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Immersion Experiences

Are you interested in getting out of the “Saint Louis University bubble” to learn more about the injustices present in this country? Do you want to build community with fellow students through engaging in meaningful conversations about faith and justice? Are you ready to discover how you are being called to work toward a more just world?

Through engaging in the pillars of Community, Spirituality, Justice, and Solidarity, the Campus Ministry Spring Break Immersion Program will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone in order to accompany people on the margins and to critically engage with the social injustices facing those people — and to allow yourself to be radically transformed in the process.

While your actual immersion trip may last only a week, the knowledge you gain and the growth you experience will last long after that, and our program will continue to support and engage you in your ongoing efforts to work for justice in your communities and to stand in solidarity through practices of accompaniment and advocacy.

Applications for the 2019-2020 immersion program are now open! Apply here by November 3rd. Contact Michelle Verner, Immersion Program Coordinator, at michelle.verner@slu.edu or 314-977-1532 with any questions.

Financial assistance is available for any student who wishes to participate in an immersion experience but would have difficulty paying the total cost. Please click here or contact michelle.verner@slu.edu to apply for financial assistance by Nov. 15, 2019.

Student Leader Requirements

Serving as a student leader on an immersion experience allows you to be a role model and a guide to your fellow participants.

You will help your peers enter more fully into the host community and be open to the challenges posed by seeing the world from a new perspective. You’ll assist others in understanding the program pillars of community, spirituality, solidarity and social justice as they relate to your particular trip and how those concepts can be integrated into their lives after they return to SLU.

You don’t need to be an expert on any of the immersion trips or social justice issues to be a student leader-- you just need to be open to learning more, walking with your fellow students, and sharing your wisdom!

Before

Prior to the immersion experience, you will build community with fellow student leaders and get to know yourself as a leader on an Immersion Student Leader Retreat, engage in seven two-hour sessions of student leader formation throughout the fall and early spring semester based on the pillars of the program (community, spirituality, solidarity and social justice), assist in the publicity and recruiting efforts for the Immersion Program, help with the trip participant selection process and take the lead on planning and facilitating five pre-trip meetings with the trip group in the spring semester (with assistance and mentoring from staff facilitators).

Student leaders will also be present for all-community events leading up to the trips, including info sessions in September, the Program Kickoff event in late January, and the Sending Forth Service just before the immersion trips leave.

During

While participating in your immersion, you will demonstrate the values of the program through your behavior, as well as help the facilitators assess the needs and concerns of other students and help facilitate reflection during the course of the trip. Student leaders will model an attitude of openness to challenge and growth, maturity, and respect for the host communities that are visited on each trip.

After

Following your return to campus, student leaders are key to helping the group process and integrate the experience into their lives at SLU. Each group will meet at twice following their trip to begin to process their experiences on the trip and to explore what solidarity looks like here on campus. Student leaders are responsible for spearheading a post-trip “solidarity project” with their group. Student leaders must also be present for and may be asked to help with the Post-trip Day of Reflection which takes place a couple of weeks after the trips.

Student leadership positions are serious, year-long commitments requiring three to five hours a week, and more in the weeks leading up to big events. This commitment should be discerned carefully, as the full commitment and excitement of our student leaders makes this program success!

2019-2020 Program dates

Sept. 23, 2019: Application launch
Oct. 1, 2019 6-7 p.m.: Information session
Oct. 30, 2019 6-7 p.m.: Information session
Nov. 3, 2019: Applications/Deposits due
Nov. 26: Participant forms due
Dec. 10, 2019: 1st payment due
Jan. 20, 2020: 2nd payment due
Jan. 23, 2020 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Program Kickoff Event
Jan. 27 - Feb 28, 2020: Five weeks of pre-trip meetings with individual trip groups
March 5, 2020 6-7 p.m.: Sending Forth service
March 6/7 - 14/15, 2020: Spring Break Immersion Trips
Week of March 23rd, 2020: Post-trip meeting with individual trip group
March 28, 2020 9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Post-trip Day of Reflection
March - April, 2020: Solidarity Projects

 

Trip Descriptions

Mobile, AL - Building Community with L’Arche

This immersion is designed to help you see the world through the experiences, unique challenges and joys of someone with an intellectual and or physical disability. You will spend a week with the L'Arche Community, an organization that provides homes and workplaces where people with and without disabilities share life together as peers. You will serve with the community as a companion and helper, sharing meals, having conversations and accompanying members, as well as performing basic maintenance such as painting and cleaning in the houses themselves or at partner agencies.

