Many volunteers at the Excellence Center are well traveled, both inside and outside of Palestine. Volunteers come from all over the world, from the USA to Singapore, Japan to Latvia, and have visited countries on nearly every continent. As such our volunteers have gathered some pretty amazing stories from their travels over the years. We thought we would take this opportunity to share some of these stories with you.
Connor from the USA, 24, visited Palestine when he was a student in Amman, Jordan prior to volunteering with the Excellence Center. He describes his interaction with a salesperson on the streets of East Jerusalem. “Some friends and I were walking back to our hostel when we passed a stand. I saw a sheepskin hanging out for sale and said out loud, ‘Oh look a sheepskin!’ Out of nowhere a Palestinian salesman appeared and started following us and offering to sell us the hide. It probably wasn’t a hot item. A friend of mine who was much better at Arabic than me asked me for a price to offer. I gave him a really low number not really wanting it, but he walked over to the salesman and after two minutes I had a new sheepskin. When we got back to the room we discovered it still smelled like a dead sheep! Back in Amman my host mom took one whiff and hung the skin outside on the balcony, insisting I take it to get dry-cleaned the next day.”
Aleksandra from Latvia, 30, describes discovering new forms of wildlife while studying in Morocco. “One day me and the other girls I was staying with at my homestay in Morocco returned home and found a bug in our room. We thought it was a cockroach but it was much bigger, at least 20 cm. We don’t have bugs like this in my country. All of a sudden it started flying around the room, we didn’t think cockroaches could do that! Me and my host-sisters were terrified of bugs so we all started running around and screaming until one of my sisters took a pen and stabbed it.”
Erica from Sweden, 24, describes visiting the Dead Sea with Abu Mohammed, the General Manager of the Excellence Center, and his friend Tareq. “The three of us were floating in the water when I got up and started walking toward the shore. I looked back and a German tourist was splashing the water and splashed Abu Mohammed and Tareq in the faces. Because the water in the Dead Sea is so salty neither of them could see! Abu Mohammed stood up and Tareq took his hand. They started stumbling toward the shore feeling their way for the showers to wash their faces. It was so sweet how they helped each other and so funny to watch!”
Chris from Singapore, 24, recalls how, while in Switzerland, he and friend wanted to catch a soccer match, “But the match was in Liverpool, UK the next day and the flights were 200€. So, we decided to travel by land. We took a train to Lyon, France. We wanted to take a second train to Paris but when we got on we had misplaced our tickets, so my friend and I hid in the bathroom with our backpacks for two hours! Everyone was knocking and banging on the door the whole ride. We then took a cab to Calais, the ferry across the English Channel, and hitchhiked our way to Liverpool, all in 24 hours!”
“Another time I was in Finland and wanted to visit the Arctic Circle. I bought my train ticket but when I got to the platform the train started moving! I ran and jumped onboard and tried to open the door but it was locked. So, I hoped off and ran up to the next door. That one was locked too so I hoped off again and ran to the next one. The third door was locked but after I slammed my body against it the door opened and I fell in with my backpack. Then the train immediately stopped and the conductor came to the car to yell at me. Either way, I made it onboard and it was the first time in my life that I saw snow.”
We hope these stories have gotten you about travel. A trip to Hebron with the Excellence Center is sure to give you some amazing experiences to share with friends and family in the future.