Doing Fieldwork and Academic Research in Palestine: Academic studies are often a major motivating factor for internationals wanting to come to Palestine. For some it is a means to compliment there studies, while for others it is a requirement of their degrees. The Excellence Center is able to accommodate internationals who require assistance in completing their academic courses, whether that be for credit or for conducting research in the region.
As most university students know, and as any good professor will tell you, while academic courses are an integral part of any educational process, complimenting them with real world, on the ground experience is in many respects just as important as all the theories and lessons one learns in the class room. Tempering the text book view of the world with the world as it is lived not only brings the textbook alive, but carves out new ways of thinking that ultimately lead to intellectual advancements that can lead to better ways of doing things, and importantly, new ways of looking at things.
In this regards, time at the Excellence Center is an invaluable means through which to bring Palestine (and the conflict with Israel) to life – as volunteers are engaging daily with Palestinians it is a means to humanise Palestine, to make it real as it is experienced on the ground by Palestinians. For volunteers such as Jana, this desire is what sent her to the Excellence Center. Having completed a degree in Germany in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Sciences, her time in Hebron has been invaluable in bringing the region to life, while at the same time giving her an opportunity to learn Arabic. For Jennifer, from the USA, her motivation was a little more specific. She came to the Excellence Center having just studied a Bachelor of Languages Arabic, and so wanted to immerse herself in an Arabic speaking environment. However, she had also studied TESOL, and has therefore also been able to put these skills to practice, in effect, her time in Hebron has been a type of work placement.
The Excellence Center is also able to accommodate those wanting to complete field work for an advanced research degree. The Center can, and does, provide a rewarding space through which to conduct field work. In providing this assistance, the Center is able to help researchers with identifying interview participants, networking and the translation of transcripts. For this to occur, a volunteer simply has to inform the staff of their intentions, their research objects, and then sign the necessary research agreement. This agreement ensures a researcher will abide by all ethical considerations (for example, for anthropology this involves the AAA ethics guidelines), to ensure that all participants are made anonymous in the final product, and to make available to the Center the final research product. This is of course on top of all ethical requirements being granted by the researcher’s university – of which the Center is able to provide a letter to support the ethics application to the university’s ethics department.
As all research projects are different, the staff at the Center are flexible – it is just a matter of making your research objectives known, and the assistance you require. While it is a requirement to volunteer at the Center, this time spent should not be seen as an impediment to any research objectives you may have. The Center is an excellent way to meet Palestinians, get to know them, and, importantly, to network not only with Palestinians but with other internationals. Time off can be organised for visits throughout the region (volunteers are given two days of a week, and also have up to four days per month), while also having the means to see the Occupation up close. On top of this, there are numerous universities throughout the West Bank with which one can do library based research if required.
Hebron has often been called a microcosm for the broader Israeli/Palestinian conflict – for this reason alone it makes for an interesting place to conduct field work. The Excellence Center, with its ties with the local community in and around Hebron, compliment this by providing a means through which to have readily available assistance throughout a researchers field work.