Study Arabic in Palestine

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Join Our Family in Palestine and Germany

Welcome to the Excellence Center: People who are between 18 – 75 years old are eligible to participate in all of our programs in Palestine and Germany. All nationalities and majors are welcome! You do not have to have any degree to join us. The Excellence Center hosts internationals year-round. Participants decide when they would like to start and end their programs. We are very flexible when it comes to starting and ending dates.

About

The Excellence Center would like to invite you to participate in the Study Arabic Intensive Program in Hebron. The Arabic Program combines studying Arabic with an immersion into the Palestinian culture and history.

International participants study the Arabic language with Palestinian teachers in interactive ways. Language studies include learning the Palestinian dialect and Modern Standard Arabic. We offer Arabic courses for all levels from starters to advanced learners. The Excellence Center provides international students with all necessary books needed in the course.

The Study Arabic Program is a singular opportunity for students searching to make a unique difference in their lives. While studying Arabic in Hebron, they are also involved in community development activities that are organized by the Excellence Centre.

The program is an optimal opportunity that gives an intimate, first-hand experience of Palestinian life and the political realities of that life in Hebron

Highlights
  • Stay with a Palestinian family in Hebron
  • Engagement with Palestinian youth in cultural and educational activities
  • Visit unique tourist attractions with a non-touristic perspective
  • Live and engage in the Palestinian daily life
  • Meet new people and make new Palestinian and international friends

Questions & Answers

Reviews

94%
based on 83 reviews
  • Academics 9
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 15 of 83
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Vaclav
10/10

Individual Arabic Lessons

I really enjoyed the lessons and have made a substantial progress thanks to my great teacher. We designed the lessons together so that it fit my needs perfectly. The atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly and it was fun practicing Arabic with my teacher and the others in the center.

I liked the fact that the international students and volunteers meet there with locals studying English and am impressed with the work the center does for their community. I also appreciate very much the many tours and presentations we had, through which we got to know the city and the situation in Palestine in general.

Unlike the female students, who are living in host families, are the men sharing an apartment near the city center. This offers more flexibility and was a very nice experience, also because the owner and neighbour at the same time was very welcoming and invited us to spend time with him and his friends and family almost every evening.

On the weekends I had the opportunity to travel through Palestine, either with the other students, their host families or alone. I visited Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Jericho and the Dead See and was always impressed by the beauty of the places and the people’s hospitality. Everyone on the street is ready to answer your questions, give you directions and often even invite you for coffee. I felt very safe and welcome during my whole time in Palestine.

I was surprised to find out that the weather in Hebron is very pleasant even in the middle of summer, because of the relatively high altitude and low humidity, which doesn’t necessarily apply to other cities like Jericho.

Overall I had a great time and hope to come back again in future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alyssa
10/10

A truly rewarding experience

As a place to study Arabic, the Excellence Center is, as its name suggests, truly excellent. The classes are tailored directly to the level and needs of the students, and as such, they are structured in such a way that challenges students to think, learn, and excel in entirely new ways. This is largely due to the strength and experience of the staff and teachers, though credit must also be given to the warm and inclusive environment created by the students and international volunteers that come to the Center, no matter the length of their stay or their form of involvement.
A real strength of the Center is that the instruction does not stop at the classroom. As students, we have opportunities to visit places within Hebron like the old city, a kuffiyeh factory, a refugee camp, and even a settlement, among many others. There are even more places to explore outside of Hebron, including Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jericho, all of which are simple, inexpensive, and safe to reach. Prior to coming to Palestine, I received all of the usual, worried warnings about the security situation here, and though it is wise to be cautious in any situation (in any part of the world), I have felt entirely safe during my stay.
And more than feeling safe, I have been welcomed with open arms by so many of the people here. This is likely what I will remember the most about Palestine as a whole; it will not necessarily be the food or the weather (which is definitely a challenge in the middle of July), but the kindness and generosity of the people of Palestine. Included in this is, of course, my host family, every single member of which is incredible and kind and intelligent. They enhanced my experience here in nearly every way, and I am so grateful to have another family and another home to return to next time I visit Palestine.
On the whole, my experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron has been incredibly rewarding. That is not to say that there were no challenges - of course there were - but these challenges were mediated by the fact that being here is not about being comfortable, but about learning (sometimes difficult) lessons, both inside and outside of the classroom. I recommend anybody interested in taking on such challenges to give the Center a chance. I’m positive the experience will be well worth it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rosalind Dyveke
10/10

