: Marybel Galvan

Country: United States

Education: Bachlor’s in Political Science International Relations track

3Which programs did you participate in at the Excellence Center and why did you want to participate in them?

I participated in the Arabic learning and Volunteer programs inPalestine at the Excellence Center. I wanted to learn Arabic, so for the first month I was in the intensive Arabic course. The course was difficult at times and aggravating, but I enjoyed the program. Before coming to Palestine I didn’t have any experience with the Arabic language. I am not proficient in the language, but I have learned a lot from the courses in the center and from interacting in the streets with merchants and the general public.For my second month in Hebron I volunteered in Palestine to help teach English to the students in the center.2-Did you feel safe in Palestine?

Yes, There was never a reason during my stay that I felt unsafe. For the most part as a woman there are does and don’ts when staying in Palestine. Hebron is a very conservative city and most women wear hijabs and long articles of clothing to cover up their bodies. Also, there are different standards as well, for example woman can’t stay out late when staying with a host family. As an International I could get away with wearing jeans and a t-shirt, just make sure the shirt has quarter sleeves and covers up your stomach, chest and back. The Jeans should not have holes to wear skin is visible, because this will warrant unwanted attention.

-Describe a typical day in Hebron, Palestine.

A typical day in Hebron is what you make of it. Most of my time was spent studying Arabic at the center or at home. For the most part my day would start around 9:30am by walking down to the center and arriving around 10am for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of bread, humus, fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, cheese, eggs, olive oil and sesame seeds with herbs. After breakfast I would have an Arabic class to attend or if I was volunteering wait around until one of the teachers asked for my help. Once my day is over at the center I would hangout with other volunteers at the coffee shops or some restaurant around Ein Sara street and then go home.

1-What did you like most about the Palestinian culture and society?

I enjoyed seeing how hospitable the culture is . No matter where I went in Palestine the Palestinian people were very welcoming. I would get invited to student’s houses for dinner or just for tea, which turned into dinner or some sort of a meal. It the streets I would be asked by store clerks or the butcher if I wanted a tea or coffee while I waited for the things I purchased. Everywhere I went I was welcomed with open arms and treated very well by my hosts and the people on the street. This hospitality applies to all of the areas I visited in Palestine, not just Hebron.