Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine
91% Rating
(86 Reviews)

Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine

Join Our Family in Palestine in Summer 2018

All nationalities and majors are welcome to apply for all of our programs. 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. You can come to Palestine from 1 week to 6 months.

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.

Weeks Min.
Weeks Max
Age Min.
Age Max
Small Group (1-15)
Medium Group (16-30)
Host Family
Price Details
The program fees include: pre-departure support, accommodations with a host family, some of the Meals, full coordination while volunteering in Palestine, 3 hours per week of Arabic lessons, and some visits to different sites in the city of Hebron.

Questions & Answers

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

Program Reviews

based on 86 reviews
  • Impact 8.7
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 31 - 45 of 86
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Wonderful Time in Hebron

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Jamie,

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

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

Greetings from Hebron

Yes, I recommend
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The over-all best way to learn Arabic!

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

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Tanya,

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend
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My time at The Excellence Center: A summary

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Eleanor,

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

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

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine

Yes, I recommend
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Excellence Center Review

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

How can this program be improved?

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Emma,

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

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

Greetings from Palestine

Yes, I recommend
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My Time in Hebron

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Stephen,

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

"Isbur Ya Stephen"

Greeting from Palestine

Yes, I recommend
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My First Overseas Volunteer Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Syazana,

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

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend
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My First Time Staying in Hebron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can this program be improved?

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

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Khairunisa,

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

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend
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Experience of a lifetime

My name is Javier Trescoli, 24 year old political science student from Valencia, Spain. I participated in the Teach English, Learn Arabic (TESA) for two months, March and April. My main interest was being somehow useful, start learning Arabic and to see first hand the reality of the Palestinian -Israeli conflict. I will leave in a few days with recious memories, new friends and the promise of coming back.

The experience has been brilliant, far better than expected. I didn't have many expectations to be honest, as I simply did not know what to expect! But taking in account where I was going and what I was doing it was unavoidable to have some kind of idea of what it could or should be.

My arrival did go a bit off. Oblivous me decided to use the Israeli bus line to Hebron becuase it was cheaper instead of following the clear instructions that Rafat sent me and that were there for a areason. I'll just say I was stuck in Israeli Hebron for a few hours. But thanks to Marwa and Rafat I got out of there (the IDF wouldn't let me pass the controls). I was happily received by Sheikh and thus, the real adventure in Hebron began.

From day one, the Center helps you adapt to the rythm and activities, which is constant and dynamic. It's simple to feel good vibes from the very beginning and this helps you be energetic and creative! The sense of community and belonging starts with the daily breakfast and the Center and it reinforced once I got a regular schedule. The fact the staff were so welcoming and predisposed to make you feel comfortable and the students get so excited when a you walk in class, makes it really easy to adapt quickly and enjoy fully the experience! As a volunteer, I understood I belonged to the organisation and adapted as soon as possible to its pace. Nevertheless, Marwa, (the boss who likes joking!), was ready to listen to my issues or complaints and was flexible about picking free days, which improves the experience itself.

As a volunteer, my activities were many and varied at the beginning, from assisting one of the teachers in their classes, leading a class myself, organising a workshop for a business and a English Club. Each one had their own challenges and I remember everything being kinda chaotic in my head. Everyday was a different adventure and you were constanty in new situations, which personally, was pretty exciting for me. But after a week and a half later, I got a more stable schedule. I began teaching with a fellow volunteer three different levels on a weekly basis and participated in their lessons with fellow teachers. It is rewarding to spend six or seven weeks teaching the same class because it deepens the relationship with the students, making the classes far more enjoyable. Of course, there were a few kids who made teaching difficult but this proved useful to develop class managemnt skills, a quite relevant aspect of teaching and one I had not needed as I had always been a private tutor back in Spain.

