Thursday, August 30, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Megan Zeugner '15 Is On A Mission

Sometimes you find your calling at a young age.

“Combining my love for teaching with my love to travel and my heart for mission is what brought me to my current position as a volunteer missionary teacher in Cairo, Egypt,” says Megan Zeugner ’15, Elementary Education.

It is true what they say: you never know where life will take you. For Megan, her journey began in Joliet and led her to Cairo. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and she wanted to travel, and throughout college went on many mission trips.

“I love my work inside the classroom, but the best moments are sometimes those spent outside the classroom where students are more themselves and can feel freer to share more personal aspects of their own journey of growing up. I love being able to impact the lives of the students who attend St. Clare's College.”

During her time at St. Clare’s College in Cairo, Megan has had great success teaching students English and many other skills. Megan is motivated by her ability to impact the education system in Egypt and motivate and teach young women in the Middle East that they “have a voice and can influence change”.

One particular moment will stick with her forever. A little girl who was not able to come to school because the buses were not running in her area sent Megan a voice message about the upcoming prince/princess themed day, speaking in near-perfect English. “Hello, Ms. Megan, I love you because I missed you and I dreamed of you, but I will come for the princess day and I will be so happy to come.”

The message melted Megan’s heart. “It was a special moment of pride for me to more fully understand how my teaching at the school was truly having an impact on the lives of my students.”

Megan’s advice to others is an echo from St. Pope John Paul II: “Do not be afraid”, she says. “Had I been afraid or listened to the fears of others, I would not be teaching in the Middle East, I would not have had the experiences and adventures I have had in my life, and I would not be the young woman I am today.” Her advice to fellow educators is reminiscent of St. John Bosco: “Education is a matter of the heart. Don’t forget this, as it makes all the difference!”

Working in the Middle East comes with its challenges. For Megan, the most difficult aspect of her job is the language and cultural barriers with the other teachers she works with. She is still working on her Arabic and teaching other educators how to adapt to the Salesian style of education. (The Salesian Sisters are who run the school.) However, her reliance on Christ, as well as the Sisters she works with and the students and families she is serving, get her through the toughest of days. At the end of the day Megan knows that “I am truly making a difference in the life of another person”.
During her time at Lewis, Megan got involved in many groups on campus. She was a member and board member of the Gospel choir and liturgical dance team as well as member and board member of Students for Life. She was also involved in campus ministry, teachers of tomorrow and participated in events such as student chef’s cook-off, social justice pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and other fundraisers.

Megan obtained her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Education with concentrations in Mathematics, Language Arts, and Social Sciences. Every class of Megan’s prepared her to be the educator she is today. She feels she is “able to use that preparation to help the school raise their level of education for the students and help the other teachers become better more successful teachers so they can work together to build up more successful well-educated young women who can impact their society in the future”.  All professors in the College of Education, as well as the former dean, Dr. Pamela Jessee, also impacted her greatly and prepared her for the road ahead of her. According to Megan “They really formed me into the best teacher they could, and I’m not sure I would be where I am today, without God and them.”

If you would like more information on the work Megan is doing and would like to get involved and volunteer (even if you aren’t an educator), you can contact Megan at meganzeg@comcast.net or meganzeugner@lewisu.edu. Volunteers are welcome to join her Cairo, Egypt!