“One Month in West Bank, Palestine : Four weeks ago, I arrived in Hebron, West Bank and began my summer adventure. Despite these four weeks flying by, I am amazed by all that I have learned and experienced in only a short time. I’ve taught my first ever English course, travelled to historic sites, and gotten lost and found again countless times. Each experience has taught me a new lesson about this region or myself. Still, I have so much yet to learn about the politics, culture, and social environment in Palestine, and I find myself constantly surprised and amazed by this region and its people.
Coming to Hebron, West Bank was my first time travelling internationally by myself. In many ways, it was a huge act of independence and has taught me many lessons in looking after myself. Travel can be frustrating and worrisome regardless of where or with whom; coming to a place infamous for instability where a language barrier exists only compounds the stresses associated with travel. After only one month here, I have learned to travel safer and smarter. Additionally, I’ve learned how to take care of myself without familiar support systems and been responsible for the education of dozens of students.
One of the most important lessons that I have learned from my time in Palestine revolves around what many volunteers have come to call “Arab time.” For myself, coming from the United States which is an incredibly linear active society, Palestinian time functions very differently. Rather than following strict timeframes and schedules, work and social plans are much more flexible and impromptu. I have been asked to teach courses moments before a class begins, had to plan lessons on the fly, and come to appreciate the flexibility of deadlines. At first, this lack of set daily structure feels confusing, but I quickly learned to think on my feet and trust myself to figure things out. Although it doesn’t take long to get the hang of this way of life, it is essential to being successful in the new environment.
A final lesson that living in West Bank (Palestine) has taught me is how friendly and supportive the community here in Hebron, Palestine is. The rhetoric surrounding discussions of Middle Eastern society and culture often gives the impression that the region is entirely homogenous with little acceptance of new people and lifestyles. On the contrary, most of my experiences have left me surprised by how welcomed I felt. The other international volunteers and the Excellence Center staff have become like a small family, offering advice to one another and often going on small adventures with each other as friends. Likewise, my host family has become a huge support system that I can always turn to.
Despite being 4,000 miles from home, I am still surrounded by people who care for me and would be willing to lend a helping hand if I ever needed one. I have learned many life skills including how to be more independent, more adaptable and how to create lasting relationships with individuals I can trust. After only one month in West Bank, Palestine, I have learned so much from this experience and can only imagine what the next two months of this adventure will teach me.” This Article was written by Danielle who is from the USA and volunteering in Palestine in 2017