Who we work with: L’Arche of Mobile

Trip cost: $300

Pre-trip meetings: Thursdays, 6:30-8pm

West Virginia - Public Health in Appalachia

Through this trip you will examine the unique public health challenges created by rural poverty in Appalachia, as well as the ways local communities are and are not addressing them. You will spend time in various sites in rural West Virginia, where you will attend presentations about alcohol and drug abuse, access to nutritious food, and the effects of environmental degradation due to industrial activities in the region. You will also work with the local agencies below  to gain a more nuanced understanding of these issues through personal connection with patients in public health clinics and children in after-school programs.

Who we work with: Appalachian Institute of Wheeling Jesuit University, ABLE Families

Trip cost: $300

Pre-trip meetings: Tuesdays, 5-6:30pm

Chicago, IL- Homelessness & Food Insecurity

 This trip, in partnership with the Br. David Darst Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, IL, serves as an experiential learning space to confront injustices and the reality of oppression. Through partnerships with local agencies in Chicago, trip participants are able to get to know people directly impacted, challenge societal stereotypes, and break down barriers that continue to perpetuate inequity and indifference. We focus on the intertwined nature of injustices in our programming by focusing on the systems of homelessness and food insecurity.

Who we work with: Br. David Darst Center for Justice & Peace, Spirituality & Education

Trip cost: $300

Pre-trip meetings: Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm

Navajo Nation, AZ - Spirituality, Culture, and Justice

At St. Anne’s Mission located on the Navajo Nation, we will immerse in service and education, helping with some manual work and visiting with students at a local Catholic school. You will learn from some Navajos about life on a reservation today. There will be a focus on public health-related issues including substance abuse, diabetes and access to healthy food. You will also experience the distinctive cultural richness of the Navajo people, including their history, landscape, mythology and rituals, learning opportunities for solidarity and accompaniment.

Who we work with: Saint Anne’s Mission

Trip cost: $300

Pre-trip meetings: Wednesdays 6-7:30

Los Angeles, CA - Restorative Justice and the Criminal Justice System  

This immersion explores how crime impacts communities, what measures and policies can help them heal, and what our responsibilities are to those who have hurt us. You will work with the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative in the prisons and jails around Los Angeles County. The group will also meet with organizations working to reform the criminal justice system in California. You must be 21 years of age to participate.

Who we work with: Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, Anti Recidivism Coalition, Homeboy Industries, Inside Out Writers

Trip cost: $600

Pre-trip meetings: Mondays, 5-6:30pm

El Paso, TX/Juarez, MX - Immigration and Border Issues

Step out of your everyday life -- out of your comfort zone -- and into in-depth, experiential learning and cultural immersion.  The Border Immersion Experience is an opportunity to learn about the issues that affect lives of people living on the border. The program includes: fellowship at El Paso-Ciudad Juárez fence, presentations at various social justice ministries, assisting with after school program, personal accounts of border life exposure to Mexican & Mexican-American culture, tours of colonias (rural settlements) in El Paso, daily reflections, visit to ministries in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and bilingual worship at Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey.

Who we work with: Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey

Trip cost: $600

Pre-trip meetings: Wednesdays, 6-7:30pm

Nogales, AZ/Nogales, MX - Kino Border Initiative

This immersion, in collaboration with the Center for Service and Community Engagement, explores immigration issues through the outreach and advocacy efforts of the Kino Border Initiative, a bi-national human rights agency located literally just a few steps from the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Participants on this trip will experience the many perspectives and stories of border life, from migrant people, and those who serve them, to Border Patrol and border communities, who often struggle to balance security concerns with principles of human dignity. The experience of constant movement and migration is integrated into this trip through the lengthy drive from St. Louis to several border cities. Although many aspects of this trip are similar to other immersion trips, unique to the KBI immersion is the ongoing work the group participates in upon their return as well as the integration of community partners on our journey which typically include Loretto Volunteers, staff from the Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America and other immigrant service providers.

Who we work with: Kino Border Initiative

Trip cost: $600

Pre-trip meetings: Tuesdays, 5:30-7pm