country with a lot of potential to grow with happy, generous, welcoming, educated and with a lot of love and dedication to their country people I expect to never forget how amazed, welcomed and happy I was here.

Yes, I recommend this program
Hannes
9/10

My experience after 1 month in Palestine

Experience in Palestine

Hello, my name is Hannes and I am about to finish a month of working at the Excellence Center in Hebron. I am 19 years old and I am studying Arabic and Islamic Studies in my home country, Belgium. I participated in the volunteering program of the Excellence Center where I taught English to children but I also had the opportunity to take some private Arabic lessons.

In the English classes I assisted a local teacher with teaching to 7 – 12 year old kids. I didn’t have any teaching experience but you get in the flow quite naturally. I also gave some individual classes to older students on several occasions. The focal point of these lessons was mostly placed on the speaking of the language, so I tried to teach the kids a native pronunciation of English, even though I’m not a native speaker.

The private Arabic lessons are particularly helpful because they are private, and for that reason adjusted to your own knowledge and skills. I just finished my first year of university so I had a basis of standard Arabic (Fusha) to start with and learn the Palestinian dialect. My teacher knew what I could and could not handle and taught me a fair bit of Arabic in the small amount of time I spent here. I also tried to pick up some Arabic of the streets, which worked to a certain extent. Girls/women definitely had an easier time learning Arabic because they have the change to stay with a Palestinian host family. The guys stay together at an apartment, which is conveniently located in the city.

During my stay here I could take some days off to visit the country. I went with some other volunteers and Arabic students on a trip to various cities like Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Akko. I even had the chance to hop over to the Jordanian side of the border and visit Petra and Wadi Rum. In the city of Hebron itself it is really interesting to visit the ancient religious sites like the Ibrahimi Mosque and the neighboring synagogue. Hebron is particularly interesting because the city is divided in an Arab and a Jewish part.

I felt quite safe here in Palestine, more than I expected at least. People on the street are very friendly as they are not very used to interacting with foreigners, and will try and talk to you or ask you to have coffee with them. Especially for guys, you don’t have to worry about walking around late at night on the streets or taking taxi’s. Women should take a little more care, but I feel like that goes for every country or city.

The thing I liked most in Palestine is probably the hospitality I just mentioned. As a foreigner you feel very welcome which makes blending in a lot easier. I also just like being emerged in a culture that is quite different from the one I’m used to.
My favorite experience I had in Palestine was probably when me and some other volunteers got invited on the roof of a tall apartment building, which had an amazing view of the city. Also just hanging around with the volunteers made for some very interesting moments and conversations.

The Excellence Center is doing a very good job at teaching English to kids, teenagers and adults who don’t really get the chance to interact with foreigners. A lot of Palestinian people are therefore eager to get educated in any way. I would recommend the Excellence Center to people all over the world, as they provide you with everything you need to have a nice and interesting stay in Palestine.

Finally, I feel like coming here has had great influence on me and on the way I will view Palestine and its people. The images we make in our heads of places like this, with western media as our only source, are so different from how daily life here exists as it does. I will remember the Palestinians for their hospitality and openness to foreigners, while they still manage to cherish their own culture and traditions. I feel like this is a place where I will come back later in my life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Archie
10/10

Human Rights program at Excellence Centre, Hebron

My name is Archie and I have just finished the Human Rights program at the Excellence Centre. I am currently at the University of Leeds, UK, reading Middle Eastern Studies. I have been in Hebron for two weeks.
At the Excellence Centre, I have had Arabic lessons and given classes on Human Rights and in English. I have also been on various trips with members of the centre to places such as Bethlehem.
I have had four beginners Arabic lessons which have been really useful I am now able to introduce myself and get by. The quality of teaching is of a very high standard.
The Excellence Centre’s environment is amazing. The staff and teachers are incredibly helpful and welcoming, they are also really nice people. The Palestinian students are all keen to learn, polite and fun. There is a broad mix of international volunteers coming from all over the world. I have made good friends during my time here.
We visited the Hebron glass and cloth factories. A trip to Ramallah, Jericho and the Dead Sea was organized which was very fun! I have been to Bethlehem twice, seeing the Church of the Nativity and also the Banksy wall – a must see. The Old City in Hebron is very interesting as one can directly see the impact of the settler occupation.
I have been living with the other male volunteers in an apartment at the house of Sheikh Abid. It is a good place to stay and a good place to relax. Hebron itself is the most iconic Palestinian city and if you are looking to fully immerse yourself in Palestinian life, then Hebron is the place to go.
Safety and security is an important topic. Throughout my stay in Palestine, as a male, I have felt completely safe. I have never felt that I have been in danger. It is safer to walk through Hebron at night than it is to walk through Leeds in the UK.
I cannot decide what I like most about Palestine because all aspects are so good. The food is really good, and very affordable, especially in Hebron. The weather is hot but good! A nice change from British weather – sun cream is important. The people and their hospitality are amazing. They are so much more welcoming than the people of Europe.
My lasting impression of Palestine is the character of the Palestinian people. They are so friendly and hospitable despite what has been imposed upon them by Israel. My overall experience has been amazing and I will never forget it. I am studying a politics related degree and so this trip has been very informative. I would definitely recommend to absolutely everyone. Go to Palestine!