Intensive arabic course 2 weeks

I travelled to Palestine alone with no arabic experience. I have travelled alot, but not alone like this before, I was excited and also a little bit terrified of traveling alone in a different country. At the Excellence Center they where very welcomming and since the center is small it was easy to get to know both the teachers and other international students. At the center I got private arabic classes, and that was good for my learning, since the teaching went forward in my own pace. I learned a lot in two weeks, but wished i could have stayed longer. After two weeks it was really sad leaving as I have just started to get to know the people at the excellence center and also my hostfamily better.
The picture I have added is a picture of me wearing a Palestinian dress my hostmom helped me pick out.

Yes, I recommend this program
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giverny
10/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

I spent 1 month studying intensive Arabic in Palestine. When I started I was a complete beginner, but thanks to fantastic teaching I am now comprehensive in Arabic, after just one month. I stayed in a Palestinian host family which was a brilliant experience as not only was I studying Arabic in the day, but I was also able to speak Arabic in the evening with my family, therefore. Further, my host family were so welcoming and taught me a lot about Palestinian life and culture. Before coming to Palestine, I was slightly worried about safety and travelling, but Palestinians are extremely welcoming and friendly, I have never felt unsafe being here. Thank you to all the wonderful people I have met at the centre, you have made my experience unforgettable and I hope to return to Palestine again soon!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sophia
10/10

One month as an Intensive Arabic Student in Hebron

My name is Sophia and I am a BA student from the University of Saint Andrews studying International Relations. Therefore, it was extremely important to me not just to understand Palestine from the perspective of a textbook, but to experience the language, politics and culture for myself. In the Excellence Centre I chose to participate in the Intensive Arabic course for the whole month of August 2018.
During my time at the Excellence Centre, my knowledge and fluency regarding the Palestinian dialect increased tremendously. After studying Classical Arabic for a few months two years before, I arrived knowing close to nothing. However, with the fantastic one-on-one teaching which is largely directed by what you want to learn, I have left being able to hold conversations with natives here.
The environment in the Centre is extremely friendly, you meet many Palestinian children, teachers and international volunteers and students. I know that I have made life-long friends here and I plan to return as soon as possible!
The centre also provides excursions around Hebron, such as to the Fawwar refugee camp, glass factories and the centre of commerce. These experiences were some of my most valuable and to visit the refugee camp was incredibly eye-opening and moving.
Hebron itself is a city filled with culture and tradition. Although conservative at times, I would highly recommend staying here as oppose to other, more Western Palestinian cities as here you can truly witness and experience Palestine in its most original form.
Staying with a host family was an amazing experience. They have greeted us with open arms from the start, ensuring our comfort and helping us practice our Arabic. It is also a great opportunity to experience Palestinian home-cooking which is as authentic and delicious as I had imagined. Not only will you be able to eat with your host family for dinner, there are many restaurants and cafes where you can buy a variety of food: including falafel, maqloubeh, kebab and Shawerma, for very low prices.
During the weekends, the friends that I had made here and myself would visit different cities in Israel and Palestine. My favourites would be the bustling, multi-cultural city of Nazareth and the beautiful Golan Heights where we were able to visit the Sea of Galilee and look over to Syria.
My overall experience in the Excellence Centre and Palestine has been fantastic, although I felt very nervous at first, after a day I realised how safe, comfortable and friendly the country and the people are. The teaching is extremely high-quality, and the opportunity to travel is a huge bonus. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is on the fence, you won’t regret it!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Carly
10/10

Learn Arabic in Palestine

I am a Ph.D. candidate and teacher educator, and I have wanted to learn Arabic for several years -- not for academic or employment purposes, but simply for fun and to be able to communicate with Arabic speakers in my city. I came to the Excellence Center to study Palestinian Arabic in an immersive environment. I chose the Center over other programs because of the flexible start and end dates, the personalized individual courses, and the opportunity to live with a host family. I also appreciated that the foreigners at the Center represented a range of countries, backgrounds, and ages.

