Mercer University’s mission to produce students majoring in changing the world is directly aligned with the personal ethos of senior biology major Krupa Patel, a mentor for the Village Book Builders.

The Village Book Builders is a nonprofit organization that assists and mentors students in developing countries primarily through educational efforts. The organization has established itself in many countries around the world, including Malawi, Nepal and Kenya.

The organization also helps provide communities in countries with high dropout rates the resources to build libraries complete with books, computers and internet access at local schools, according to the organization’s CEO Tyler Clark.

Mercer’s Village Mentors chapter was established by seniors Natalie Yeager and Parneeta Mohapatra in September 2020. The organization’s mission piqued Patel’s interest, which resulted in her obtaining her first position on the executive board as treasurer. Currently, she is the president of the chapter.

While the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected organizations across the world, it did not cease any operations of the Mercer chapter of the Village Book Builders.

“There weren’t many differences in how we did operations since we already communicated to the students virtually,” Patel said. “We tutored students in Ghana through Google Meet.”

One change the organization made was in advertising to Mercer students during the pandemic.

“I would say the most difficult part was getting the word out about our organization,” Patel said. “If we were in person to advertise, it could have been much easier to pass out flyers in the Connell Student Center lobby.”

Patel is proud of the work she and other Mercerians have done with the organization, as well as the work of their international students, due to the time and dedication it takes on both sides of the computer screen.

“It is a large commitment because the students typically walk to these libraries where they have computer and internet access,” Patel said. “Tutors also have to commit several hours out of the week to pour into these students. It makes me really proud to be a part of such a great community around the globe.”

Patel’s longstanding passion for education and providing students the opportunity to learn stems from her participation in the America Reads, America Counts organization since her freshman year.

“Tutoring elementary school students around Bibb County allowed me to see that students in developing countries don’t always have resources,” Patel said. “It’s different tutoring a student in your area than tutoring someone across the globe because you encounter different obstacles, but I’m up for the challenge.”

Patel is grateful that she can provide the chance for students who may not have the same opportunities as her to take advantage of vital educational resources needed to advance in the world.

“I’ve gotten a chance to attend Mercer to further my education, and I have so many resources, so why not give back,” Patel said.


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