Dinner Time With Palestinian Host Families:One of the most amazing experiences our volunteers get to have while volunteering with us here at the Excellence Center is eating dinner with their Palestinian host families in the West Bank. Sharing meals is an important part of Palestinian culture and we are happy to invite our guests into this experience. Our volunteers have spoken to us about dinner time with their Palestinian host families and give us more information on the subject.
Paulina is from Finland and she is here to teach in the Health and Medical in Palestine field. As she is also studying hard for university exams at home in Finland she tells us that unfortunately she has to miss a fair amount of dinner times due to staying in the city and studying after work. However she lights up as she tells us that tomorrow Finland has a big holiday as it will turn one-hundred years old. Paulina tells us of how she will turn the tables and instead herself cook for the family. She says, “I hope I will succeed, I have a lot of pressure,” Paulina continues on, telling us that her host family has invited some special friends over for the event, “and now I am more nervous.” Paulina plans to cook for three hours and will be making an array of foods like pie.
Alexa from the United States is participating our “Volunteer to Write about Palestine” program and she tells us she spends most dinner times with her host family. ‘They are always offering to feed me, I had planned to have to cook some of my meals while I was here in Palestine but that rarely happens.” Alexa continues, “I always look forward to returning home for dinner with the family after I finish my day at work. It is a soothing routine to be part of, we all sit down together and it is also a great time for me to continue to practice my Arabic speaking skills.” Alexa tells us, “the food is always delicious, especially when we eat the traditional makluba.”
Another one of our volunteers from The United States who is participating in our “Teach English and Learn Arabic in Palestine” program tells us, “of course the home-cooked, authentic Palestinian food is beyond delicious but I really like being able to connect with everyone in my host family during dinner time. It is a bonding experience and I really feel like I am part of the family. The whole family makes an effort for me to be included and this couldn’t be more evident than at dinner time.” Ola from the United States adds, “it is always very delicious and very vibrant, everyone is all excited and talking.”
For those of our volunteers who are vegetarian, do not worry. Says one volunteer, “there are some things I can eat with them, there is always a lot of rice and bread and then the rest I cook for myself.” Adds another vegetarian volunteer, “at first it was a little difficult but now I eat what I can with them and I cook the rest for myself.” Alexa is from the United States and she does not eat red meat, “really it was only the first night that was difficult, then after I explained, for the most part if we eat meat we eat chicken, and if there is other meat I just eat the other foods.”
As you can see our volunteers in Palestine are provided with the special experience of sharing meal times with their Palestinian host families. This is experience is memorable for many reasons, not just because of the food (which is delicious!) but also for the community and the bonds created whilst everyone sits around the table.