At the Excellence Center we make a point to start the day off right and all together with a Palestinian community breakfast. We at the excellence Center love to be able to provide this meal for all those who contribute the work we do at the center. It is a nice ritual and routine to be able to participate in each morning. Our volunteers along with our staff and even the director of the Excellence Center sit down every morning and share breakfast together. Says one volunteer, “it is nice to know that every morning upon arrival at the center that we will all sit down and begin the day together.”
Maneesha from the United States is here to run seminars and contribute her extensive knowledge of computer science and technology enjoys the ritualistic aspect the breakfast each morning, “the consistency of it is something that is really wonderful, everything else here is so full of surprises except for our breakfast time, you can count on it always being there, for the most part it is the only consistent part off my day, after breakfast the adventured starts!”
This community breakfast is beneficial for many reasons. We go over schedule for the day, discuss possible day trips for later in the week and just in general check in with each other. Maneesha remarks, “it is also a time when a lot of us practice our Arabic, being so new to the language it is the main time I get to practice with others [outside of lessons] and I get exposed to some of the most common phrases there, especially the many ways of greeting others.”
We spoke with the director of the Excellence Center, Osama and he weighed in with his thoughts regarding the traditional Palestinian community breakfast, “it is nice because the administration in the center and all the staff, volunteers, Arabic teachers and also occasionally students sit down together.” He continues, “it is like family time, we talk about Palestinian food, how it’s made and we also speak about traditional breakfasts in the home countries of our international volunteers. It’s a cultural exchange.” Our volunteers agree with Osama when he points out, “it is nice to give the volunteers the opportunity to speak together because during the rest of the day everyone has their own individual schedule and are not always free at the same times.”
Alexa is from the United States and participates in our “Volunteer to Write about Palestine” program, she is familiar with Modern Standard Arabic but is studying Palestinian dialect with us at the Excellence Center. She tells us, “it is a great opportunity to become more familiar with dialect and get exposed to regular conversation. Also it is a safe space for me to practice my dialect speaking, I am not as afraid of making mistakes when I speak as I am in the street. I get to try out new words and sentences and get kind corrections from the director or my Arabic teacher and sometimes from students.”
The community traditional Palestinian breakfast is one of the pillars of our program here. It helps our community (administration, teachers, volunteers, and staff) forge personal connections with one another. It is important to us that we not only work together but that we get along and feel as though we are somewhat of a family. This is especially helpful to our international volunteers who are far from their home and families.