Volunteer and Learn Arabic In Palestine

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Join Our Family in Palestine and Germany

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

About

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

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

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

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

Questions & Answers

I don't know for certain what the age limits are, but when I was there I met people from their early twenties to seventies. You don't need to have teaching experience as far as I know. They seem very willing to work with whatever level of experience you have. It is helpful to know some Arabic before you go. I didn't know any and it was difficult at times, especially with my host family, but not...
Hi, thanks for reaching out! We don't have the details on our site for classes. To learn more we recommend contacting the program provider directly to learn more! This helpful link will take you right to their contact info: http://excellencenter.org/contact-us/ .
Hi, great question! The monthly fee to participate in the program is $695 (U.S.$). Anything extra you save can go to personal spending and exploring the area! For an estimate of how much you should bring for personal spending we recommend contacting the program provider more details, which you can do here: http://excellencenter.org/volunteer-in-palestine-2/ .

Reviews

92%
based on 117 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.7
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 46 - 60 of 117
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valentina
8/10

Volunteer at Excellence Center Hebron

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Valentina,

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

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

With kind regard,s

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

My experience with the EC

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Niccolo,

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

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

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

With kind regards,
EC's Team

Yes, I recommend this program
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McKayla
10/10

My experience in the Excellence Center

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

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

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

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

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

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi McKayla,

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

We wish you all success in learning Arabic as well

Greetings from Hebron, Palestine

No, I don't recommend this program
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Giulia
10/10

Volunteer Programe in Palestine - Hebron

My name is Giulia and I come from Italy. In April 2017 I completed my Master's Degree in International Relations and after few days from my graduation I decided to participate as a volunteer to the program offered by the Excellence Center in Palestine. This program consisted in teaching English to some students of the local youth; for example, I usually had lessons with children in the morning and private lessons with intermediate students in the afternoon. But I wasn't just a teacher: I was also an Arabic Student. The Excellence Center, gave me the opportunity to learn the local language and in just two weeks I was capable to write words and to have small conversations with people.

What about the Center? Well, I should say that the environment in which I volunteered was friendly and stress-free. All the people I met were so nice with me, both the volunteers and the staff of the Center, and we enjoyed a lot of time together, like having breakfast or lunch, organizing small parties etc. The students were just amazing! I felt their willingness to learn English every single lesson I had with them, and the atmosphere was always nice and friendly.

Beyond the teaching, the Excellence Center organized for me and the other volunteers some trips. We went to Ramallah, to Jericho and to the Dead Sea, but also we visited some sites in Hebron: the Kefiah and the ceramic factories, the sandals factory but also we went to Al Shuahada Street, and this was my hardest experience here in Hebron. I met a family that live there who told me about all the restrictions caused by the settlers, they explained how it is hard to live under occupation and without freedom, and to resist to all the injustices. I found their proof more than interesting, I found it important to me as a human being.

Concerning my stay in Hebron, I was hosted by a Palestinian family. I felt at home since the first day with them; they were polite, respectful, willing and so nice with me and we had a great time together. I can say the same about the Palestinian people I met! I felt to have a lot of things in common with them and their hospitality and honesty was just unbelievable. The food was really tasty, and believe me when I say that the Palestinians love to eat: you will eat a lot of traditional recipes and they will also be pleased to teach them to you! I need also to add the I never felt in danger here in Hebron, but also around Palestine. People are always kind and if they can they will always help you.

So, I just can say that staying here in Hebron for two weeks it's not enough. I fell in love with the people and with the city so I hope to come back as soon as possible and to have the opportunity of staying here longer. I recommend this experience to all the people that are interested in knowing and in understanding others culture, to people that believe in

the importance of cultural exchange, to people that know the importance of sharing(emotions, traditions, culture, capabilities etc.).

Response from The Excellence Center

Hi Giulia,

Greetings to you from the entire team. Thank you so much for reviewing the Excellence Center volunteer program and for your great work at the center. We appreciate your efforts very much

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

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
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Mariam
9/10

Internship programme in Palestine

I live in the UK and just graduated from my law degree before coming to Palestine in the summer of 2017. I took part in the Internship Program in the Excellence Center for a month. I really enjoyed my time in Palestine and was able to meet a variety of lovely people, both Palestinian and international.

