‘DO IT!’ — Kirollos Barsoum Shares His Reflections on Serve to Learn

Kirollos Barsoum, Serve to Learn "Class of 2011"
Kirollos Barsoum, Serve to Learn “Class of 2011,” shares a quiet moment with students.

With the April 15 deadline for Serve to Learn applications approaching fast, I thought you might want to hear about the program straight from people who’ve done it!

For those of you who might not already be familiar with Serve to Learn, it’s our unique summer program that brings people from all over the world to Egypt to teach kids basic English through fun activities. This year it runs July 4-26. Arabic and teaching skills are helpful but not critical; what’s most needed are respect, kind hearts, and high energy!

Kirollos Barsoum—yes, that’s him in the photo above!—volunteered for Serve to Learn in 2011. Today, he’s finishing up his MA in philanthropic studies and writing a thesis on “Philanthropy and Inter-Religious Interaction in the Coptic Orthodox Church.” I asked him to share his experiences, and here’s what he said:

For you, what was the most moving or life-changing part of Serve to Learn?

Working and living with a wonderful group of youth dedicated to fulfilling our Christian duty to love. That was the most touching, empowering, and hopeful part of the trip. Feeling the power of love is a transforming and inspirational experience that gives me the energy to keep going.

Did Serve to Learn deepen your understanding of Egypt and your roots?

Definitely, Serve to Learn was my first introduction to a part of Egypt I had never before experienced, the beauty and serenity of village life. Being in Cairo or Alexandria is nothing like spending time in an Egyptian village; people in the village are quick to love and quick to anger, there’s nothing adulterating their humanity. Being there helped me see where we as Copts get a lot of our customs, our superstitions, and our humor.

Given the chance, what would you have done more of during the program?

I would have visited other development organizations in the area. I think it is a good thing to know how and what other people are going about philanthropy in order to make comparisons and improve our own work.

What advice would you give anyone considering applying for Serve to Learn?

DO IT! Our history and traditions are too rich and valuable to forget! Understanding your roots gives you the strength to act out your values in the world.

Any final thoughts?

Coptic Orphans is a one-of-a-kind organization that needs to be imitated by more Copts. We have a very wealthy and educated diaspora; it’s time we use our resources and blessings to make Egypt a better place for all the valuable citizens of Egypt.

I hope everyone takes Kirollos’s advice and applies for Serve to Learn. Still have questions? You can learn more by reading the Serve to Learn FAQ, or by writing to us directly at info@copticorphans.org.

Still can’t get enough Serve to Learn promo material? Check out our new Serve to Learn video (courtesy of co-geniuses Fady Hanna and Mark Yacoub—thank you!) or absorb the “Top 5 Myths Why You Can’t Take Part in Serve to Learn Debunked.” To quote Kirollos… “DO IT!” And lastly… thank you, Lara Girgis, for the great shot of Kirollos with the kids!

PS  If you have a second and want to help the cause, please go to the top of this post and hit the “Like” button. Or if you’re already post-Facebook, whatever social media you use. Thanks!

About Nermien Riad

Nermien Riad founded Coptic Orphans in 1988 after volunteering for an orphanage in Cairo. When she saw that most of the children had living widowed mothers who simply couldn't afford to feed them, she gathered family and friends to sponsor children in Egypt. Today Coptic Orphans works through a network of 400+ church-based volunteers in Egypt, who visit fatherless families in their homes and make sure they get everything they need to unlock their full potential. That way, they don't have to get married off as child brides, work as 10-year old family breadwinners, or go to live at an institutional orphanage.