“My name is Khabir; I am an English student living in America, where I study Political Science. Palestine is high on my list of travel destinations, as it has a rich culture very different from my own, in addition to a fascinating language. The opportunity to improve the community by volunteering my native English skills is valuable, and I am proud to contribute to Palestinian socio-economic development. In the few days I have been here, I have already experienced much just from the beautiful city of Hebron (al-Khalil in arabic). Palestine is at the center of religious history, however, as someone who is completely non-religious, I have still found my time here enlightening.
At first, I was happy to discover that Palestinians are every bit as helpful and hospitable as I have heard; their reputation truly precedes them. My journey to al-Khalil was long and had several unforeseen obstacles, but I was very fortunate to have several locals who, seeing a confused foreigner looking around, were all too happy to point me in the right direction. One even organized my travel for me when I was far too exhausted to do so myself. This was the trip from Jerusalem to al-Khalil (after a busy day and a journey from Tel Aviv), where I had to take a bus to a certain stop in Beit Jalla, followed by a service (shared taxi) to my destination. A local man, from Beit Ummar, was kind enough to guide me the entire way. In addition, the people living in Hebron have been very welcoming, even giving me an arabic name (although, to be fair, it is easier for them to pronounce than my given name, which is French). Concurrently, I have yet to feel unsafe here, although the roads are far more hectic than in England or America.
While in al-Khalil, I plan to contribute to local society by teaching English. I also look forward to learning more Arabic (I was able to garner basic conversational skills through youtube) and exploring the city, which is absolutely charming. I am also excited to take advantage of the days off that we are given, which I will use travel around Palestine (in addition to complimentary guided tours given by the Center) and see the endless sights, including Ramallah, Nablus and the Dead Sea. Finally, Palestinian food is phenomenal. I have been here only a few days, but the local diet -from a simple breakfast including hummus, baba ghanoush, khubz bread and other delicious items, to sweet ka’ak and locally grown fruits- is far superior to staples in England and America. Adjusting to living conditions that are far more austere than I am used to was a surprise on the first night, but has overall been very beneficial. In short, staying and volunteering in Palestine has been a wonderful adventure so far”.