“I am originally from Canada and have spent the last seven years learning various languages and studying culture and sociology. I currently live in Germany completing my MA in “transcultural studies”, a combination of literature and sociology, regarding culture from the standpoint of mixture and movement as opposed to concrete boundaries. Applications of this degree are in the area of immigration, international relations or language teaching.As my degree requires me to spend a semester in another country either studying or doing an internship, the TESA programme was a perfect fit for me to both learn Arabic – which I see as very useful for working for new immigrants and refugees in Germany – and gain work experience in an intercultural setting.
It is my first time in Palestine and the Middle East and so it was important for me to have help getting accustomed to the culture and daily life as well as everyday tasks. Leading up to my arrival in Hebron I felt very supported and encouraged by the staff who assured me that everything would be taken care of for my arrival. Indeed, arriving at the Excellence Centre for the first time I was greeted warmly by the staff and students and immediately felt well cared for. My host family has also been welcoming, taking me along to a family wedding on the first evening, which was both exciting and a little overwhelming. As most of the family members speak very little English, I can see that this will be the perfect atmosphere to learn Arabic fast.
Prior to arriving I was well informed about the political situation in Palestine but it was important for me to experience exactly what it is like to live here. I felt that the representation in the media was often one-sided and had the feeling that there was more to the story than I was getting. Empathy and understanding are so crucial in breaking down conflict and by being here I am able to communicate to the people I know all over the world and help correct their misconceptions. I am looking forward to learning a lot, both about the Palestinian situation in general and about worldviews that are different from my own. In this way I am hoping to return richer in experience and wisdom and ready to share them with my own communities. Melanie Lipinski from Canada who is participating in the Teach English, Speak Arabic program in Hebron, Palestine 2015