“My first impression of Palestine” My name is Giulia and I am Italian. In April 2017 I completed my Master’s Degree in International Relations and now I am organizing this new exciting experience as a volunteer at the Excellence Center. During these last few years I have had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge about the MENA’s region from a cultural, social, political and economic point of view, and since my first day at the university, I have become more and more interested in this region of the world. As soon as I had concluded my studies, I realized that I needed a firsthand experience: studying and reading, in my opinion, should be of course the first step to get some knowledge about a specific topic, but there is also a second step that should be done in order to avoid superficiality and stereotypes, in other words “I need to see this or that with my own eyes”. So, during an inspiriting day of May, while I was surfing on Internet I found the Excellence Center’s website and I decided to contact them in order to become a volunteer. And here I am.
As soon as I left the airport I felt at home: hills, valleys, olives groves and grape trees remind me the south of Italy. The road to Hebron was extremely beautiful and my first impression of the city is extremely positive. Great hospitality, friendly people and amazing views. The city is a bit chaotic, there are lots of cars but at the same time is quite interesting to have a walk around the city, admiring all the traditional buildings, trying the local food and discovering the Khalila way of life. I felt safe from the very beginning, and in my opinion it is much safer then it is portrayed by the media.
The Excellence Center is located in one of the main road of Hebron. When I arrived there I found a welcoming atmosphere and people chatting and laughing with each other; there were also people teaching Arabic to the foreigners and English to the locals and each room of the Center had a name of an important city of the area. In the first days in Hebron I went few times at Center and they always offered me some Arabic coffee or some tea: they all were so kind.
Also my Palestinian family has been really kind. It is a huge family, lots of daughters and sons and nephews, just amazing. I played with all the children and in the evening we had a cultural exchange: they taught me Arabic and I taught to them Italian. We had a typical Palestinian dinner, with a lot of food and I loved each single dish. We had such a great time together!
During my experience at the Excellence Center I’m going to teach English but I’m also going to learn some Arabic, so I will be both a teacher and a student. I hope in these two weeks to improve my ability to teach English as a second-language and also my ability to understand and observe others culture. I hope to contribute in a useful way to the teaching of English, not just with my skills but also with my personality. Last but not least, I hope to build strong relationships with all the locals I will meet and for this reason I’m going to work really hard to learn Arabic as more as I can.”