Not sure what Serve to Learn could hold for you? Here’s the deal: Submit your application. Book your flight. Land in Egypt. Play with the world’s funniest, smartest kids. Teach them English. Make life long friendships. Experience God’s love. Come home feeling more purpose for your life. Serve to Learn: Learn to Serve.
For three weeks this summer, 22 young people took a step towards a better tomorrow for themselves, Egypt, and the world. Here are the thoughts of one of them, Mina Ebied. He was born in Egypt and moved to Canada with his family when he was nine years old. He now works and studies in Alberta and is currently applying to optometry school.
Here’s what Mina had to say about his summer doing Serve to Learn:
After coming home from Egypt, did you see things in a different light than before you left?
Coming home from Egypt helped me put things in perspective. I always knew that there is more than meets the eye in life, and that value isn’t always in material objects. However, spending the summer with people in Egypt, I experienced hospitality like I never have before. I experienced generosity and love like I never have before. We were perfect strangers, and yet they treated us like the closest family. People there may not have much in material objects or money, but they have the love of Christ and it overflows.
Do you feel like you know the Coptic community better now after taking part in Serve to Learn?
We have our Coptic community here, and we think that we are miles away and so separated. However, we all stand on a common ground, and the community can be universal. After all, the church is one here and in Egypt.
When you tell your friends about your summer, what stories do you tell most?
I mostly speak of the children and what a pleasure it was to spend time with them. They were all so wonderful and quite eager to learn or even just play around together. The stories that stand out the most, though, are the ones from our home visits in the evenings. It was a truly enriching experience.
Can you name one thing you would add to Serve to Learn for next year?
I absolutely enjoyed Serve to Learn, and I would go again and tell everyone I know to go as well. However, the only thing I would add is more details in the information package as to what to bring along. I didn’t quite know the need until I got there, and I would just love to help them out to the best of my abilities.
What is the most powerful thing you would say to someone to convince them to sign up for Serve to Learn 2015?
We live in Canada, and we are so busy being “busy” with school, work, and the many responsibilities of the daily life here. We often forget how fortunate we are to have everything we have; we forget to appreciate what we have been blessed with. Going to Egypt opened my eyes to how blessed we truly are. Not only to that, but also to how grateful we should be for everything we have. People there have much, much less than we do, and their joy s overwhelming. Their faith is so strong and their life is truly inspiring. The Bible is more than words, and going to Egypt helped me see how your faith can truly define and support every aspect of your life.
You can apply now for the July 3-25 Serve to Learn trip! If you still have questions, you can learn more by reading the Serve to Learn FAQ, or by writing to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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’ve been interviewing our Serve to Learn volunteers so that everyone can hear about the program from those who’ve done it. Today, I’m proud to share the reflections of Gaby Salib, who took part in Serve to Learn 2014.
For those of you who don’t know, Serve to Learn is a challenging, life-changing, three-week service trip to Egypt. (By the way, you can find your application for the July 3-25 2015 Serve to Learn trip here!) Young people from all over the world answer their calling to make a difference in the world by signing up to serve. Once in Egypt, volunteers are immersed in the life of the community as they teach basic English to the children. Arabic and teaching skills are a great asset for volunteers, but what’s more important is to be ready for some hard work, lots of love, and to be forever changed!
Gaby Salib, who’s interviewed in today’s post, took part in the 2014 trip to Egypt. She lives in Baltimore, MD and is now studying computer engineering at the University of Maryland. Gaby has a strong passion for teaching languages globally — first English, next computer science!
Here’s what Gaby had to say about Serve to Learn 2014!
What was your favorite thing about the people and the kids you lived with while you were in Egypt? Have you brought a little bit of that back home?
The group that I lived with in Egypt made a very lasting impact on me. My favorite part of having my living mates was that though we had each come from fairly different walks of life, we all decided to do Serve to Learn to connect back to Egypt to see what we could do to give back. I’ve definitely taken the spirit and passion of the group back with me. We’ve kept in touch in order to continue encouraging each other spiritually and to remind each other that we need to continue to care for Egypt. As I’ve been back, my favorite topic of discussion is Egypt’s reformation and passion for renewal!
What were some things you found surprising about Copts or Egypt while you were doing Serve to Learn?
The trap that many Christians are destined to fall into is what I found to be surprising about Copts during my time doing Serve to Learn. But at the same time, I found their outlook to be surprising as well. They never spoke as if they were destined to poverty and lower education, but they spoke about what God had blessed them with and granted to them.
The mothers of our Not Alone program children were the ones who threw me off the most. There was one mother we visited who only had her 16-year-old daughter to rely on. But to bring in some money, she sewed and fixed clothes for neighbors or anyone who needed a good stitching. I saw such extraordinary strength in her confidence to use the gifts God has given her. Regardless of how small anyone else may see her skill to be, she has recognized God’s hand in her life and has done her best with what she’s been given. Now, how many people can say they’ve done the same? Bam!
What surprised me about Egypt was the reality of the mistreatment of women as a whole. This realization was so prominent and outrageous to me that I found more of myself and my value as a woman while being looked down upon by the Islamic culture. Since I’m a computer engineering major, I have had a glimpse of the male-dominated field. It felt good to be able to relate and to encourage the girls who were told they couldn’t go into certain professions, or wouldn’t be as good at engineering as a man would, for example. I pray to finish my degree and show them that women are just as intelligent and creative as men would be in such a profession.
When you tell your friends about your summer, what stories do you tell most? Why?
I definitely talk about my classroom experiences most often. It was such an interesting experience to see myself become the teachers I thought were so annoying! It was also extremely humbling to have a classroom of 30 children accept my broken Arabic, without chuckles or corrections! They were all so sweet and loving. Sometimes I would even ask them to teach me different tenses of verbs that I couldn’t quite pronounce! It was such a beautiful exchange of knowledge and creativity in our classrooms. We made them notebooks in which they could write and draw to express their creativity. And seeing the excitement and pride they felt for their work was the greatest gift I could have ever received. Writing this makes me realize how much love was jam-packed into those tiny classrooms.
What are some Serve to Learn things you would: Do? Do more of?
Do: I would continue to plan monastery visits and spiritual trips on the weekends; they really brought spiritual clarity to the trip.
Do more of: Informational and spiritual preparation by video sessions. Although we may be too busy to read all of On Wealth and Poverty before coming to Egypt, we should have some sort of interactive spiritual preparation on expectations of conduct and such.
If one of your friends was on the fence about going to Serve to Learn, what would you tell them to convince them to come?
I would ask them how well they know the hardship of their brothers and sisters in Egypt. If they respond saying they aren’t completely heartbroken about their conditions, then I would tell them they need to Serve To Learn. God tells us in Isaiah 58:6-9,
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”
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 5 to five of your friends, and finally, go (cautiously) stand in the middle of a busy intersection with a megaphone and shout it out!