Mercer study abroad program celebrates 10th anniversary

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT ) – Mercer University is getting ready to send more than 200 facult and students to study abroad.

It’s a year of milestones for Mercer On Mission. The study abroad program is celebrating its 10th anniversary and students going to Vietnam are expected to fit their 5,000 patient with a prosthetic leg designed by a Mercer professor.

Faculty and students will be visiting multiple countries in South America, Asia and Africa to give back and put their classroom lessons into real world practice.

“Part of my interest is to make sure that every university unit whether it’s music, or theology, or law, or the College of Liberal Arts can participate in the program,” explained Dr. Craig McMahan, the Director of Mercer On Mission.

The program has come a long way since Dr. McMahan started it 10 years ago.

“We started with 38 students on three programs. We went to Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil and in those programs we delivered mosquito nets. We worked with children at risk in Rio. We worked with an orphanage in Guatemala,” recalled Dr. McMahan.

Now Mercer On Mission has more than 200 participants and 11 locations.

“We’ll put prosthetic legs on amputees. We’ll work with gold miners who are exposed to high levels of mercury in their mining projects. We’ll work in Madagascar with water pumps that are loaded with lead just like in Flint, Michigan,” explained Dr. McMahan.

Sophomore Jaz Buckley can’t wait to get to South Africa this summer.

“We’re going to be working with 6th and 7th graders on their speech and communication skills as well as their leadership skills which is right in my wheelhouse. We’re actually going to be teaching them debate and I’m a debater so this is perfect for me,” said Buckley.

Buckley added she’s always been interested in the country’s history.

“We’re doing black, [white] and a black and [white] mixed school so we’ll be seeing first hand how they interact with each other. We have been studying the affects of apartheid as well as the history of it,” explained Buckley.

It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a different culture while helping others and one reason why Mercer University says every student majors in changing the world.

Mercer University pays for every students’ traveling and living expenses. Each participant must be vaccinated and go through a two week training period before they head to their destinations. Training starts Monday.