When I came here, I could read and write the alphabet (very slowly), but I had no ability to communicate, and I don’t think I could write a single sentence. I was fortunate to have a teacher with whom I “clicked” and who was very good at teaching a beginner. I found that she was very perceptive about my needs and preferences as a learner. After just a couple of days, I started recognizing words she was teaching me when I listened to conversations around me. Now, after five weeks, I have made significant improvements in listening, speaking, reading, and writing Arabic. While I still have a long way to go, I now have a much better foundation. When I return home, I will be better able to engage the Arabic speakers around me in conversation. (I evaluate language teachers for a living, so I am pretty difficult to impress.)

I was lucky to live with two different host families, as my first family had a logistical issue when some members came home after living out of town. While I didn’t want to leave them, I really enjoyed getting to experience two different lifestyles (and I still got to visit them). It’s difficult to express how open and welcoming my families were. They included me in all of their activities and always made sure I had anything I needed. Members of both families enjoyed teaching me about Islam and the Quran.

Beyond your host family, you will meet friendly people everywhere you go in Hebron. For example, I was walking to school one morning during my first week when a car stopped and the woman in the passenger seat asked if I wanted a ride; she felt that it was too hot for me to be walking. [Though I was here in the summer and it was certainly hot, it wasn’t unbearable. I generally wore linen pants, t-shirts with ¾ sleeves, and a scarf. (Make sure your clothes are made from breathable fabrics!)] While getting in a car with strangers would be very unusual and certainly not advisable in my home country, I accepted her offer. I then learned that she and her husband were Palestinian Americans who were here visiting family in Hebron and Halhul. I went to a relative’s home with them to pick up their daughter, met their little nieces and nephews who all wanted to shake my hand, then was driven right to the door of the Center -- but not before they had stopped to get falafel for me, because they were concerned that I hadn’t yet eaten breakfast.

Life here is very easy for foreigners, and Hebron is much more than what you will see on YouTube or Twitter. To answer everyone’s question, yes, it is safe. Don’t go walking around the border between H1 and H2 after Friday prayers, but I can’t think of anything else to warn you about. I look forward to telling people back home about Palestine and especially about Hebron. After leaving Hebron to visit other cities like Bethlehem and Jerusalem, I was always happy to return “home.” I had several conversations with other foreigners at the Center about how comfortable we feel here.

Some recommendations for a successful experience studying Arabic at the Center:
* You will get the most out of your intensive Arabic study if you review and practice each day. Find time and space to study -- which may not be possible at home.
* Don’t neglect informal learning opportunities like attending weddings, meeting extended family, and so on. Just as people will want to practice their English with you, they will also be happy to help you practice your Arabic. Adapt as much as possible to your family’s schedule, diet, and so on. Stay in Palestine as long as your schedule allows; let yourself have time to “just hang out”.
* In terms of interacting with the other foreigners at the Center, you can be as social or independent as you want to be. However, you are likely to find some good friends and/or travel buddies here!

