This is my first year working as a social studies teacher on the Africa Mercy. One of the things that I love about teaching onboard a hospital ship is the amazing field trips that my students can take. When my 6th grade class was learning about geography and I needed a practical example of the use of latitude and longitude, we left our classroom and made the three-minute walk to the bridge at the front of the ship. The Captain of the ship had agreed to explain how maps and coordinates are important to him in the navigation of the ship. After taking the students into his office and explaining how the Earth is divided into line of latitude and longitude (the students were impressed how the Captain could draw a perfect circle to represent the Earth on his white board), we headed to the bridge to put the information to use. Using the actual ship maps, we found our location and plotted the coordinates. We got to practice using all of the instruments that the deck officers use to navigate the ship. It’s one thing to understand a concept in theory, but this sort of experience helps the information come alive for the students as they see how that information is used in a practical way to get the Africa Mercy where it needs to go to bring hope and healing to the people of Africa. How kind of the Captain to give us 45 minutes of his time to carefully explain these concepts in a way that 6th graders could understand.
Sometimes we take field trips to other parts of the ship, and sometimes the experts come to us. When our first-grade science teacher was doing a unit on electricity, she had the biomedical engineer who fixes and calibrates the hospital equipment come and explain the basic principles of electricity that he uses to make our equipment work. Having these guests come to our classes helps the students get to know the adults on the ship and gives students an opportunity to hear how God is at work in lives of people throughout the ship. In my high school Bible class, I want to encourage my students to have a time of personal devotions each day where they study God’s word and pray. About once a week, I have different people from around the ship drop by and share for a few minutes with my students about their own “quiet time” with the Lord, and what resources have been helpful to them. What an amazing experience these students are having on board the Africa Mercy. Not only are they learning in their classes, but they are daily being exposed to new cultures and people from all over the world who are passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with the people of Africa in very tangible ways.