A group of 17 students and 3 staff from Middle East University (MEU) in Lebanon took part in an international service trip over spring break to Irbid, Jordan from March 30 to April 8, 2018. The students represented four different religions and six different countries, and included majors in Graphic Design, Education, Theology, Biology/Pre-Med, English and Business.
The team delivered Health Expos for children and adults at Irbid Adventist School as well as a government school (Mariyam bint Omran Mixed Basic School) and the Irbid City Center mall. Technical guidance for the adult health expos was provided by Health Ministries department of the Middle East and North Africa Union.
The MEU team was also joined by a group of students from Vita et Salus, an institution in Portugal dedicated to preventive medicine. The Life Course team, led by their instructor Olga Arndt, coordinated the Children’s Health Expo at both schools with the support of MEU students and provided support for the adult health expos.
With the guidance of Dale Sherman, MEU staff member, all students enjoyed also participating in collaborative mural painting at both schools. One objective of this activity was to leave a beautiful reminder of the eight principles of health; but more importantly, painting together created an opportunity to engage local children and build relationships.
Providentially, the new pastor of Irbid church and his wife arrived a week before the MEU service team. As relationships were formed and future possibilities discussed, the new pastor and his wife were right there alongside the visiting team, discovering new doors to follow up in the months to come.
At the public school in particular, the teachers and administrators were hungry for more.
“Every family represented at our school needs to receive this important information! Please keep working with us and sharing resources!” urged Muna Smadi, the vice principal.
Muhammad Bani Amer, the local director of education in the Bani Ebeed area visited the adult health expo and affirmed the team, “I am inspired by you! Not everyone can be a volunteer. Thank you for giving of yourselves in this way!”
This is the second international service trip for MEU students as in June 2017, a group of five collaborated with Loma Linda University and Adventist Health International in medical outreach in northern Nigeria. Irbid was the pioneer service trip for MEU students to reach out within their own region.
Sherman explains, “This trip was a priority for MEU this year because of the unique opportunity it presents to disciple our own local young people to be a light in their region. Many of them have seen short term international service groups come to their region from other parts of the world, but now they themselves are going out to serve!”
Patrick Quigley, Biology/pre-medicine major from the USA, was struck by how easy it was to interact with others of different religious backgrounds.
“We imagine that we have nothing in common with people of a different faith, and we create our own walls. But actually, we have no excuse for not reaching out across faiths. We really have a way to connect where we have common ground. All of us long for good health” says Quigley.
Two Lebanese premed majors discovered new talents.
“I discovered I’m great with kids!” exclaims Rabih al Khatib.
Consuela Khoueiry also said, “I had so much fun teaching the kids the song about making healthy choices every day that I started thinking I should specialize in pediatrics!”
Other students mentioned that they learned the importance of teamwork, flexibility, listening to others’ burdens, patience, acting on the health message in their own lives, seeking God together in group worships and stepping forward to serve without excuses.
“Most importantly, I realized that everything we can physically try to do for our health is nothing without trust in God. Ultimately health is a gift from Him,” says Hanan Bushra, Education major from Egypt.
MEU students are now ready to reach out and spread the health message throughout the region.
“People need health expos in Egypt!” exclaims Girgis Gadelkarim, Management major from Egypt, “We need to take this initiative all over the country, especially upper Egypt.”