BY ISN STAFF | July 27, 2023
From June 6-8, 2023 in New York City, 21 immersion coordinators from Jesuit and other Catholic colleges and universities gathered for the first in-person Immersion Coordinators Summit since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Summit invites immersion coordinators to network and share best practices around ethical and holistic immersion program experiences.
Presentations and conversation centered around immersions as a means of promoting accompaniment and unity, strategies to increase student participation, preparing students for what they will witness, trauma-informed care in immersions, and the ways that the pandemic has informed and shifted immersive learning experiences.
Throughout the gathering, it was emphasized that immersion learning is an important, complex, and constantly-changing educational opportunity at Jesuit and Catholic colleges and universities. One of the recent innovations to immersion learning is a focus not on traveling to faraway places but rather on bringing students into authentic relationship with the local community. Gonzaga University’s Center for Community Engagement focuses on place-based community engagement in Spokane, WA and specifically in the Logan neighborhood where Gonzaga is located. At DePaul University, too, one-day local immersions have become highly successful.
Tinamarie Stolz | Campus Minister, St. Joseph’s University
“Immersions are so much more than taking students on a trip. There’s a way that we do immersions as the Ignatian family, and it is harder—it upholds the dignity of ourselves, of community partners, that focuses on encounter, and it is much harder and it takes more time, effort, and prep work, but I’ve never been more assured in that. I left the Summit feeling very confident in what we’re trying to do. It was nice to be with people who work for that, not just because it’s their job, but because it’s their mission.”
Emily Rauer Davis | Associate Chaplain, Director of Domestic Immersions, College of the Holy Cross
“I appreciated the opportunity to connect with colleagues at other Jesuit and Catholic institutions, share resources, and discuss the joys and challenges of this work. I walked away from each presentation with ideas for how to enhance our program at Holy Cross, and with an eye for which elements of our 50+ year-old program need to be evaluated more critically. I plan to look closely at our student leader formation and assessment processes, as well as create a more comprehensive assessment plan with our community partners to ensure that these immersion experiences continue to be beneficial and lifegiving for all involved.”
Joseph Citera | Campus Minister – 4Boston Volunteers, Boston College
“The Immersion Coordinator Summit was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to connect with colleagues across the country who were also deeply invested in this type of work. Between the connections I formed and the sessions I attended, I was left feeling rejuvenated about my vocation and more prepared to strengthen my program’s curriculum for the upcoming academic year. I received both practical and theoretical tools to help think about and reshape my program to better align it with its mission and goals.”
Marie MacDonald | Program Coordinator, Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) | Creighton University, Global Engagement Office (GEO)
“This was my first ISN conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a program coordinator for international immersions, it was amazing to be able to dive into deeper topics, brainstorm new initiatives, come together to work on collective challenges, and truly support each other and our work in the field. After attending the conference, I was able to come back to my institute and share all that I had learned with my teammates and explore ideas to be more intentional, ethical, integrative, and mutually beneficial with our local communities.”
Adrian Laudani | Resident Minister, University Ministry, The University of San Francisco
“The Immersion Coordinators Summit was a truly life-giving few days. It’s an immeasurable experience to be surrounded by professionals who understand and care deeply about the work that ministry strives to achieve. It’s truly unique being able to walk away with the motivation to cultivate fresh ideas and a new perspective. Very grateful for everything I learned from my fellow coordinators!”
Schools represented include Boston College, College of the Holy Cross, Creighton University, DePaul University, Gonzaga University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Mount St. Mary’s University, Saint Joseph’s University, Saint Louis University, Saint Peter’s University, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, Spring Hill College, University of Detroit Mercy, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, and Villanova University.