Lucie from Czech Republic decided to volunteer in Hebron as a way of gaining a greater understanding of the local Palestinian culture and to have the opportunity to learn Arabic in a native country. Another motivation for volunteering in Palestine was that Lucie is originally from the Czech Republic, which was once under occupied rule. Stemming from this, Lucie had a desire to experience what it is like to live under occupation.
The decision to come to Hebron was partly influenced by her desire to visit Palestine in a place that is not overrun by tourists. This then allows to have a more authentic experience of the Palestinian culture. And following on from this, the lack of tourists means that it is easier to gain a greater grasp on the political situation and the impact that it has on the city’s residents to a far greater degree.
Lucie decided to apply for a volunteer position at the Excellence Center as it was one of the most well advertised organisations that took volunteers in Hebron. The website was clear and gave an excellent description of the position and what the role would consist of, and also gave previous volunteers experiences to prepare you.
Stephanie from Australia said that Palestine has always been a place that has held a fascination for Stephanie. This was because the language, the culture, and the people are incredibly different from anything she had experienced. In order to truly experience Palestine in an immersive way that would allow her to be of some use, she decided to apply for an internship program at the Excellence Center.
Throughout Stephanie’s university degree, a Bachelor of International Studies, she had the opportunity to briefly study the Middle East, including Palestine. But studying and understanding a region are two different things, and she felt that her education was not complete without experiencing it herself. Palestine was chosen specifically as it is a deeply misunderstood region, and it is hard to gain an accurate understanding of Palestine from the outside.
Stephanie chose to apply for an internship at the Excellence Centre as she believed that she would gain valuable knowledge from working here. Interning at the Excellence Center allows her to provide some assistance to the local community by assisting in teaching English to Palestinian students. And as a part of the program, she is also given lessons in Arabic, both in classical and the local Palestinian dialect. This then allows her to engage in a deeper way with the culture and the people. As she is placed with a Palestinian family for the duration of her stay, this provides a fantastic opportunity to improve her Arabic skills.