The majority of community development activities and English teaching classes take place in the afternoons. For this reason, typically, volunteers spread the three hours of Arabic teaching per week provided by the Program, across two mornings of 1.5 hour periods.
Although the majority of volunteers in Palestine choose to learn dialect with our native speaking staff in order to develop their abilities to communicate with locals, interns can also elect to study Fusha (MSA, Modern Standard Arabic).
Lesson time tables are relatively flexible, and can be adapted according to individuals’ needs, and one day of holiday per week which, (in addition to Fridays when the Centre is closed according to custom) is scheduled on a week by week basis.
Social life is a vital part of a volunteer’s experience at the EC and the Centre makes sure internationals and staff members feel welcome. Community at the Centre, begins in the Kitchen. The kitchen is where the working day starts, with a traditional Palestinian breakfast prepared by staff for local employees and internationals. A chat over falafel, hummus, Baba ganoush, cake and flat bread is a great way to start the day and a good opportunity to get to know everyone working with the Centre. In addition to occasional lunches prepared by staff members, Thursday evenings are reserved for preparing and sharing a traditional Palestinian meal, prepared in the Centre kitchen, or barbecued on the roof.
EC life also extends beyond the Centre and the working day week, with trips to local historical and cultural sites during the week, and, on Fridays, visits to locations further afield. Hiking in the Bethlehem village of Battir for instance, participating in a visit to Al-Shahada street, or to local handicrafts workshops, are important opportunities to get to know Palestinian culture and history from knowledgeable locals.
In addition to trips organised by the Centre as a whole, members of staff, as well as host families, often invite volunteers to family gatherings and other occasions such as weddings. These are unique opportunities for interns to develop their understanding of local culture, to enjoy Palestinian hospitality and develop friendships with locals. On a day to day basis, local Hebron coffee bars, pastry shops and falafel cafes are good places for internationals to meet new people, while shopping in the lively Old City is a great local trip with friends.
Many internationals also frequent to the local gym during their time working at the EC, which, though not segregated, is reserved for men in the evenings and women during the day. The gym is located just a few minutes walk from the Centre, and sessions can be booked on an individual basis, quite cheaply. With the wealth and diversity of experience and knowledge developed at the EC, volunteers represent a valuable resource both for Palestinians, and the international community.
For this reason, in addition to teaching and other, minor administrative responsibilities, volunteers are required to contribute one article per day to the Centre website.
The EC is proud to offer volunteers with the programme a unique opportunity to consolidate previous experience and develop new skills whilst contributing to the life of the local area, and a fruitful discourse between Palestine and the international community.