I will miss the people of Hebron terribly, and I plan to return to the Excellence Center in the future. I would be happy to answer questions from any prospective Arabic students about my experiences here.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sigrid
9/10

2 weeks in Hebron

My name is Sigrid and I went to Hebron and the Excellence Center to refresh my Arabic skills before taking up my studies in Arabic after a break of 1.5 years. I also wanted to improve my skills in colloqial Arabic and become better at speaking in general.
My teacher was Maryam and we met three hours a week and focused on basics and to reactivate much of the vocabulary and expressions I had forgotten. We also concentrated on specifically Palestinian vocab and expressions.
My experience at the center has been really great. The people are very nice and welcoming and Hebron itself is a nice city for foreigners because there are not too many tourists so you can practice your Arabic in the street, the shops, and the taxis as well :-)

How can this program be improved?
More inclusion of songs, music and videos maybe, but that might be easier if I'd been there for longer time.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emma
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

As an immersive experience with the Hebron Excellence Center, the staff and the resources provided were of great quality. Arabic exposure was ideal, in my experience, due to Palestinian hospitality and the opportunities provided to speak throughout the course of studies. Arabic teachers here are also amazing with providing conversational practice to the students and helping with vocabulary retention and grammar correction. The visits to different areas also lent us a greater insight into Palestinian culture and the politics that make up a great part of the daily life in this area. It was overall a very rewarding experience and one that will continue to be valued.

How can this program be improved?
A greater amount of organization and progress tracking would maybe aid the program in visualizing concrete results for the intensive Arabic program. A more meticulous tailoring to individual needs would greater complement the amazing individual attention that the Center already has to offer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Lauren
9/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

I had a lovely experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron. The Arabic classes were very good and I learned a lot in a short time and feel much more comfortable in my Arabic. My host family was incredibly nice and allowed me to eat so much delicious local food and try dishes I hadn't before. The program also allowed me lots of free time to explore the city and travel around Palestine to see some of the sites there. Ibraheim was a great teacher and tons of fun to work with. Also the other internationals at the center were lovely.

How can this program be improved?
My host family was a bit far away in Halhul and I think it would have been easier to stay somewhere withing walking distance of the center. Also I think they deserved to be compensated more for their efforts.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Qing
10/10

Incredible experience in Palestine with Excellence Center

My name is Qing, I am a student from China. I have spent six weeks learning Arabic with Excellence Center in Hebron. I am living with other volunteers and students in a dormitory. Though the wi-fi in our dorm is not very stable and water is some time cut off, the place and people are still lovely. My program is intensive Arabic course, I spent three to four hours with my tutor. The Arabic course tends out very worth and interesting. And I use rest of my time to join the tours provided by the center.

Staying Hebron also provide me a great chance to explore the local culture and have deeper understanding of the Palestine-Israel conflict. There are many tours provided by the center every week, from visit the old city of Hebron to local university and factory. Though it not a full-scale culture emersion, I obtain many facts and conduct many communications with locals. And as the biggest city in the West Bank, it is very easy use Hebron as base to travel around the West Bank and the transportation here is quite cheap and convenient. And it is safe to stay and traveling around the West Bank. The people in Hebron is also very friendly and even “militant” hospitality.

However, the most important part for me is learning Arabic. I have one-on-one class with my tutor, Shayma, 5 days a week. So, it is intense, but not overwhelming. Because it is unlike normal language class in university that strict follow the text book, we will spend a hour and half to talking about anything that interesting us that including local customs, culture, Palestinian cuisine and some politics. And we also learn all the basic grammar and useful words and phrases that really helpful during the daily life. Though 6 weeks are still a short time regarding learning a new language, the learning here is efficient and helpful for further Arabic study.

It is worthwhile to take the opportunities to study Arabic in the Excellence Center and explore the real situation here in the West Bank. In a word, if I have chance I will visit this place again.

How can this program be improved?
No need to improve.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Wietske
10/10

Experience at the Excellence Center

My name is Wietske. I am a twenty year old university student from the Netherlands. This summer I participated in the Studying Arabic in Palestine program for five weeks. This means that I had five three-hour one-on-one classes every week with my teacher Afnan. I have to say, deciding to participate in this program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I improve my Arabic a lot, because of the amazing, personally tailored program, I also made a lot of friends, saw lots of places around Palestine and stayed with the best family.

