While most of his friends were heading off to university classes for the first time last week, Michael Vickruck was instead boarding a plane and heading out on a year-long trip that he anticipates will be a life-changing experience.
Michael, 18, son of Vernon and Sharon Vickruck, took off last Tuesday for South Africa, where he will spend the next year doing volunteer missionary work in a school and church in Port Elizabeth.
Michael will serve as an educational assistant as part of an outreach program developed by Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Ministries.
Having recently graduated from the Sackville Christian Academy, which follows the ACE curriculum, Michael said he learned about the educational assistant program through a family friend and was immediately enthused about the potential benefits such a trip would bring.
“He thought it would be good for me to go and do this type of program,” said Michael.
The educational assistant program is an opportunity for mature high school graduates and experienced adults to help out in Learning Centres throughout the world, to be involved in reaching children of all ages and of all nationalities by spreading the word of God.
Michael said he expects to take on a variety of duties at the school and the church, including assisting with teaching and office work, outreach programs, coaching sports and leading music, “and anything else they want me to do.”
He has deferred his post-secondary education for the year but said he has been assured his acceptance to Crandall University will still be valid when he returns next fall. Michael said he didn’t want to pass up this trip because he sees it as a valuable experience to take into his planned bachelor of education and religious studies degrees.
He also expects the visit to the African nation will provide a unique opportunity to learn about a different culture.