23 Feb Volunteer Profile: Meet a UK teacher onboard the Africa Mercy
Q: What originally led you to become a volunteer with Mercy Ships?
Kathryn: I attended Spring Harvest in Harrogate in the Easter of 2018 and this is where I first heard about Mercy Ships. I did not think that I could volunteer as I am not medically trained, but then I discovered that they have a school onboard and needed teachers! That was when I felt God lead me to apply to Mercy Ships.
Q: What is your day to day is like on the Africa Mercy?
Kathryn: Day to day life here as a teacher is a little different to back at home. I live and work in the same place which makes my commute from my cabin to breakfast and then to my classroom no longer than about 3 minutes, so no traffic to worry about! Life then, in school is very similar to schools at home – we have a school day that includes Maths, English, Science, History, Geography, Life Skills as well as specials including Art, French, PE, Computers and Music.
Q: Besides the obvious, what makes this a unique experience for educators?
Kathryn: It is great to teach alongside teachers from all over the world, you can really learn a lot and develop professionally seeing how others teach and the philosophy of education that other people have. I feel that this time has really impacted the way that I teach, developing new ideas from people I would never have met and from countries I may never have visited. Mercy Ships Academy provides a unique experience not just for the children but also for the teachers!
Q: Educators around the world are facing new challenges with COVID-19, do you have any advice for adapting to an unconventional learning environment?
Kathryn: COVID-19 has definitely changed teaching all around the world in the past few months. I feel so blessed and privileged to have been able to finish out the previous school year still in person and in the classroom with the children, as so many other schools did not have this opportunity. I would say that when teaching in any environment, as long as you are providing the best possible education you can with the resources that you have, then no one can ask for more.
Q: Why is the Academy important to the mission of Mercy Ships?
Kathryn: As a teacher you are serving the families that come to serve on board, most of whom are vital to the work that happens in the hospital and on the ship. Our service allows others to bring hope and healing to the patients! The ship is made up of a variety of jobs many of which are not medical, however, each role is vital to the mission of Mercy Ships to succeed. Each job on the ship is important and without them we would not be able to bring the hope and healing that we do.
Q: What did you most enjoy about your experience while volunteering?
Kathryn: I really enjoyed being able to teach children from all around the world, learning from them about different cultures and traditions that the children have! When I return to the UK I will definitely incorporate what I have learnt about these cultures into some of my lessons.
Q: What has served as your biggest takeaway from volunteering onboard?
Kathryn: I have taken away a sense of community, working together to serve a greater purpose, bringing hope and healing. Also loving and serving others in all that you do, however big or small!
Q: How do you think volunteering changes someone working in your specific field of work?
Kathryn: Loving and serving others in all that you do, however big or small is a wonderful way to show God’s love to those around you.
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for other teachers who may be considering serving on the Africa Mercy?
Kathryn: The Mercy Ships Academy is a wonderful place to be a teacher. It has allowed me to learn and grow as a professional from teachers from all over the world! It is also a unique place to use the gifts that God has given you to serve the people of Africa. We may not be directly helping the patients in the wards but by using our gifts as teachers we allow families to come and serve as doctors, surgeons, chaplains, biomedical technicians and much more. I would say if you are considering serving – do it! Put in the application, step out in faith, listen to the call God has placed upon your life! It is the best decision that I ever made, maybe a little scary at first but ultimately it has been life-changing, fulfilling and a real blessing!
Are you a teacher inspired to use your skills volunteering on the Africa Mercy? Why not get in touch to find out more at www.mercyships.org/beahero