Programme
My programme was split into weeks of learning Arabic, learning about the politics, and teaching English. As I had studied Modern Standard Arabic in the past and briefly studied the Syrian dialect, I had a good foundation on which to begin my classes. I had an intensive first week of learning Arabic with three hours a day. I really enjoyed my classes as my teacher used a variety of activities to improve my Arabic and keep me engaged. My confidence in speaking has increased tremendously and I am now more willing to speak to others in Arabic.

The political week of the programme was very insightful. I visited the Hebron Governorate and spoke to the Director of Public Relations. I also went to the Palestinian Society Prisoners Club, the Old City and the closed Shuhada Street. I knew briefly about the history of Palestine before I came here, but was able to see first hand the effect of the past events on the Palestinians.
The final part of my programme was teaching English. I helped out in classes, worked with small groups of students, and prepared parts of a lesson with a partner. I was also in charge of teaching an IELTS student which, although at first was a bit daunting, after researching further into the examination and understanding the students level it was actually fun.

Outside of my programme, the centre also organised other trips around Hebron. This included a trip to the ceramics factory, the kufeyah factory, Ibrahimi Mosque and Maskobiyah Church.

Host family
I stayed with a host family consisting of a mother, father and seven year old son who were very welcoming. As Palestinian families usually live nearby extended family, you usually interact with a larger group of people on a daily basis. During my first week, I was visiting the extended family regularly, but less so afterwards. It was nice that I could visit them and have a cup of tea or play with the children. There were also times in the evening when the children would play on the roof whilst the adults were talking which I thoroughly enjoyed. On the down side, it was sometimes difficult to get alone time.

Hebron
Hebron is a city with all the amenities you would expect of one. Banks, shopping centres, supermarkets, convenience stores, cafes, and restaurants are all available. The one key difference is the transport system. I travelled around by taxi. There are mini buses along the main road, but depending on how far away you live from a main road it may be better to take a taxi and the taxi prices are clear and known by everyone. As I live quite a distance away from the main road, in the afternoons I would take a taxi back as it was mostly uphill and too hot to walk.

There are cash machines throughout the city. I withdrew from the Arab Bank in shekels, but other volunteers have had to use other cash machines and then exchange their currency.

The city is pretty safe and many people go out late into the night, especially due to the hot weather in the summer. I have been out after 10pm without any difficulty and its not unusual for shops to be open until late.

Travelling
Transportation around Palestine is informal, but relatively simple once you know where to get the mini buses. The bus to Jerusalem (Al-Quds) is not too far from the Excellence Center and takes you to the Old City. There are also servees (yellow mini-bus) from the bus station in Hebron. I travelled on my own to Jerusalem and was able to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque by following those around me. I was lucky enough to meet a Palestinian in the mosque who was willing to go around the Old City with me.

I also went to the Dead Sea and Ramallah with internationals from the centre and went to Nablus on my own. On my journey from Ramallah to Nablus I met three sisters, one of whom was willing to go around the Old City in Nablus with me and later invited me to her home. Throughout my travels, everyone was very helpful and the sisters that took me around Nablus were the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Overall
I would recommend coming to Palestine for the cultural and learning experience. The Excellence Center provides various programmes to suit individual needs and provides support, especially in regards to finding a host family. One of my main goals was to improve my Arabic and I was incredibly satisfied with that aspect of the programme. It is also important to note that the quality of the experience really depends on how you utilise your free time as, depending on the programme you do, you may have flexible hours and/ or extra free time.

How can this program be improved?
More structure to the programme regarding the delineation between the separate weeks.
More Arabic lessons.
Response from The Excellence Center

Salam Mariam,

Thank you so much for reviewing the internship in Palestine program. It was great to have you at the center this summer.

We will take your suggestion for improvement in our consideration. We wish you all the best and we hope to meet you in Palestine in the near future

With kind regards,

Yes, I recommend this program
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
Default avatar
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
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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
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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
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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

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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...