As for my Arabic, it wasn't only an enrichening experience from a knowledge perspective but also from a cultural and personal point of view. I was specially lucky with my teacher, Du'a, who was very encouraging and quickly saw my particular style of learning and adapted herself to it. Thanks to her, I can say that I will leave Palestine with the my initial objective accomplished with Arabic. Sadly, I feel because of my university work and a lack of disicipline I wasn't able to make the most of learning the language. If you systematically practice and work at home, it can be very easy to progress. Nothing like living in a country to learn the language.

As for life in Hebron it can be quite conservative, even for Palestinian standards, as you will notice when you visit other towns in the West Bank, such as Ramallah and Bethlehem. The change can be very drastic if one lives in a never sleeping city from the West. There is no such thing as nightlife and anything associated to it, but don't worry, you won't need it! I lived in a house with other male volunteers which is rented to the Excellence Center and it has developed into a great bro community and I leave Hebron hoping to see them again. Any issue that was house related was diligently taken care by Abbot Sheikh. He also makes whatever is possible to make your life as enjoyable and comfortable as possible, inviting you to his house for shisha and tea, specially during important football games. His smile never fails to cheer me up.

One of the main concerns, if not the most worrying, for any volunteer might be the Israeli Occupation of Hebron specifically and Palestine in general. This is a reasonable concern as Western media and general public perception portray the situation as highly unstable and risky. Nevertheless, this is not the case.

Don't get this statement wrong. The Occupation is a real issue and affects the daily lives and routine of every Palestinian in an unjust and unfair manner but it never gets to affect the daily lives and routine of the volunteer themselves (unless you did something wrong). The Occupations does not affect directly the Western volunteers. We have no problems crossing checkpoints, the laws that rule Palestinians don't affect us and we are even considered as individuals that must be protected by Israeli authorities. Hebron itself, (aside from H2, the Israeli occupied part) is safe for any volunteer as I soon noticed arriving there.

The best of Palestine are clearly, without doubt, the people. All of this would have been a completely different experience if the Palestinians would have had a different attitude towards me. From the butcher who invites you to tea and the baker who asks where you are from and gets excited when you respond in Arabic; to the driver of the minibus who makes sure you arrive safely to your destination and the random strangers who will do their honest best to help you in any way possible; to lastly, the students, especially those who put real effort to learn english and invite you to their homes to meet their families aswell as the teachers and staff, who are always helpful and genuinely concerned about you, which with time made me develop a feeling of connection and belonging to the Hebron community at large and to the Excellence Center in particular.

I did not travel around Palestine, which will be one of my objectives for the next time I come back. Because I enjoyed so much the small community of the Excellence Center I preferred to stay there the last week and enjoy furthermore the experience. I personally reccommend the experience to anybody ready to live what it is to be an English teacher in Palestine. I t may seem redundant what I have just said but what I'm really talking about is the mindset. Your mindset can make a total difference between a great experience and a forgettable one. I look forward to coming back to the Excellence Center in Hebron. Inshallah!

Yes, I recommend
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Life changing experience

We are 2 sisters (Sahar and Shahoudah) from Mauritius Island and we have been Teaching English and Learning Arabic as volunteers at the Excellence Center for 2 weeks. Before coming to Palestine, we sometimes felt anxious about how to reach and live in Palestine and Hebron safely. Mr Rafat Shantir has always been assisting us in the procedures and necessary information through Skype, emails and WhatsApp until we reach. On reaching Palestine on the first day itself, we felt overwhelmed by the sceneries of the country and the hospitality of the people and realized that we had unnecessary worries before coming and that our stay would be too short.
The staff of the EC were both professional and friendly at the same time and thus creating a pleasant working environment. We were introduced to our host family on the first day at the EC and met the other international volunteers. Teaching and learning takes place through activities at the EC, outside the EC and in partnership with other schools in the region for different levels of students. During the two weeks, we have been to Kharas and some other schools to teach English. We have also been to the Hebron Polytechnic University for a workshop on the Spelling Bee Competition. The experience was always a win-win situation for both the students and us. Students could learn from us and we also learn so much from them about their culture and about things we would not get to know on Palestine through the media.
At the EC, the lesson usually starts within the classroom and ends with practical exercises about real life situations outside the classroom. There is also an English Club at the EC in which we could help students practice conversational English. One of the activities conducted was to teach students how to order food/ drink in a coffee shop or restaurant. The lesson started in class and continued in a coffee shop or visiting a hotel (Plaza hotel). The students in Hebron are always keen about learning the English language and other cultures. The motivation of the pupils also motivated us to give the best of ourselves not only to teach but to teach with our hearts.
We also had Arabic classes with Mariam, an Arabic teacher, at the EC. The level of our Arabic was very basic and Mariam could make learning Arabic more fun. At the end of the 2 weeks we could easily negotiate prices while shopping or with the taxi driver in Arabic. We could also converse with some words with students in Arabic.

