‘God’s Presence Infiltrated Life’ — Andrew Awad Recalls Serve to Learn

Andy
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II speaks with Andrew Awad on July 12, 2014, at a special meeting with Serve to Learn volunteers.

Heads up! The last day to apply for the Jan. 16-Feb. 7 Serve to Learn is November 15!

Serve to Learn is a life-changing , three-week trip to Egypt that brings together youth from all over the world to teach loving, inspiring, and adorable children basic English.  Arabic and teaching skills are helpful but not necessary; just be ready for some hard work, lots of love, and to be forever changed!

Today, so you can hear about the program from someone who did it, I’m bringing you an interview with 2014 Serve to Learn volunteer Andy Awad from Houston.

Andy went to the University of Texas at Austin and studied kinesiology and health science. He’s currently in Pittsburgh studying dentistry, and he plans to use his profession “to serve the Lord.” Andy has a “personal conviction of the importance of the lay person in the function of the Body of Christ” that drives his quest for service.

Andy’s thoughts are part of a series of interviews on Serve to Learn, a program we’ve been running for over a decade. Here, in addition, are interviews with volunteers DavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and Mirelle.

Here’s what Andy had so say about Serve to Learn 2014:

What would you say are the biggest differences between life as an Serve to Learn volunteer and your life back home?

One of the differences I noticed right away is that I was almost never bored. Our schedules were filled and there was rarely a dull moment. However, the main difference I noticed and enjoyed was that there weren’t many distractions and very little to worry about. This was amazing. Back home, there are 100 different things demanding my attention on any given day. When there isn’t, I have 100 different ways to just throw my time away. In Egypt it was different. I had a sense of purpose and God’s presence infiltrated life as I met the humble, loving people of El Barsha.

Did you find any similarities between your family at home and some of the people you saw while you were in Egypt? Did that surprise you?

One difference that I noticed immediately was that their g’s turn to j’s. This took some getting used to and by the end I was definitely more fluent in sa-eedy. The food and sense of humor, however, were the same. Egyptians always find a way to get their daily dose of laughter.

When you tell your friends about your summer, what stories do you tell most? Why?

I tell the stories of meeting Pope Tawadros, swimming in the Nile, el tar, eating mangos, Ansena, and about Akh Jerjes, the painter. Last but not least, I share the story of doing yoga on the rooftop as mohajabeen to scare away some boys spying on the ladies.

What was your favorite thing about the trip?

My favorite part of the trip was meeting the children we taught at their homes. Although, if there was a way to meet all the kids specifically from my class it would have been better. Meeting and connecting with them on a closer level in their homes allowed me to imagine myself in their shoes.

For people unsure about going on Serve to Learn, how would you convince them?

I would tell them this: Serve to Learn was a very enlightening experience. It forced me to reconsider what was important to me, and even helped me to better understand God’s purpose for me here. Also, by the end of the trip my views on Egypt changed drastically. I found it to be a much more beautiful place. Not because of its economy, political turmoil, or corruption, but because of its people and how God worked in them. The memories I made there will definitely last.

You can apply now for Serve to Learn; the November 15 deadline is practically here! Don’t forget that applications for the July 3-25 session are also out! If you still have questions, you can learn more by reading the Serve to Learn FAQ, or by writing to us directly at info@copticorphans.org.

Also, you can watch His Holiness encourage young people to serve the children in Egypt in this video made at one of Coptic Orphans’ recent 25th Anniversary Galas. Lastly, you can check out  the “Top 5 Myths Why You Can’t Take Part in Serve to Learn Debunked.” 

PS  Please go to the top of this post and hit the “Like” button, then share the post, tweet it, email it to everyone you know, print it out and pass it out to five of your friends, and finally, stand in the middle of a busy intersection with a megaphone and shout it out!  

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.