Meet Matti Suomenaro From Finland

13445229_1545403439101965_5154741120409543349_n“I am involved with the Teach English and Speak Arabic program at the Excellence Center in Hebron. Although I am from Finland, I study Arabic and Middle Eastern Politics in the United States and because of this, visiting Palestine has been a long time goal of mine. Even though it is a not the biggest country in the region, Palestine carries significant weight it her. It would be impossible to study Middle Eastern politics without studying Palestine. While travelling around Palestine and its ancient landscape, one feels connected to both ancient and modern history. There are few other places where the land tells you a story that took place 2000 years ago while making you a part of modern history.

During my time at the Excellence Center, I work together with Palestinians to help them achieve their dreams. Given the precarious political environment in Palestine, access to good quality English education can be limited and hard to achieve. Education is a key tool to helping young Palestinians build a successful future for themselves. Investment in one’s education in education cannot be lost nor taken away. If a family sends a their child to learn skills and English, those skills cannot be taken away from that child the same way a house can be taken away.

I am very passionate about learning Arabic, but there is only so much we can learn from books.  Language does not exist in a vacuum. The people who speak it, their history, identity, and their sense of place and belonging is an important part of learning a language. I might be here volunteering as a teacher, but in many ways, I am also a student.

We all want our work to be meaningful and make difference in the world. The youth of Palestine is the future of Palestine. As a Finn, I strongly believe that democracy and peace are built on the shoulders of educated citizens. Helping young Palestinians achieve their goals in English is a central part of this process. By working together with a group of motivated teachers and students, we can make difference.”