Family Visit to Palestine: We at the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine welcome and host volunteers from all over the world, near and far. Many of our international volunteers speak to us about the thrill of traveling alone to such a foreign country with a foreign culture. The excitement of adventure and newness is a captivating feeling, However, despite these feelings and experience occasionally our volunteers do get homesick, especially for friends and family. Recently one of our volunteers who is from the United States and participates in our “Volunteer to Write about Palestine” program had her sister come and visit from America.
Initially, the thought of such for loved ones may feel extreme or impossible yet when it is framed as not only a vacation for the traveler but also to reconnect with their loved one and better understand the work and culture in which our international volunteers live. Our international volunteer whose sister just finished visiting Palestine could talk of nothing else leading up to the reunion, she was so excited. This volunteer explains, “I’ve been in Palestine for a little over two months, my sister and I are extremely close and we speak quite regularly on Whatsapp,” she continues, “I have told her all about my life here but there’s only so much one can describe over the phone about Palestine, it is hard to articulate how special it is here.” This volunteer was thus overjoyed to host her sister and introduce her to life in Palestine. Family Visit to Palestine
Our volunteer and her sister visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Old City of Hebron, the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Excellence Center. Our volunteer told us that her sister was, “most taken with the separation wall Bethlehem and the food here, there was not one meal we ate without her marveling at how delicious Palestinian food is.” Our volunteer explained how this went over wonderfully at her host family’s house. “They all loved her and her continuous affirmation of how wonderful the food was certainly made them very happy.
Some of our international volunteers tell us of the pushback they received from loved ones regarding their decision to come volunteer in Palestine. Generally this reaction comes from fear and love but it can still be frustrating to explain and convince those around you at home that the West Bank is not some unsafe war zone. It is understandable to receive this reaction from some as the news coverage of Palestine in western media is often inaccurate.
Our volunteer was so pleased with her family Visit to Palestine , “even just walking up and down Ain Sara st. with her was exciting, seeing everything through her new perspective was great, having her witness the hospitality and welcoming nature of Palestinian culture felt so good, it was important to me that she see these qualities of Palestine because they are what makes this place so special.” Having a relative or friend visit you in Palestine is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to what your life is like in Palestine and of course to give you a little feeling of home.