Why would an American want to come to Palestine “My name is Ben and I am a University student from North Carolina in the United States. I am seeking a degree majoring in History and Political Science and minoring in Arabic linguistics. I will be participating in the Teach English Speak Arabic program while at the Excellence Center. I have always been interested in the Arabic language and culture. This interest was supported by my Arabic studies at University. Kowing that I could not truly understand Arabic language and culture without firsthand experience I began to pursue studies in the Arab world to complement my studies.
I wanted to get that firsthand experience in the culture amd everyday life of this part of the world.That’s why I wanted to come here. As I searched for studies in the arab world, I found this program from the Center. I realized that a traditional study abroad at an Arab University could not fulfill my needs. Its more rigid structure would not allow me true firsthand experience of the day-to-day life here as well as the excellence center’s program would. This would hinder my study from a cultural perspective, which was my main reason for coming here. Because of all this I knew that the Excellence Center’s program was exactly what I was looking for. Not only could I learn Arabic and gain greater cultural awareness at the Center, but I could also give back to the community that is providing me with all this hospitality. I have always enjoyed helping others, so being able to help students and members of the community by teaching English attracted me to the program even more.
During my time in Palestine, I hope to increase my cultural understanding and better my intercultural skills as I interact with a completely foreign culture. I believe teaching English will help me in this as I will be viewing and interacting with this culture from a different perspective: in the clasroom. I also hope to further my arabic skills to the point that I may effectively interact with individuals in the streets of Hebron and the surrounding communities.
Coming to Palestine and what I found here
To be totally honest, traveling here was rather scary. It was my first major trip outside the United States and I had no idea what to expect from the culture here. What didn’t help was how poorly the western media portrays the area. But when I got here, I was completely suprised that the people here couldn’t be more friendly and welcoming. At first, I wasn’t too sure where exactly in Hebron I was trying to go, but the people around me were more than willing to help me figure it out. The night I arrived was during Ramadan. As I entered the city it was empty, almost like a ghost town. Everyone was eating dinner in their homes. I met Rafat (one of the main staff members at the center), his family, and some of the other volunteers for the center at dinner. Everyone there was so welcoming and also curious. They kept telling me to eat more while also asking me all these questions about me and where I was from. And when I left to go to my accomadations for the night, the streets were packed and Hebron’s night life had begun (a main event during Ramadan). It was amazing to see the city come to life like that and I was astounded and pleasantly suprised by everything I saw on my first day.