“I am Julia, 28, from Berlin, Germany. I participated in the trip to Palestine that was organized by the Excellence Center in August 2017 and spent one week with a host family in Hebron during which I could experience the local culture and explore a lot of sites in Palestine.
We visited many places, starting with the university and nativity church in Bethlehem, as well as the terraces of Battir, the old city and Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron as well as the local factories for shoes, ceramics and kaffeah and the tomb and museum of Arafat in Ramallah. The Excellence Center included me and the other participants of the trip in their mutual activities, like the shared breakfast in the mornings and enabled us to spend time with the other volunteers and locals.
The highlight was the trip to Jericho and the dead sea. Floating in the dead sea is a unique experience that can’t be compared to anything else. You have to experience it yourself! On this day we visited also a spring that was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I could have spend the whole day there.
We could also learn a lot about the current living conditions and the circumstances of the conflict, that you can hardly overlook while in Palestine. We were invited to a refugee camp and to the Shuhada street in Hebron and got the chance to talk with people who suffer from abuse by settlers and the army on an almost daily basis. It was heart breaking!
Aside from these very sad problem areas, the general living conditions are good. Even the heat was not as bad as expected as the buildings are cool from the inside and it is usually possible to find places in the shade. As a respectful visitor you have to adapt your clothing and behavior to the local standards and will find yourself very welcome by the open minded Palestinian people.
Staying with a host family is the best way to immerse in the culture and learn about the daily life in this area. I felt very welcome, appreciated and taken care of. My host family even invited me to a family party which was a great experience that taught me a lot about the culture. I enjoyed it very much.
Security was never an issue! Even the controls through Israelis were fewer than expected and although still an unpleasant experience, nothing to be afraid of. In Hebron, I could pass freely although I was only very few times on my own. The Excellence Center staff, my host family and strangers were all very friendly and helpful. I made a lot of new friends and am really happy that I took the chance of this trip. It was an amazing experience that changed the way I see the world.”