Friendship and Connections with Locals in Palestine: Palestinians are famous for their hospitality towards foreigners who they view as honored guests. From the moment you arrive in Palestine till the day you leave you will be enveloped by the welcoming spirit of our culture, even when just walking the streets or taking a taxi. However, today we at the Excellence Center would like to speak about more than the just the daily hospitality you will encounter here in Palestine and delve a bit deeper speaking about friendships and true connections made between our international volunteers and locals.
We have spoken with our current volunteers about their experiences with locals to see what they have to say. One of our volunteers from the Belgium who participates in our “Teach Arabic and Learn Arabic” program tells us how he has found his niche and befriended some locals who share his deep interest in chess. “In the evenings, if I am not studying for my Arabic lessons or preparing lesson plans for my classes I am playing chess.” He tells us how is only packing regret is not bringing his own chess set, “even though there are plenty to play on here with my local friends, but there is something about having my own with me that I miss, if I knew I would make such fast friends to play chess with, I definitely would have brought mine along with me to Hebron.”
Another volunteer from the United States who is participating in our “Volunteer to Write about Palestine and Learn Arabic” program tells us about her experience with local friendships. “One day I was at the Excellence Center writing and this woman came in who was obviously in need of assistance, she needed help with applications for scholarships to international universities, this is not a service the center currently provides so I offered my help as I have extensive experience in these things.” This volunteer continues, “after just one visit at her house helping her we became fast friends and I am so grateful to have met her, we really have so much in common.”
Many of our volunteers make friends with the children or grandchildren of their host families. A second volunteer from the United States participating in our “Teach English and Learn Arabic” program tells us that her and her host (grand) mother’s granddaughter immediately connected, “right away I knew we would be friends, she speaks some English so that was definitely helpful at the beginning.” This volunteer continues, “one night my host mom had to be away because one of her daughters was going into labor so her granddaughter came to the house to spend the night with me, I was so touched and that is really when we solidified our friendship.” This volunteer tells us that after her visa expires and she travels to Jordan she plans on coming back for her friend’s wedding in Hebron.
As you can see our volunteers are able to make friends with locals for many different reasons in an array of circumstances. It is these relationships that our volunteers tell us really connect them with the local culture. Most of our volunteers stay in close contact with the friends they meet here long after they leave Palestine.