My Motivation for Visiting Palestine: My name is Annabel, and today will be my fourth day living in Hebron and doing an internship writing articles for the Excellence Center. I have just graduated from studying History and Politics at the University of Edinburgh, where I became interested in Middle Eastern history. This was the main reason that I chose to come to Palestine; I was fascinated by its history from ancient times, as a birthplace of civilisation and a place of cultural crossroads, to the modern day. I was excited to visit the places and sites of historical interest that I have already learnt about, and also to witness everyday life in Palestine.
I am looking forward to learning Arabic while I am here, which will allow me to gain greater knowledge about Palestinian culture, and I will be able to navigate life in Hebron more easily. Although I know that Arabic is a notoriously difficult language to learn so it will not be easy, my first lesson at the Excellence Center was really interesting, and very encouraging. I now know how to have a short introductory conversation in Arabic, and count to 20.
When I first arrived in Hebron I felt quite overwhelmed because everything was so different to England, and so new. If you have never visited an Arab country before, it is certainly a culture shock. However, I am quickly getting used to life here, and the people I have met have been the most welcoming and friendly people, and have helped me to feel at ease here. Life here generally feels safe, although there can be some protests on Fridays in the Old City, so it is best to stay away then. But as a Western woman I feel very safe walking alone on the streets in the day. My host family have also been very generous, and have helped me to feel at home here. They have also been cooking me the most delicious meals, and they have been happy to cater to my vegetarianism.
During my internship, I am looking forward to visiting nearby tourist sites, such as the Old City of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the fort at Masada and the Dead Sea. I hope I can improve my Arabic quickly, by being so immersed in Arabic language and culture. I know that this trip will be very educational, but I also hope to really enjoy my time here, learning lots and making new friends.”