As a volunteer for the Excellence Center, I’m looking forward to exploring Palestine as well as getting a more intimate perspective of it by living with a Palestinian family and through my teaching. I’m originally from the U.S., so I imagine there will be many cultural aspects that will be distinct. Within the first week I’m already beginning to see some of the salient differences between the two cultures. For one thing, Palestinians are extremely hospitable (much more so than Americans). Both the members of the Excellence Center and the members of my host family have demonstrated incredible kindness towards me within the first few days. The welcome that I have received has made the transition much easier.
Here, I’ll be a volunteer teaching English and learning Arabic as part of the TESA program. I’m hoping that teaching will both give me insight into the complexities of language learning and will also give me a look into the culture of Palestine. I decided to come to the Excellence Center after four years of studying the Arab World, including its language, culture and political landscape. I’ve learned that dozens of books and hundreds of articles would still not be enough for me to feel confident in my understanding of the region. This is the reason I decided to travel to the Middle East as an essential next step in continuing my studies after graduation.
I will be in Hebron, Palestine for the next four and a half months, living with a host family and volunteering at the center. I’m eager to get a better understanding of some of the day-to-day customs of the Palestinian people so that, for the time that I’m here, I can treat this as my home. I am, of course, also interested in gaining a more informed and nuanced perspective of the Israeli Occupation and how the daily lives of Palestinians are affected by it. Already I’ve been able to see the manifestation of the occupation in the town of Susiya, in which the Palestinians live in tents and simple structured-houses and the settlers live in fully furnished homes with electricity and swimming pools. I’m sure this will be just one of many ways that I’ll be given the opportunity to learn through observation of and conversations with the people that live here.
During the next four months I look forward to deepening my knowledge about Palestine, the Arab World and so much more”. Katrina Rost from the USA who is participating in the Teach English, Speak Arabic in Hebron, Palestine this summer 2015