Yes, I recommend this program
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David
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

I have always enjoyed visiting 'difficult' areas so that I can see for myself what's going on. Volunteering in these areas is even better, where not only can you speak to people directly but you can give some useful help.

The opportunity at the Excellence Center provided all of this. Colleagues, now friends, and I were able to help young Palestinian people (and American/Canadian volunteer friends!) with English, which not only helps them access a much wider range of education and entertainment opportunities, but enables a sort of peaceful resistance through education. I learnt a lot about their culture too, which after understanding a few etiquette barriers, is not that much different to the UK. I picked up a little Arabic too but I only had a week here so not as much as I wanted.

I have met some lovely people and seen their difficulties and humour first-hand. I have also visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and eaten a lot of chicken and rice...

It's been a great experience and I very much want to return. I thoroughly recommend this.

How can this program be improved?
Some better organisation, I thought some free time could have been used better. Though the general rule is that "everything happens, but not when you are told it will!"
Yes, I recommend this program
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Patrick
9/10

A stint at the Excellence Centre

Volunteering at the Excellence Centre provides one with invaluable experiences, from meeting local people to making use of one's skills to impact the local community. My stay here was brief and so it is difficult to comment on the overall impact. My only quibble would be that it would help volunteers if a schedule were given to them soon after they arrive (perhaps they could be given some indication of what their work will entail). That said, I have conducted a teacher-training session, sung action songs with children from a village nearby, had Arabic language lessons, team-taught a class of intermediate students, etc., so only as small quibble in the great scheme of things. Volunteering here will allow one to have many learning experiences and opportunities for personal growth. The highlight of my stay here was meeting and chatting to local people - every day brings a surprise :)

How can this program be improved?
Please see above
Yes, I recommend this program
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Steve
10/10

Volunteer at the Excellence Center

I have been with The Excellence Center here in Hebron, Palestine for the month of June 2018 and I am so happy I chose this organisation to come with. It offers a great balance of learning, contributing and enjoying yourself. I have been helping to run classes mainly in basic English but also games and activities with the children and even things like helping university students with their CV's. But you also get time off and you're going on trips and doing all sorts of other things as well.

Something important that I would mention is that I have been to over 20 countries and Palestine is probably the safest (for tourists). The people here are so friendly, kind, welcoming and hospitable, it had been a fantastic experience.

I would encourage anybody and everybody who is thinking about coming to book with the Excellence Center now.

:-)

How can this program be improved?
Flexibility is good but more organised schedules and timetables provided ahead of time would be ideal.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Luke
9/10

Luke Oades’ Review

I spent 2 weeks volunteering in Hebron in March at very short notice (I was already in Palestine at the time), with Rafat and all the staff being extremely accommodating and welcoming of me in every possible way. The volunteering schedules allowed for very worthwhile work whilst also ensuring enough free time to explore Hebron. The other volunteers were always both amazingly friendly and very interesting, and the house I shared with the other male volunteers was lovely and very well-located.

It was a truly eye-opening experience in so many ways, and all of the trips that Excellence Center organised (such as to the keffiyeh factory, al-Ibrahimi mosque and the ceramics factory) enabled me to explore parts of Palestinian society that I otherwise may never have considered. The locals were often just as welcoming as those involved with the Center, and I spent many fun evenings outside of the Center with some of the students that I had been working with.

There were periods when there were tensions in the Old City of Hebron due to escalations between Israel and Gaza, but nonetheless any violence is generally very localised and possible to avoid if you so wish. All in all, I had the most fantastic time imaginable and I’m extremely thankful to Osama, Rafat, Ahlam and all the wonderful staff, volunteers and others that made this such a fascinating trip. Thanks a lot!

How can this program be improved?
I think that forming greater links between volunteers and other charitable organisations working in Hebron could allow for those with free time to help out even more on the side if they would like to.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Matt
9/10

Volunteer at the Excellence Center

My name is Matt. I’m from Utah, USA and I’m studying Information Systems at Brigham Young University. I had a wonderful experience at the Excellence Center in Hebron. I did the month-long internship program here at the Center. It was incredible. I didn’t know any Arabic at all when I came, but the instruction was really helpful and I was able to hold a conversation by the end of my time here. The staff do a great job creating a friendly and comfortable environment. They were very accommodating with our schedule, allowing us to explore the things we wanted to while still giving us responsibilities and opportunities to serve. They’ve become my good friends and I’m sure we’ll stay in contact. I got to go see Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and even took time to go to Petra, Jordan. Almost everyone is really friendly here and wants to help you feel welcome. I felt safe throughout my time here and I’ve so much enjoyed seeing daily life here. The Palestinians are a happy people, even in the face of many difficulties. My favorite experience here was getting chased by on ostrich in the town of Kharas. True story! Palestine has left a lasting impression on me of really good people and a vibrant lifestyle. I’m so glad I came and would recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure.

Yes, I recommend this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program

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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...