‘His Light Is In These Children’s Smiles’ — Jessica Ayob Recalls Serve to Learn

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Jessica Ayob and some of the Serve to Learn students she taught.

Dear Friends,

Sometimes people ask me, “I’m very busy with work but I’d love to serve in Egypt, can I just do one week of Serve to Learn?” I always disappoint these people  and answer no. But let me explain, this isn’t just bureaucratic, it’s about the relational nature of Serve to Learn. Yes, Serve to Learn brings volunteers from all over the world to Egypt for three weeks to teach basic English, and that has real value for children who’ve never been taught by a native speaker. However, Serve to Learn is also about the relationships among people who live together, have tea together,  laugh together, and are there for each other. In Serve to Learn, you’re there to spend enough time with the kids in Egypt that they keep a piece of your heart. Read this interview with Serve to Learn volunteer Jessica Ayob and you’ll understand.  

So — are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Applications for the June 18-July 9 trip are available online here and are due by April 1 (March 15 to take part in the brand new medical initiativeapply here). Apply now, because slots are limited!

— Nermien 

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

The most torturous part of the trip was saying goodbye to my kids. When they said “please don’t forget me” it tore my heart into pieces.

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

I now have a deeper understanding not only of Egypt, but the people of Egypt. Never will you meet people who are so welcoming and loving to the “aghaneb.” It makes you want to be like them and show them off as the most amazing people you’ve ever met. No matter the little money they have or how small their house is, they will be the most giving people.

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

On the last day we played real soccer in the dirt, with rocks and no shoes on, and it was GREAT! They have a real passion for soccer and they are soooooo amazingly talented!

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

GO. APPLY. RIGHT. NOW.  I’m so glad God brought me for whatever his plan may be for me. These kids will make you cry, will give you hope, will drive you insane, and ultimately will love you like no one has ever loved you before on Earth. His light is in these children’s smiles and you could feel it every second you are with them.

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Interested in learning more about Serve to Learn? Check out our page and video, which gives a snapshot of the program! 

If this blog makes you want to read other Serve to Learn stories, here are those of Marianne SawiresJessica HannaJessica AyobPheobe, and Ryan. If that’s not enough, you can read Serve to Learn  interviews with:

 ToniJohnGabyMinaAndyVeronikaDavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and Mirelle.

You may also enjoy these video interviews with NadinePeter and Mary.  Any questions you’d like to ask a real human being? Call or email Mira Fouad, who runs Serve to Learn, at 703-641-8910 or at mfouad@copticorphans.org

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.