Fredy Gumpert, a 20 year old from London is another of our wonderful volunteers at the Excellence Center. After his experience in Hebron Fredy returned to London to complete the final year of his bachelor degree in International Relations at King’s College.
At the Excellence Center, Fredy participated in the ‘Volunteering in Palestine’ programme and there were many reasons why he chose this program to participate. Most importantly he wanted to experience the joy of teaching as his mother is a teacher and thoroughly enjoys her job.
“The opportunity to experience what it would be like to teach a class was one I could not pass up. Furthermore, I wanted to gain at least a basic grasp of the Arabic language. With a degree like mine the ability to speak and understand Arabic would be a highly valued skill”.
As with many of our volunteers the issue of safely is always at the forefront of their mind before they make their journey to Palestine. According to Fredy:
“I felt extremely safe for my whole time in Palestine with the exception of my first night. The first night of my arrival was slightly scary because I was living on my own and the electricity was not working. However since then I have felt safe throughout my stay. The only other moments I felt slightly uneasy was when walking through H2 (the Israeli occupied part of Hebron) surrounded by soldiers with automatic weapons. In the Arab part of the city there is absolutely no reason to fear anything, the people are too kind to do anything bad to you. My only advice is to be careful crossing the road!”
While it is always an advantage to have some knowledge of Arabic before you join the Center, it is not essential. Fredy for example, had absolutely no knowledge of Arabic before his arrival in Hebron. However, he does advise potential participants at the very least to learn the alphabet before travelling to Hebron. In doing so they will save a lot of time in the Arabic lessons they have here, and instead they can focus on reading and writing, which is impossible unless you know the alphabet.
So what are the treasured moments for Fredy of his time in Palestine?
“My best memories in Hebron would have to be the time spent with fellow volunteers or Arabic students. I was lucky to be here with some very friendly people who I got on with very well. Time spent playing cards and smoking shisha with these people I now consider my friends are moments I will treasure. If asked to choose my favourite memory here in Hebron, it would be when myself and two other volunteers went to a traditional Palestinian wedding party. Despite being uninvited the hosts were so kind to us, it was difficult to leave after several hours”.
Of course, food plays an important part in any Palestinian experience as Fredy quickly learnt. Traditional delights such as: mansaf (a lamb dish served with a milk sauce, traditionally served at weddings) makluba (a chicken dish served with rice) and the sweet knafeh (a sugary treat with goat cheese inside).
“My experience at the Center has been very enjoyable. The people I have met have been very friendly and fun. Furthermore I have appreciated the chance to teach a class of my own. The intermediate 2nd class that I have been teaching are all very interesting, hard-working students. The only way this program could have been improved from my point of view is if the price were reduced”.