Tag Archives: Serve to Learn

‘You Have the Chance to Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself’ — Veronika Tadross Reflects on Serve to Learn

Veronika T
Nikki Tadross and a student demonstrate the Serve to Learn smile.

Tomorrow (Nov. 15) is the last day to submit your application for the Jan. 16-Feb. 7 Serve to Learn trip!

If you don’t already know, Serve to Learn is a three-week trip to Egypt where you have the opportunity to really find yourself in the service of others. Your days there are filled with teaching English through fun activities, playing with the world’s greatest kids, and learning what it really means to “live in the service of others.” Arabic and teaching skills are helpful but not the most important things. Just come with an open heart and an open mind, and I promise you, you will be transformed.

Serve to Learn has been around for over a decade, and this summer, nearly 20 volunteers took part. Today, I wanted to share the thoughts of one of those volunteers, Veronika “Nikki” Tadross from Virginia.

These days, Nikki is a student at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. She’s studying English education with the aim of becoming an English as a Second Language teacher.

If you want to know more about how Serve to Learn changes lives, I invite you to check out these interviews with DavidBen, Kirollos, MariamAlex, and Mirelle.

Here’s what Nikki had to say about Serve to Learn:

What was your favorite thing about the people and the kids you lived with while you were in Egypt? 

My favorite thing about the people and the kids was their ability to slow down, listen, and spend time with each other.

Have you brought a little bit of that back home?

I try my best to. Listening and getting to know people on a deeper level is highly underrated.

For many of us, going back to Egypt helps us connect to our roots; do you feel that you better understand where you come from after Serve To Learn?

Absolutely! There’s something really cool about seeing where my family came from.

What is a story that you tell all your friends when you talk about your summer with Serve to Learn? 

One of my favorite stories is about Marina. After doing Serve to Learn for three years, and having her in my class from the very beginning, I saw a difference between her and her siblings in her attitude towards higher education. Her older sister dropped out and decided that she just wanted to get married, while Marina, who is a few years younger than her, decided that this life was not what she wanted. When I asked her why, she said: “You told me two years ago I’m really bright, and that I should go to college… I took that very seriously.” This was cool, because I didn’t fully understand the impact of my words until this moment.

What do you feel are the three most important reasons someone should come on a Serve to Learn trip?

1. You have the chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
2. These kids are valuable, and worth your investment of time.
3. You’ll learn more about life, and the value of our relationship with Christ, through observing these kids.

What are some things you wish you had done differently, done more of, or not done at all this summer during the trip?

Wish I could have spent more one-on-one time with some of my students.

The moment has arrived to apply for Serve to Learn; the November 15 deadline is here! Don’t forget that applications for the July 3-25 session are also available! 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!

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

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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!  

‘I Would Tell Them This Story…’ — David Ibrahim Shares Serve to Learn Memories

David
David Ibrahim representing Penn State for the Abnoub Serve to Learn site.

Quick reminder: The last day to apply for the Jan. 16-Feb. 7 Serve to Learn is November 15! Not only that, there’s a  July 3-July 25 session.

I’ve been publishing this series of Serve to Learn interviews so that you can hear about the program straight from the people who’ve done it. You’ve already had a chance to read the interviews with Mirelle,  Ben, Kirollos, Mariam, and Alex. Today, I’d like to present the thoughts of 2014 volunteer David Ibrahim.

David lives in Pittsburgh, where he’s a sophomore in high school. He hopes to study either engineering or medicine one day, or possibly both. Here are the experiences he’s shared from Serve to Learn 2014:

What was the most beautiful trait that the people you served with exhibit? Do you think you can or want to imitate that?

I loved the people that I served with. They were great. What I loved about them was their concern for the kids we served. They connected with the kids out of the classroom, and they didn’t just try to teach them English, but to be their friends. What I also liked was the fact that they never took anything too seriously, they weren’t too sensitive, and they were always joking around with each other. I think we definitely had more fun than the El Barsha group :D

Did anything you saw in Egypt help you better understand yourself, your family, your Church?

Yes. I can’t say that I know why God allows poverty, war, suffering, etc., but I do have to say that after I visited Abnoub I kind of understand it. I think He allows this stuff, because they are stronger than we are and they can deal with it. It was like what On Wealth and Poverty from St. John Chrysostom said. We had to read this book prior to our trip. If a poor man enjoys his life just as much, if not more, than a rich man, then who is really richer? The people that I served know the secret to being content in all things, good or bad. Meanwhile, sometimes we have problems just being content in the good things in our life.

I also saw how the tasonys there knew each kid by name — and there were about 200 kids! They knew how to discipline them, listen to them, and talk to them; I thought that was pretty cool.

Was there a child that especially touched you with their story, love, humor? Can you tell me about them?

There was one girl whose name was Senayaa. She worked in a factory, she worked with her mom, she was studying to be an educator, and she helped the kids in her area learn English. Her dad had just passed away six months before we met her. She was just so happy with everything, and said her work passed by fast because she enjoyed it. We always say that we have busy lives in the modern world, and we talk about how stressed we are and how difficult everything is, but we have to look past that sometimes.

In terms of humor, there was this one kid named Yessa and he was 11 years old. He was hilarious. The teachers in the classroom behind us would do this one thing, where if the kids were loud they would smack the walls to get their attention, so Yessa would always sit in the back, and when he heard them, he would hit the wall in return! He also brought this water gun in one day and he started squirting the whole class with it out of nowhere! There was this other time where he brought in fireworks that he bought from the streets, but I had to take them from him so he wouldn’t let them off at church.

One last thing :) I thought it was really cool seeing the priests just walking on the streets and not expecting any special treatment or anything. I think they were visiting their congregations’ houses, and this was in some shady areas.

Name one thing you would add or remove from Serve To Learn for next year.

I would add more pictures of the site where the servants are going to be working at, so they know what they’re getting into. I think the gifts given during house visits should be removed. I think they should be distributed by the church, because the church knows what they need. We don’t. I enjoyed the trips to the monasteries, and the travelling we had on the weekends. I think that the groups should meet more often, but I realize that might be difficult in terms of logistics.

If someone were on the fence about going to Serve to Learn, what would you tell them?

I would tell them this story. When we visited Baba Tawadros, he helped me a lot with understanding the kids. He asked us if we knew the word JOY. J is for Jesus. This means first we have to pray, confess, repent, take communion, live a life with Christ. O is for Others. This means we have to put others before ourselves and be considerate of them. Y is for You. This is where you take care of yourself, and what you need. And so, if they went with Serve to Learn I would tell them this is what they would see. Especially from the moms. After everything they said, they would always say thank God.

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 5 of your friends, and finally, stand in the middle of a busy intersection with a megaphone and shout it out!