If you have the chance to live with a Palestinian family in Palestine it is highly recommended! Families who volunteer to host internationals are briefed on how to keep everyone safe and feel comfortable in their home and in Hebron. They are encouraged to share everything with their volunteer or student including food and their Palestinian culture and customs. You will most likely be invited to meet your host’s extended family and share tea with them during your stay. The rooms differ house to house and sometimes you may have to share a room with another international or with children from the family, but if you are not comfortable with your situation the Excellence Center is very quick and helpful when responding to concerns.
Elissa from the USA who is studying Arabic in Palestine was placed in a home without wifi and found it difficult to talk to her parents back in the USA. She expressed these concerns and was moved to a new family. “The Center made it easy to switch families. Although I loved the first one, I needed internet access to keep in touch with family back home and I wanted a family that spoke a little bit more English. They understood and I was moved to a different family the following day.”
Hospitality is a huge part of the Palestinian culture and host families want to make sure you’re comfortable and full of food. Itzel from Mexico who is studying Arabic in Palestine said “It is unbelievable how hospitable they are. I come from Latin culture, and people here go above and beyond that!”. Host families in Palestine will also be there to tell you about how to get around Hebron and how to deal with people politely and make it around the city safely. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask someone at the center or someone in your host family.
The family in Palestine will want to take care of everything, so a gesture that would be normal, even polite in the western world is not always taken the same way here. Maeva from Switzerland who is Teaching English told me about a small misunderstanding with her family, “I wanted some fruit and there wasn’t much at the house, so I went and bought some for myself and extra to share with the rest of the family. I thought it was a nice gesture since they had already given me so much food, but the family was slightly offended becuase they thought I was saying they couldn’t properly provide for me so I had to buy food. From now on if I need something I just ask and they will make sure we have it in the house!”.
Stephanie from Holland who is studying Arabic in Palestine says her family is “incredibly sweet, caring and humble”. Her first thoughts when she when she arrived were, “How will I ever repay their hospitality” becuase they are always making sure she is comfortable and fed. Stephanie also said she enjoys talking with her host mom and answering her many questions about what it is like living in Europe and she feels she can be herself and talk about anything around her host mom.