Fridays are holidays in Palestine and we are given one day off per week at the EC. We thought that we would not have enough time to visit in the nearby region or socialize with other more people. But the EC caters for the internationals volunteers and organize regular outings from the Centre with other internationals e.g we have been at the Al Maskobiya Church, Camel Shop. Our host family also caters for our stay in Hebron. We were accompanied to the Old city of Hebron and Ibrahimi Mosque on our day off. On Fridays, we have been to Jerusalem and we could also visit Jericho during our short stay. All the places were physically and spiritually beautiful. We neither felt lonely nor unsafe at any time because Palestinians are always enthusiastic to help and give details about the history of the country. Palestine is a country which cannot be understood neither in books nor internet but only by experiencing it.

Yes, I recommend
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My Palestine experience

I'm a University student from Germany and I volunteered at the Excellence Center for one month.
My main task was supporting the English teachers with their classes at the Center. I would practice discussion questions with the students, help with colloquial exams or do short presentations about German or Western traditions and food. A lot of times I went to high schools in nearby villages where I taught together with another volunteer. We were able to prepare and hold a lot of those classes on our own, dividing the lesson in a theoretical part and a game part where the students had the chance to practice what they’ve just learnt in a more fun and interactive way. Additionally I did a few one-on-one conversational classes with older students at the Center.
Twice a week I had Arabic lessons with one of the teachers from the Center. I always enjoyed the classes and felt like they were very effective, focusing only on conversational skills that I could apply and practice right away during my daily life with my host family.I chose to learn the Palestinian dialect so that I would be able to communicate with the locals. Apart from these classes I learnt a lot just by being around my host family or trying to talk to taxi drivers, shop keepers or people on the streets. As I wasn’t a complete beginner, but had a good basis from Arabic classes at home I felt like I could definitely collect a lot of new vocabulary and learn how to have basic small-talk conversation. Apart from that, one month is not enough to make any major progress if you don’t commit to studying Arabic full time. But my time here gave me a lot of motivation to keep going and improve my Arabic skills at home.
At the Excellence Center I likedthe relaxed atmosphere and friendly relationship between the volunteers and the teachers. Sitting together for breakfast or coffee between classes in the kitchen or on the rooftop has become something I was looking forward to every day. Being around other volunteers and sharing with them the experiences you make with your host family and hearing about what they experience was very important to me and the communal spirit among the Internationals definitely contributed to the positive atmosphere at the Center. Also the staff was very supportive and I always felt comfortable talking to them about any problems or questions that came up during my stay. The students seemed very excited about the foreigners and a lot of times during the breaks they came to say Hi, shake your hand or take pictures with you. I would not have thought that so many people here are so passionate and motivated about learning English.
From time to time, the Center organized trips around the city to show us the local businesses and cultural sites.I went on a tour to the Ceramic, Clothes and Camel Factories and another time one of the teachers took us to the Old City of Hebron and told us about the complex situation between the soldiers and Palestinians that still live there. Apart from that, on the weekends I did a lot of trips with the other volunteers. We visited Jericho and the ruins of Hisham’s Palace, Bethlehem and the wall, Jerusalem, Nablus and Jenin. The shared taxis are an easy and considerably cheap way to get around on your own. In some places, like Jericho, it is better to have someone take you with a car. With my host family I spent one day at the Dead Sea doing a barbecue, which was a great experience as well.