Starting with my classes, Afnan ,my teacher, was amazing. She was patient, kind and very professional, but most importantly we had a lot of fun and developed a beautiful friendship I hope will last for many years to come. She made sure to incorporate all sorts of exercises in my classes that would stimulate both reading, writing and dialogue, sometimes in conventional ways, and sometimes through fun games or drawing. I couldn’t have wished for any more.

The whole environment of the Excellence Center also really enhanced my learning experience. There would always be people around willing to have a chat in Arabic with me, and we went on many fun trips with the volunteers and center personnel, including the old city, kaffieh factory, Kharas, glass and ceramics factory, Moscobia church, and more. Next to being a great place for studying Arabic, the center is definitely also a great place to make friends with interesting and kind people from all over the world.

I did a quite a bit of travelling through Palestine during my time at the center. I went to Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the villages surrounding Hebron. Travelling is very easy, especially since you will find yourself often going with a group of volunteers/students. I also went on a trip to Jerusalem by myself, which was totally fine as well. I guess I never really felt unsafe travelling around Palestine or in Hebron. As a woman traveling alone of course you are going to find yourself in situations none of your male friends will be able to relate to. My one advice here would be to really make sure you are dressed conservatively. Not only will this prevent a lot of stares, which you are inevitably going to get, it will also make you feel more confident and in place in Hebron.

Last but definitely not least my family in Hebron was the absolute best. They made sure I always felt welcome, happy and well-fed. I stayed in the family together with another student, which has led to a wonderful friendship, next to of course the wonderful friendships I have made within the family, especially with Marwa, who I will never forget.

Over all I think it is clear that my time in Palestine has been absolutely wonderful and unforgettable. I am so grateful for my time in this beautiful, welcoming, friendly place and I wish for you to have the same experience. Of course I can do nothing but highly recommend!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kenji
10/10

flexible and engaging cooking class

I really enjoyed my time at the excellence center taking a weeklong cooking course with complementary Arabic lessons. Each day, my teacher and I went grocery shopping together and then cooked delicious and interesting meals. Even the recipes that I didn't personally enjoy as much were fun to make, and I hope to share the stories and flavors of this culture and these people with my family and friends back home. I would recommend the staff and community of the center to anyone interested in studying Arabic, Palestinian cooking, or the political situation on the ground here in Hebron. I absolutely hope to return in the future to this warm home away from home.

How can this program be improved?
I hope this center can continue to grow into larger facilities and continue to make even more of an impact on the people of Khalil and the globe.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emily
10/10

My experience with the Excellence Center in Hebron

If you're looking to learn Arabic, please come to the Excellence Center. Everyone here is very relaxed and welcoming, and prior knowledge of Arabic is not necessary. I have spent just one week learning here at the Excellence Center, and, in just this short time, I have learned and experienced so much. Both the culture of Palestine and the Palestinian dialect are incredibly beautiful, and the people are welcoming and helpful around every corner.

At the Center, you can go on excursions in and around the city every day, and the trip to get to Hebron is not difficult. The atmosphere here is very relaxed and friends are made easily. You also have the opportunity to live with a host family, which allows you to further your cultural understanding and practice Arabic every day.

I've learned more in the amazing week than ever before in my studies. I've also made life-long friends. In the future, I will definitely come back to the Excellence Center to participate in the volunteer program and improve my Arabic knowledge. I hope to see you here!

-Emily Roberts

Yes, I recommend this program
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Joanne
9/10

