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Friday, Oct 22, 2021

Mercer grows international presence by expanding service programs abroad

Photo by Elizabeth Daniels.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels.

Mercer University students and graduates have more opportunities to work and volunteer abroad than ever before as the school focuses on growing its international presence. Some previously existing programs have expanded to accommodate more students, while others are opening applications for the first time this fall.

These new offerings come as the school works to become “a global university,” as explained in Imperative 3 of Mercer’s ten-year strategic plan.

Part of the plan includes “furthering internationaliz(ing) our campuses” by upping international student population to at least 7 percent and expanding service programs abroad over the next decade.

“Over the past year, eight students have received appointments to the Peace Corps, which has now selected the University as a Peace Corps Prep center. A number of other students spend a year abroad following graduation in programs such as Service First, which places our graduates into international teaching opportunities,” according to the strategic plan.

Service First is a nine-month volunteer teaching program through Mercer’s Institute of Life Purpose. A new placement site in the Dominican Republic opened to applicants this year, bringing the total number of international partners to 10.

“The Dominican Republic team will be teaching English as a Second Language in elementary schools, middle-schools and high schools,” Scott Walker, Mercer professor and Service First director, said in an email to students Oct. 26.

The first 2018 recruitment event, a meeting and keynote speech from the director of Teach Thailand, took place Oct. 29.

Interested students may email

A completely new opportunity to Mercer’s campus, the Peace Corps Prep Program, kicked off Oct. 18 with a similar launch event in the President’s Dining Room.

Students enrolled in the program are not required to go abroad as part of it but may have an upper hand when they apply for placement as a Peace Corps volunteer, according to the program description on Mercer’s website.

Volunteers spend two years serving international communities by helping with a variety of global challenges from health and economics to youth development and English-language education.

Students may contact program director Ashley Buchanan in the Office of International Programs at

Other opportunities to teach English as a second language are now open as well.

Director of Scholarships and Fellowships David Davis sent an email to students Oct. 15 about applications to teach English in China through the China Educational Association of International Exchange (CEAIE) and the Institute of International Education (IIE).

The second round of applications will be accepted until Nov. 7.

“Teach in China is looking for recent graduates with an interest in teaching, education and/or China,” the email said.

The program begins in either February or August and lasts for 12 months. Participants will teach at a school in China, which can range from an elementary to university level. Benefits of the program include roundtrip airfare, local transportation, a monthly salary comparable to Chinese teachers’ salaries, insurance and housing.

Preferred applicants will have traveled overseas in the past, hold degrees in either English or education and have either significant teaching experience or English as a Second Language teaching certification.

Interested applicants can email

Applications are also open for Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) until midnight Nov. 17.

Similarly to the CEAIE program, JET participants will work full-time in a Japanese school for at least one year. Salaries are determined by the number of years of participation in the program, according to the JET website. Transportation, appropriate work visas, insurance and more are provided.

Emily Hatchett is a recent Mercer graduate currently enrolled in the JET program.

“If you’ve ever had an interest in Japan and/or teaching abroad, I’d highly recommend applying,” she said. “These last few months have been full of exciting new experiences and learning opportunities.”



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