Living in Hebron definitely took some getting used to for me, but after a couple of weeks, once I had a better orientation of the central areas and figured out the taxi system, I felt more comfortable. Especially the Old City with the Ibrahim Mosque, the market and Tel Rumeida are very interesting and beautiful places to visit. Being here gives you the opportunity to learn a lot about the occupation and the current situation between Palestinians, settlers and soldiers, which is a sad, but significant part of life in the Westbank. The host family can make or break your volunteering experience, as you will probably spend a lot of time with them. Family in general plays a huge role in a Palestinian’s life, so during your time there you will probably meet a lot of uncles, aunts, cousins and sisters or brothers in law. Therefor it’s important to feel comfortable around them and if you don’t, to tell the people at the Center. This is why I decided to change host family after one week and have been very happy with my new one. I really enjoy spending time with them in the evening, eating and watching TV or going out for dinner to a restaurant or a relative’s place. Being around the family in the house is also the perfect way to practice Arabic vocabulary that learn during class.
I was a bit concerned about the security situation and about not being able to walk around freely at all or experiencing incidents between Palestinians and soldiers on the streets. But after I got to know the city I felt safe and walking around Hebron during daytime turned out to not be a problem at all. Knowing the directions in Arabic or having someone write them down for me helped a lot to avoid confusion with the taxi drivers. I was surprised that travelling inside Palestine was not an issue at all. Anywhere I’ve went so far, service drivers and people on the streets were very considerate and always ready to help when I didn’t know how to get from A to B and happy to practice their English with me. Also traveling to Israel for the weekend is no problem at all when going through Jerusalem. The only thing that I always had to keep in mind were the Palestinian and Israeli holidays to make sure I don’t get stuck on the way, as I was traveling on Friday and Saturday most of the time.
I think what I came to appreciate the most about Palestine is the hospitality of the people that start treating you as part of the family right away. Of course I loved the food, like hummus and pita and the traditional Makhluba. Being with the other volunteers at the Center, traveling with them on the weekends and sharing with them all the new experiences was very important to me as well.
I do believe that volunteering with the Excellence Center and living with a host family gives volunteers a unique opportunity to dive into the Palestinian culture and learn spoken Arabic while contributing to the community of Hebron. The two days off during the week are a perfect amount of time to travel around the area and explore Palestine together with other volunteers. The best recommendation that I can give to future volunteers is to take any chance to engage with the locals, try to speak as much Arabic as possible and ask questions if you’re curious about certain things. You might be surprised about their openness and their generosity. At the same time being able to clearly communicate when you don’t feel comfortable with something and to not be afraid of insulting them by not accepting every offer is just as important in order for you to make the best of your time here in Palestine.

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked to be able to spend more time with them during the week, having a sort of common room where we could have hung out on Friday or Thursday nights would have been great. Another thing that might be a good idea to implement is a guide line about the cultural differences and a few advice, especially for girls, how to behave around men in order to avoid misunderstandings. I would have wished to know about certain things beforehand that I was told after a while by family members or other volunteers.

Yes, I recommend
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My first time to Hebron

This was my first time to Hebron and I only had a short stay while I was in town. I was running a small academic project in which I was interviewing English teachers in Palestinian educational institutions to learn about their experiences and I was lucky enough to have learned about the Excellence Center online.

Hebron is my penultimate place to visit in Palestine (I have been here for about 10 days in which I visited Ramallah and Nablus) and one thing I am struck by is how courteous and generous the people have been. I would say that my experiences of just going-around and meeting people has been quite positive. I have been to a number of other Arab countries before (mainly in the Gulf) but I think my visit to Palestine is going to be the most memorable. I've been having very warm and friendly conversations with people at pretty much every turn.