My experience in Palestine

My name is Joanne, and I’m a British student studying Arabic at the Excellence Centre in Hebron.
I have spent the last three weeks living with a host family, taking part in intensive lessons during the mornings and exploring the city and surrounding areas in the rest of the day. Hebron is a great city for a base; it’s fascinating to wander through the old city and experience the reality of the settlements and how they affect the southern side. It’s a regional centre, with shops, markets and restaurants of every kind imaginable.
It is very easy to explore the rest of the West Bank too; the public transport is cheap and usually friendly, and despite restrictions on Palestinian-vehicular travel by Israeli checkpoints, Hebron to Ramallah is just under two hours by servees. The Excellence Centre organise a ton of trips each week – either to local places like the last remaining keffiyeh factory or the Maskobiyeh church, or to areas further afield, like Jericho and the Dead Sea, or to Bethlehem. The staff are really lovely and
The chief purpose of my stay in Hebron was to learn Arabic, so each morning I’ve had 3 hours of lessons with a wonderful tutor. Usually the classes are on a 1-2-1 basis, but my university friend and I have ours together – this is helpful because we can revise vocabulary and classwork together afterwards. We’ve covered a lot of material; basically we re-covered all of the basic grammar again and addressed a few topics such as human rights, future plans, marriage (!) and Palestinian cuisine. Both of us had been learning Modern Standard Arabic at university, but since no-one actually speaks MSA, we decided to focus on amiyya. Conversations with local shopkeepers, waiters and taxi-drivers has been getting much easier over the course of our stay – it is rewarding to be able to communicate in Arabic rather than switching back to English!
A number of friends from the UK were concerned about security issues and my personal safety when travelling around Palestine; I was also somewhat apprehensive about what the situation here might be. But the reality is that most of the time there is no overt difference between the lives of the locals here and those who live in other Arab countries – of course, the occupation means that there are restrictions for Palestinians, that many of them find themselves unable to travel to work or visit relatives in other areas of Palestine or even abroad because of new checkpoints, and it is impossible to drive anywhere without coming across settlements or Israeli military bases – but the lives still go on. They still go to school, go shopping in the evenings on the ein sarah street, attend university, work in every kind of business and go on day trips to amusement parks or other villages and towns. It’s been a right privilege to have lived with a host family in the north of the city, close to the main university, and see the familiar pattern of school term-time played out in another culture! The family are very welcoming – as are most of the people were have met here.
I thoroughly recommend the Excellence Centre to anyone who wants to visit Palestine, learn Arabic, meet wonderful people and eat awesome food.

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps with a member of staff meeting the students in Jerusalem to take a servees together - lots of the international students were given wrong information by Israeli bus drivers, who said that there was no direct transport available from Jerusalem to Hebron. This is not true, but the Israeli bus drivers wanted us to go to Bethlehem or Efrat first and then get a taxi.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Colter
10/10

Amazing Experience

I am Colter, a Canadian Master of Arts Student at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. My experience of the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine, has been incredibly rewarding. The decision to study Arabic in Palestine has been fulfilling, not only because of the high level of professionalism and enthusiasm with which the lessons are conducted, but also because of the chance to continually practice and develop my Arabic while casually speaking to people at the Center, in the city, or at my host family residence.
Not only has the Excellence Center’s program given me the opportunity to intensively study the Arabic language, but it has also afforded me numerous memorable encounters with Palestinian culture and society. The atmosphere at the Center has been welcoming, inclusive, and learning-friendly. Living in the Center of Hebron city with a Palestinian host family has furthermore allowed me to directly connect with regular Palestinian life and traditions. The warm hospitality, delicious food (falafel, shawarma and knaffeh), and weather have been wonderful. I have also been thankful for the opportunities organized by the Center to travel around Palestine; while here I have visited not only Hebron, but also Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and Jerusalem. Along the way, I have made numerous friends, both local Palestinians and fellow students, volunteers and lecturers.
I have furthermore welcomed the many opportunities provided by the Center to further earnestly explore various aspects of historical and contemporary Palestinian life, in addition to the nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict. As such, I highly recommend the Excellence Center to anyone who wishes to study Arabic, volunteer, or grow in their understanding of Palestine. It is worth every moment.

How can this program be improved?
No improvement required
Yes, I recommend this program

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Meet the Staff

About The Excellence Center

The Excellence Center was established in June 2011 as a youth initiative to offer educational and community services to its diverse group of internationals and Palestinians. It is located in the main heart of Hebron on Ein Sarah street which is under...