Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine

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About

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

During the last four years, the Excellence Center has hosted more than 250 international interns, students, and volunteers from every corner of the world.

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

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

Questions & Answers

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/ .
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.

Reviews

92%
based on 112 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 8.6
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 46 - 60 of 112
Tataki
7/10

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

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

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

How can this program be improved?
Some more organization could be helpful
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Tataki,

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

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

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Einar
10/10

Great time with wonderful people

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

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi our Swedish volunteer,

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

Greetings from the entire team

Yes, I recommend this program
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Casey
10/10

3 months in Palestine

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

How can this program be improved?
It is perfect.
Response from The Excellence Center

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

We wish you success in learning Arabic

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ben
9/10

My Experience in Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Ben,

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

We wish you all the best

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Benjamin
10/10

2 Months in Hebron

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

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

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

Hi Benjamin,

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Marta
9/10

My Palestinian Adventure

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

How can this program be improved?
I would add couple of more Arabic classes a week if possible. Also, I would appreciate to get the details about my host family a little earlier, so I could get in touch with them, it's always nice to at least have an idea about people you're about to live with.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Marta,

Thank you so much for your great voluntary work at the Center. We are really very happy to hear that you had a good experience in Palestine. Thank you also for sharing it with others.

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

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine
The Excellence Center' team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Szymon
9/10

Experience as a volunteer in Palestine

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

How can this program be improved?
Extend volunteer options from learning english and studying arabic and writing about Palestine to something more
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi our Young Volunteer Szymon,

Thank you so much for your great work. We are really very happy to hear that you had a good experience in Palestine. Thank you also for sharing it with others.

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

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine
The Excellence Center' team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Matthew
10/10

Great 2-month experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Matthew,

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

Greetings from Palestine

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Oliver
8/10

My Experience in Palestine

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

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Olly,

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

Greetings from Palestine

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Nick
10/10

Excellence Center Review by Nick

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

How can this program be improved?
The teaching experience could be slightly better organized with more time for preparation, but this wasn't the hardest thing in the world to work with.
Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Nick,

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Emil
10/10

My experience in Palestine

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

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

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Emil,

Greetings to you from Palestine

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jamie
10/10

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

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 this program
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Tanya
10/10

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

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 this program
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Eleanor
9/10

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

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 this program
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Emma
8/10

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

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 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...