The foreign volunteers here are very motivated to learn Arabic and they work very hard to plan their English lessons. As for the Center's Palestinian teachers, they were very enthusiastic and I was happy to get a chance to meet and interview them. They care about their students, which is probably the most important part of a school. All in all, I think the Center looks dedicated to its work and they care about their students.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hi Dean,
Thank you so much for leaving a review. We are glad that you enjoyed your time in Hebron, Palestine.

We hope to see you in the future at the Excellence center and in Palestine.

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend
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My experience in Palestine

My name is Lucie and I am originally from the Czech Republic. I graduated 3 years ago and I have a Masters degree in Civil Engineering and Architecture. I decided to come to Palestine as a volunteer because I have always been interested in Arabic culture. Since I was already working in Tunis, I wanted to get some experiences in the Middle East. Joining the Excellence center seemed to me the best option for discovering the culture, and doing something useful for the local people. As a volunteer, I participated in different activities such as workshops at the universities, assisting with English classes, and teaching private English lessons. It was really great experience to see the motivation of the locals to learn English. Sometimes it was a challenge to keep them quiet, but as soon as we switched to some games or interesting topics, we always had a lot of fun together in our lessons. And all the students were really nice and enthusiastic about learning English. All the volunteers had Arabic lessons twice a week with a local teacher. I think those lessons were very efficient as they were “one to one,” so the teacher could adjust the lesson according to your requirements. I think my Arabic definitely improved during my 6 weeks in Palestine.
The Center environment is nice, they take care of the internationals and help you with everything that you need. As Friday is the day off in Hebron, the Excellence Center sometimes organizes the trips around the country to show the internationals other places outside of the city. Accommodation in Hebron depends on your gender. As a girl,I lived with a host family. I think it was very interesting to see how the local families live, and join their lifestyle on a daily basis. My family was very welcoming, and always took me with them to visit their relatives or neighbors. Whenever I needed any help they were here for me. I think it was a unique experience to see how the Palestinian people live, and you could not see this lifestyle as a tourist living in a hotel. I am really grateful for the adventurous life in Hebron. Generally, there is nothing dangerous about going to Palestine, although as a woman you need to be more careful. For example, I avoided speaking with random men on the street or with taxi drivers a lot, especially after the sunset. They are all very nice people but they are not used to the foreigners. So sometimes they may see your kindness as a flirtation and you might risk some harassment as a woman. But if you are careful and respectful of the local traditions, you will feel really safe in Palestine. The food in Palestine is very delicious. I fell in love with Falafels, the local bread, and with different kinds of the “dips” such as hummus, “baba ganoush” and the local olive oil. Also with the local tea with lots of sugar and local spices - it’s a real paradise! Every morning we took a breakfast together in the Center and it was the best way to start the day. After volunteering in Palestine I would recommend it to everybody who wants to help the locals to improve their English, and anyone who wants to discover the local culture. I think it is important to say that Palestine is not the same as we know it from the media. The most interesting part for me was visiting the locations around the Israeli settlements, and also the separation wall in Bethlehem. The political situation is really complex. On a daily basis you cannot see anything special and it may look like a peaceful environment, but around those particular places you can always feel how difficult the life for Palestinian people is and what things they have to face. It was an unforgettable experience for me and I am really happy I went there. Inshallah I will visit Palestine in future again !

How can this program be improved?

I think the management could be improved as all the volunteers could participate much more activities than they are actually participating. Currently there is maximum one workshop and one lesson per day but it could be more. For example if there is nothing planned, the internationals could give one to one lesson to the employees of the Excellence Center to improve their English skills.

