For keen volunteers who have worked in Israel, Excellence Centre offers a great opportunity to get to know the ancient city of Hebron and the rich surrounding terrain, from the archeological park of Mamre to the vinyards of Halhoul.
Centre Manager, Rafat Shantir said, ‘We have hosted a lot of people who have volunteered previously in Israel. Volunteers who have been working in Israel are often interested in getting to know Palestine and to experience the historical and cultural richness of Hebron’, he said.
Sara, 23, from the UK, who volunteered in Israel before coming to the Excellence Centre said, ‘I chose to volunteer in Jerusalem for the historical and cultural significance of the place. After hearing what Hebron offered, I decided to stay in the region an extra week to visit. After an incredible trip to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem whilst volunteering in Israel’, she said, ‘I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see Hebron’.
Hebron is not only one of the oldest cities in the world, but also one of the Four Holy Cities for Muslims and the Second most important city in Judaism. Home of the Cave of the Patriarchs (the burial site of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs), the ancient Ibrahimi Mosque, and Haram-al-Rama, the ancient city boasts a hefty handful of unmissable sights.
Apart from a sure way of getting a taste of famous Palestinian hospitality through an inevitable invitation to tea, getting lost in Hebron’s labyrinthine streets is also a good way of starting to unravel the city’s long history.
With a quick scan of Wikipedia, Hebron reveals in its present shape, a rich tapestry of the great historical epochs that have shaped it.
The cityscape is still dominated by Mamluk era (1260-1517) architecture, interspersed with the dynamic lines of the Ottoman style which grew from it, of domes, semi-domes, and vaults.
The details of a dizzying array of cultural and historical epochs are the reward of a closer look at the oldest parts of the ancient city. The structure at the Cave of the which has been, since the Arab-Muslim retaking of the city in 1187, a mosque was, at the time of King Herod, a great wall, and with the Crusades (1099), a church.
After a day sight-seeing, there’s plenty to do in the city. Twenty years ago, the Old City was crumbling, as curfews and restrictions reduced the population to just 400. After various projects undertaken in the area, from TIPH to the Hebron Rehabitation committee’s work there, the area has been dramatically revitalised. With large scale renovation projects and mass movement of people back into the city, the area is buzzing with life.
‘It’s great to be teaching in an area that seems to be moving in a really positive direction’, Sara said. ‘Our students are really keen to learn to use English to communicate with internationals and get a good job, and that’s without a doubt partly made possible by the atmosphere of the city. The KFC here, maybe slightly strangely, hints at something positive to come’.