“I’m Khairunisa from Singapore and I just graduated from university last May. I finished a contract job at the end of last year and I have since been finding a job. As it has been a few months of job searching, I wanted to do something meaningful while doing so. I started searching on the internet volunteering opportunities and came across a website which lists various volunteering opportunities all over the world. I was so delighted when I saw that Palestine was listed as one of the countries.
I first came to Palestine in 2012 as part of my umrah with my family. We only spent 3 days in Palestine but we enjoyed our stay very much and found the country very safe as opposed to what was portrayed in the media. When we were toured in Hebron, we came across many children who were selling things like jewelry and got very happy when we gave them a small packet of chocolate. Seeing their state, I was very sad and felt that it was a waste that we did not prepare much to help the people there. Ever since, I have always wanted to come back and help in any way I could to Palestine.
Seeing this opportunity, I signed up for the ‘Volunteer in Palestine’ program at the Excellence Center with my younger sister. However, due to time constraints, we only signed up for a week. It was easy to travel from the Ben Gurion Airport to Hebron with the detailed steps on the Excellence Center website. The people here are also very helpful. When we took the sherut from Bethlehem to Hebron, one of the passengers helped us to translate in Arabic to the driver on where we wanted to go. When we reached the Excellence Center, we were warmly welcomed. The staff and other volunteers here are very friendly. They even prepared for us lunch! After travelling for more than 15 hours we were very tired and hungry, so we were really thankful and appreciated it.
One of the reasons I signed up for this program was because we would be provided with a homestay. I love to experience other people’s culture and with a homestay, we would definitely get to learn the culture here. Our host brother picked us up from the Excellence Center on the first day. We could not talk much due to the language barrier but towards the evening, our host sister came home and to our delight, she was fluent in English. We had dinner together with the family and spent many hours conversing with each other about our different culture and lifestyle. Despite our different background, I felt very comfortable with our host family. They always made sure that we felt at ease.
As we only signed up for a week, the staff here at the Excellence Center tried their best to make sure that we made full use of our short stay here. We attended basic conversational Arabic lessons. Even though we already had basic Arabic, the people in Hebron use a different dialect so it was very interesting to learn one. We were also scheduled to assist a teacher to teach English and also conduct a conversational English lesson. The staff here would also be bringing us to the Old City in Hebron. Even though it would be a very short trip, it is a very meaningful one and I hope to be able to visit Palestine in the future again.”