Response from The Excellence Center in Palestine

Hello Lucie,

Thank you so much for leaving a review. We are glad that you enjoyed your time in Hebron, Palestine. Your great work during the two months and a half at the Center will not be forgotten.

We hope to see you in the future at the Excellence Center and in Palestine.
With kind regards,
EC Team

Yes, I recommend
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Short time, great memories

Nobody can deny that traveling to different countries is an invaluable experience that brings uncountable positive benefits to our lives. Even when negative moments might happen, those moments also bring a significant input in our lives. I am Mexican and, as many of us in this mosaicked world, I have always enjoy traveling, either around my country or to others.
As travelers, we experienced positive and negatives culture shocks. I experience several when I studied my Master degree in Finland. The Mexican and the Finnish cultures seem to be opposite. Nevertheless, after some months in the country I was able to find some similarities.
When I arrived in Palestine, I felt amazed by how similar the Palestinian culture was to mine. However, as days went by, I started to be aware that we are, at certain degree, different. In Mexico we proudly say “Mi casa es tu casa” - my place is your place-, we do not hesitate to show off that we are very hospitable. Palestinians take hospitality to such a different level, that I have to clearly state that I was shocked in a positive way.
I stayed in a home where my host brother lived with his parents and sister. Despite the language barrier (I do not speak Arabic and, except for my host brother, they do not speak English) their welcoming spirit and warmness was always around. As it is very well-known, Arab culture is very family oriented, and the house in my host family was not the exception. Every day, at least two of the 22 nieces and nephews of my host brother were around. It was a lovely experience to see them surrounding me, smiling with their lovely curious eyes, trying to make a conversation while, at the same time, teaching me some words in Arabic.
The words learnt with the relatives of my host family were not the only ones I learnt during my staying. Despite my short time in Hebron, I had the opportunity to take some hours of Arabic lessons. My Arabic teacher was a sweet young lady who was very enthusiastic. She really cared to teach me the essential daily phrases. Learning them was easier as all the staff in the center were greeting me in Arabic and were always patient and keen to correct my pronunciation and teach extra vocabulary.
The atmosphere in the center is always nice and friendly. This comes from the staff, the Arabic students, and the volunteers which make to have warm memories from them. Thanks to the eagerness of the staff to show us the Palestinian culture, I was able to travel to different cities around. For instance, we spent a lovely Friday hiking in a hill surrounded by an outstanding landscape, then, enjoying a nice falafel lunch in Bethlehem. Another interesting visit was when we went all together to the Dead Sea and enjoy a delicious BBQ prepared by all of us.
This is my first experience in an Arab country and I came with the high expectation to find the famous Arab hospitality. Undoubtedly, I lived it. I spent a short time in Hebron, but this is was not a problem for taking from this place and their warm and kind people great memories.

How can this program be improved?

Providing furhter details about local transportation and maps (or at least a diagram) before and during the arrival

Yes, I recommend
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Experience in Hebron

My name is KlaudiaLewonczyk and I am from Poland. Currently, I study in Germany in the field of business administration. Around one year ago by accident I visited the website of the Excellence Center. I spent a good amount of time reading all the information about Hebron and watching interviews with volunteers. I found it very interesting and I set up a goal to one-day visit Palestine. One of my dreams was always to spend Christmas in Jerusalem. This year I had a longer Christmas break and I decided to make my two goals happen.

In the beginning of my Palestinian adventure I spent 5 nights in the old town of Jerusalem. I could enjoy the Christmas atmosphere and wonder around the city, exploring small neighborhoods, interesting streets and experiencing life on the one side of the wall.

Getting to Hebron was very easy. I took a bus from the Damascus Gate to Bethlehem and from there a shared taxi to Hebron. Any time I had a doubt if I am going in the right directions, people were helping me. I don’t know any Arabic but I didn’t have any problems with communication. The shared taxi driver dropped me in the front of the Excellence Center. I arrived fast and safe to Hebron.

