The benefits of staying with a host family: Would you like to have a Palestinian family? At the Excellence Center, volunteers are given the opportunity of staying with a Palestinian host family. There are many benefits to this, first one obviously being that you’ll constantly be exposed to an Arabic speaking environment which can greatly enhance your language level. Other benefits include the opportunity to get a unique insight into Palestinian daily life.
Irene, volunteer from Spain says:
“The best thing about living with a hostfamily is all the nice moments you share together with them. I love how sometimes when I stay up reading in my room late at night, my host family comes up and gives me a cup of tea, it’s very sweet. Only one person in my family speaks English so I also get a lot of chances to practice my Arabic and since I participate in their daily routines, I get to learn a lot of Arabic phrases that I might not have learnt in a classroom setting.”
Many students who come to the Excellence Center have some knowledge of Arabic from university or a language institute but they can’t say basic phrases such as “I am hungry” or the names of household articles such as forks, spoons, plates etc. This is because by learning Arabic from a classroom setting you’re not necessarily learning the vocabulary people use in their daily lifes. This is something which can easily be helped by staying with a host family since you will essentially live the language.
But maybe more importantly than just language learning in itself, living with a family allows you to connect with the locals. There are many tourists who come to Palestine to see famous sights such as the church of Nativity in Betlehem and the Dead Sea in Jericho, but how many how those tourists really get to experience Arab culture? Whenever you travel to a new place it’s very easy to fall back to your own customs and only socialize with people from your own culture. The Excellence center is no exception to this since we have a lot of volunteers from western countries who work together, however we believe that it’s very important for volunteers to also make friends with the local people here, and what better way do this than by living with an Arab family?
Living with a Palestinain host family will not only benefit you, but also your Arab hosts who are eager to get know someone from a different culture. The experience is mutual. Just as you get to know new customs from your host family they will also learn about your customs by interacting with you. This way, living with a host family not only benefits the volunteer, but Palestine society as a whole.