Around 20 Mercer seniors are considering beginning their life after college by spending nine months in a land nicknamed the “The Country of Smiles”.
With the Teach Thailand Corps, part of American-Thai Foundation, they will teach conversational English to children grades k-12 in Thailand.
English skills are imperative for world business and higher education and serve as invaluable resources for students in Thailand on a global sphere.
“One of the biggest needs of the world today is to teach English,” stated director of the Institute of Life Purpose Scott Walker.
“As the world is becoming one culture, English is becoming the operational language.”
Walker directs the Institute of Life Purpose, a program of Mercer University devoted to helping students discover goals for life after college.
Service First is a program put forth by the Institute for Life Purpose that aims to give students opportunities for the year after college and before graduate school or a career.
It is Service First’s aim to connect Mercer students to International Programs for service.
Service First partners with Teach Thailand to send students from Mercer and 12 other colleges to go to Thailand. Sixty Mercer students have participated in Service First over the past four years, with 22 going to Thailand.
According to Walker, Service First has three functions.
First, it strives to get students involved in helping Thai students learn a language that is important for their future.
Second, it gives students an opportunity to take a year off before grad school, which is something that graduate schools look for when viewing applications.
Finally, working with Service First is a chance for students to really consider and shape what they want to do with their lives after college.
Teach Thailand Corps was established in conjunction with the Yonok Foundation.
Dr. Nirund Jivasantikarn started Yonok Foundation after attending Baylor University and gaining confidence in the importance of the English language.
Students applying for the program interview with Jivasantikarn via skype before they can be accepted into the program.
For the alumni who have participated in the program, it has been a life-altering experience. They get to spend nine months in another country and have the opportunity for very cheap travel while they are there.
Plus, they get to travel to a foreign country and not incur debt, as the Teach Thailand Trip is funded so that students receive housing and a stipend while they teach.
Mercer has had many alumni participate in Service First or Teach Thailand Corps.
Ryan Schomburg, after participant in Service First, decided to go to Yonsei University in South Korea to receive his master’s in international business. He was inspired by his travel to continue to see the world.
Senior Brittani Howell received her acceptance to the program about two weeks ago.
“I applied for the Teach Thailand Corps because I wanted a gap year before I hit the real world or reconsidered grad school,” said Howell. “I wanted some time to think and to take things slowly, but I also wanted to make sure that I used that time to do something good for other people.”
There will be one more open session for Juniors and Seniors interested in Service First. Please contact Scott Walker at [email protected] if you are considering Service First.