ASU Online student and airman takes on Macedonia

By

Cormac Doebbeling

After traveling to 24 different countries on missions ranging from delivering medical supplies in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic to deploying a THAAD Missile System in South Korea, one might think that would be enough globetrotting for Jon Mayuiers. Yet over the summer, Mayuiers, an ASU Online student pursuing a major in political science, decided to go on another trip.

In addition to taking classes with ASU Online, aerospace technical instructor Mayuiers has served our country in the United States Air Force for the past 10 years.

One day, he received an email from one of his instructors, the School of Politics and Global Studies’ Daniel Pout, inviting him to join the school’s newest study abroad experience: “Cities, Nationalism and Borders in Macedonia.” 

It didn’t take Mayuiers long to decide if he wanted to go on another adventure.

“I thought to myself, ‘Welp, time to sell my motorcycle and go to Macedonia.’”

ASU and the Air Force were not always on Mayuiers’ radar. After graduating from high school, while his classmates were going to college, Mayuiers purchased a yacht built in the 1950s. This bent-out-of-shape boat was in no condition to be out on open water. Nevertheless, Mayuiers got to work fixing what was literally a sinking ship during his spare time while he attended community college classes. Once it was refurbished and ready to sail, he sold the yacht and tripled his initial investment.

“My friends thought I was crazy, but I knew what I was doing,” Mayuiers said. “After completing that challenge, my goal was to push myself into a new life so I opted to enlist in the Air Force.”

Eventually, Mayuiers became curious about the democratic process and the political freedoms that are unique to the country he had been defending. Not wanting to leave the Air Force, Mayuiers found that taking political science classes online with ASU was the perfect way to satisfy both his desire to learn and his sense of duty to his country.

“I can watch a lecture while ironing my uniform at night or use my phone to respond to a discussion board as I have lunch on the plane I’m working on,” Mayuiers said. “Being in the Air Force inherently causes me to have a hectic schedule, but taking classes online allows me to learn about a variety of topics when I do have time.”

While he had to take a permissive leave to go on his study abroad, Mayuiers’ time in Macedonia gave him experiences he will never forget.

Mayuiers and his cohort traveled throughout the Southern Balkans over the course of two weeks, seeing historical landmarks such as Philip II’s tomb, meeting with important policy-makers like North Macedonia’s state secretary of foreign affairs, and visiting the picturesque city of Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was on the cover of National Geographic’s “100 Places That Will Change Your Life.”

Mayuiers and fellow ASU students travelling through the Southern Balkans

Mayuiers and fellow ASU students traveling through the Southern Balkans.

Despite a program jam-packed with information ranging from the horrific effects of the Holocaust in Macedonia to its current icy relationship with Greece, there was one thing Mayuiers just could not get a hold on.

“Simply put, nationalism is a lot more complicated than airplanes.”

For Mayuiers, his studies in Macedonia instilled in him skills that he deems as crucial characteristics of good leadership: the ability to not only listen to, but also understand, individuals with different points of view.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Mayuiers plans on utilizing the lessons he’s learned fixing boats, serving in the Air Force and studying with the School of Politics and Global Studies to pursue a juris doctorate in criminal law after graduating. To Mayuiers, a law degree would pave the way to a new chapter of his life where he can work on implementing reform to America’s criminal justice system.

“People think I’ve set a high hurdle for myself,” Mayuiers said. “I see it as one in a series of hurdles that I have already set and cleared. I am eagerly looking forward to the challenges and the experiences that are waiting for me.”

This program is one of many experiences offered through the ASU Study Abroad Office, which has 250-plus programs in more than 65 different countries.