For families and children around the world, the end of summer signals that it’s time to return to school. At Mercy Ships, we love to learn — and we love to teach. In fact, education is a part of our approach in many ways. From mentoring programs in the operating rooms to classrooms in the Academy onboard, education can be found across all corners of our ships — and beyond.
On land, we run training programs throughout a typical field service designed to equip local healthcare professionals with the skills to strengthen their own healthcare systems and beyond. As many children prepare to head back to school, here’s a snapshot some of the ways learning takes place onboard a Mercy Ship.
An Inside Look at the Academy Onboard Our Hospital Ships
Take a peek into one of the most unique schools in the world. Combining a hospital and a ship is already a radically unusual combination. Add a school to the mix, and you’ve truly got a one-of-a-kind learning environment.
Did you know that we currently have two schools — one onboard each of our ships? The Global Mercy Academy and Africa Mercy Academy will share many similarities, but will each function as their own school, with a principal and a roster of volunteer teachers leading each grade.
The Mercy Ships Academy began in 1979 as a way to provide a quality Christian education to the children of the volunteers onboard the ship. As parents work to provide hope and healing to our patients onboard, their children pursue their education in a structured classroom environment.
“Day one of Mercy Ships there was an Academy, because day one, there were families,” Nikki Aldum Academy Director said. “The kids onboard have a purpose in this season with Mercy Ships, and while that purpose looks a little bit different than their parents’ purpose, it’s still important.”
As a fully accredited K-12 school, the Academy provides an exceptional and international education. But it also provides so much more. Where else in the world might you find students playing football on a ship dock during P.E. class, befriending patients in the hospital wards during break times, or taking occasional fun field trips where you learn about other cultures?
Of course, running a school onboard wouldn’t be possible without our teachers. Each teacher volunteers for at least a full school year, and many often stay longer.
“Teaching in the Academy is a truly unique experience. I love having a classroom of students from different continents,” said Beth Kirchner, volunteer kindergarten and Grade 1 teacher. “Having only four students [this year] helps me to really focus on the gifts and needs of each of my kids, and having students from all over the world allows us to learn so much from each other and grow in incredible ways together.”
Teaching, Training, and Equipping the Next Generation
We believe that a vital part of bringing hope and healing is strengthening healthcare systems in a sustainable way. This is why our Medical Capacity Building programs exist — to equip and collaborate with local medical professionals, hospitals, and Ministries of Health in the nations we serve. Since 1978, we’ve trained more than 6,600 local professionals with the skills and resources to train many others in return. We’ve also trained more than 49,000 professionals in their areas of expertise, from nursing to biomedical engineering.
In 2021, we’re training more than ever. We’ve adapted to a unique season during the pandemic by ramping up our training programs and projects and offering even more vital healthcare education opportunities. In fact, we are on track to provide even more participant training hours than we typically do during a normal field service, with 150,000 training hours scheduled through the end of the year.
Learn all about our Medical Capacity Building approach – and how you can get involved – today!