Why I am Volunteering in Palestine “My name is Karl and I am currently studying English Literature and Politics at the University of York, in the UK. In Palestine, I shall be assisting in the teaching of English to the local community, as well as improving the proficiency of my own Arabic. I have a plethora of reasons for volunteering in Palestine, here I shall list just a few of the reasons that make it such an incredible place to visit.
Firstly, Palestine has a rich and vibrant culture that becomes instantly infectious. I have travelled to various places and immersed myself in numerous cultures around the world, yet none compare to the selfless hospitality I have received from the Palestinian people. Although this is my first day in Al Khalil (this trip) I have already been reminded of the overwhelming generosity that is on offer to any visitor in the Holy Land. Upon crossing checkpoint 300 into Bethlehem, I am greeted immediately with helpful, smiling taxi drivers attempting to ascertain where you are going and vying with each other to offer the best possible price.
As the taxi leaves Bethlehem, the beautiful landscape absorbs you into a trance like appreciation of the environment. Thousands of years of history roll through your mind seamlessly with the pace of the vehicle. The abstract beauty serves as a paradoxical reminder of why this land has been sought by almost every major Empire since imperialism began. The gravitas of this thought creates an immediate respect for the Palestinian people and their efforts to hold on to their native land, a struggle that sadly continues to this very day. Yet despite this, the Palestinians are happy, generous and caring. A major feat no matter what your thoughts are on the continuing occupation.
As I exit the taxi next to the Excellence Center in Al Khalil, I am immediately greeted with an all familiar “Welcome” by the proprietor of the supermarket next door. Here he insists that I join him for coffee, and as we drink together we flip between Arabic and English as best we can, talking of family and the value of education. It soon transpires his sons are in the process of, or have, learnt English through the Excellence Center. We drink more coffee (you will be offered coffee and tea by almost everybody) and after a warm embrace I head to the Center.
These are just two of the incredibly small beauties of Palestine and its people. All of which have taken place in just the last two hours. Palestine has so much to offer any international visitor, and if I were to list all of them, you wouldn’t need to come and see it for yourself. For these reasons alone, I implore anybody who is thinking about travelling to Palestine not to hesitate, and start planning your trip straight away.”