From the first day I felt very welcomed both in the center and also in Hebron. With my host family I have a feeling that I found a second home in Palestine. Back in PolandI have only one, older brother and honestly I always wished for a bigger family. In Palestine most of the families are very big comparing to those in Europe. In my family in Hebron I have 3 sisters (one is already married) and 3 brothers. It is such a wonderful feeling when your 5 years old host brother is waiting for you, and with smile on his face proudly saying the English words that he learnt. My host mom is a great housewife who cooks the best Palestinian food. Indeed, when you are in Palestine forget about diet. The food here is amazing! My host sisters are the best sisters I could wish for. In the evenings we talk, laugh and tell stories about traditions in our countries. The possibility of staying with a Palestinian family is one of the biggest advantages that the Excellence Center offers. Living the daily life of Palestinian people opened my mind on many things I had no idea before.

When it comes to the activities in the center, believe me, you won’t be bored! In Hebron for the first time I had the opportunity to take Arabic classes. The two weeks spent here allowed me to learn basic grammar rules and useful expressions in the shop or taxi. I was so proud to finally be able to tell my taxi driver where I want to go without showing him address written on the piece of paper. As a volunteer, I helped with organizing workshops and lessons for students from Hebron. I met many great and kind people, who were very curios about my country. During my time in Palestine, together with other people from the center we visited Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho. And of course, we were exploring Hebron and its great shopping places in the old part of the city.

This short text about my experience in Hebron would not be completedwithout mentioning the amazing atmosphere in the center. All the staff members are friendly, warm and hospitable. After leaving Palestine I will miss so many things, including beautiful landscapes, delicious food but most importantly the people. Although, I spent only 2 weeks in Hebron, I think these friendships will last forever.

Yes, I recommend
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A short yet sweet trip

My name is Maya and I am currently doing my masters in humanitarian action at the university of Geneva. I volunteered at the Excellence Center by sharing some teaching techniques to local teachers, encouraging university students to learn English and writing articles about my experience in Palestine.

Unfortunately, my time in Hebron was much too short. In hindsight, I would have chosen a time where I can stay for at least a month and preferably in summer.

At the center, there are volunteers and Arabic learners. Unlike the latter, Volunteers do not have consistent schedules. Some days I would start at 11 am and finish at 6pm and others, I would start and 9am and be off at 3pm. It all depends on the weekly schedule we are given.

Throughout the week, the center organizes small trips to the sights that must be visited. On Fridays, the Center organizes longer trips to other cities in Palestine. I strongly recommend going with the group as they take you to certain secluded and unique areas that are not mentioned in the mainstream sights to see.

I was fortunate enough to be in Palestine for Christmas and didn't miss the opportunity to be in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. Naturally, it was fairly crowded but the atmosphere was festive and very enjoyable. The Center was kind enough to give us Christmas day off so I ventured with another volunteer to Jerusalem and roved the old city for hours. I was surprised to see foreigners carrying large wooden crosses around Jerusalem. I suppose it is some kind of pilgrimage that simulates the Christ's path to his crucifixion (?)

In Hebron, I live with a host family that will go above and beyond to ensure my comfort and happiness. They have two highly active children (whom I share the bedroom with) and always have delicious meals ready for when I get home. They invited me to join them to a relative's wedding in Jericho. It was my first time attending a conservative, traditional wedding with the women separate from the men and I truly enjoyed the experience.

With regards to the security in Palestine, the only time I felt slightly ill at ease was during our trip to a street where the occupation is extremely visible – Alshohada street. A young settler was doing his daily jogging with a riffle around his chest which to some, can be quite shocking. I strongly recommend to all visitors to take a stroll on this street for many reasons but I will let you figure out why for yourself!

Whether you are planning on learning Arabic or volunteering in Hebron, I would truly recommend the Excellence Center. The staff is kind and professional, the activities are fun and the overall experience is very enriching.

Yes, I recommend

About The Excellence Center in Palestine

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...