Appalachian Institute: Wheeling, West Virginia
Rooted in Jesuit tradition, the Institute facilitates an experiential learning immersion where students will learn about the history and culture of Appalachia, its people, its economic parameters, and its coal industry. Students will discuss current issues facing Appalachia in this time of transition from fossil fuels, and will see firsthand some of the local environmental impacts of our coal industry as well as the social impacts of our current natural gas boom.
Students will serve community members directly through partner organizations, like the Greater Wheeling Soup Kitchen, and build connections with local residents. Participants will also learn about important community building and economic development initiatives occurring in this region through service at partner urban farms, greenspaces, and nonprofits like Grow Ohio Valley.
For more information, visit: https://wheeling.edu/student-life/campus-ministry/appalachian-institute/
Hope CommUnity Center: Apopka, Florida
Hope CommUnity Center is a service-learning community dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through education, advocacy, and spiritual growth. Hope CommUnity Center exists to serve and cultivate self-determined communities through personal, social, and communal transformation. The Center’s vision is to be the premier center of hope and empowerment for Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities.
Students on this immersion will explore topics that impact Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities, including the root causes of migration, the naturalization process, environmental justice, and community organizing, among others. Participants will broaden their perspective through direct experience. Participants spend their time living with and learning from a host family in the community. In addition, participants will learn about their host family’s reality by engaging in farm work or another model of service to better understand the economic and working conditions of many members of the community there. All of these experiences are supplemented with dialogue around a series of themes, including but not limited to: the immigration system, power and privilege, identity, Catholic social teaching, racism and white supremacy, and agro-ecology and food.
For more information, visit:
Central Detroit Christian & Pope Francis Center: Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit service immersion explores the following topics: poverty, racism, unemployment, education, community development, and homelessness. Immersion participants will spend the first part of the week working with Central Detroit Christian and the second part of the week at the Pope Francis Center. Please see below for more information on both of these organizations.
Central Detroit Christian
Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a non-profit, faith based organization committed to creating opportunities and empowering individuals through education, employment opportunities, financial literacy, and access to housing. Their mission is to help individuals reach their highest potential while transforming the community to be a place of peace and wholeness. Central Detroit Christian directly serves those living in the 48202 and 48206 zip codes of Detroit.
Students participating in this immersion will learn about the historical context of these zip codes and explore topics that impact the community that resides there, including: racism, education, unemployment, access to affordable housing and home ownership, and community development. Students will engage with community members directly through service projects within these zip codes and shared meals. Service projects are determined by the needs of the community at the time of the immersion. Examples from past immersions have included: assisting with home repairs, prepping the community garden, and assisting with the afterschool program.
For more information, visit: https://www.centraldetroitchristian.org/
Pope Francis Center
Located in the heart of downtown Detroit, Pope Francis Center provides vital services to individuals experiencing homelessness. On an average day, the Center welcomes nearly 200 guests and provides them with nutritious meals, showers, laundry, and access to doctors, dentists, lawyers, and housing providers through free clinics. They’ve been serving Detroit’s most vulnerable citizens since 1990, and are committed to eradicating chronic homelessness in Detroit.
Immersion participants will engage directly with guests, assist with preparing and serving meals, and helping with the upkeep of the Center. Participants will also have opportunities to reflect on their experience and encounters with guests.
For more information, visit: https://popefranciscenter.org/
Br. David Darst Center: Chicago, IL
This immersion serves as an experiential learning space to build community, work with local partner agencies, dig into reflection on injustices and their root causes, and create action plans to address those injustices. Community comes through shared time cooking and cleaning, meals, storytelling, and practicing values of hospitality, inclusion, and stewardship as a group. Through partnerships with local agencies, participants are able to get to know people in Chicago directly impacted by injustices, challenge societal stereotypes, and break down barriers that continue to perpetuate inequity and indifference. This trip focuses on the intertwined nature of injustices by highlighting the systems of homelessness, food insecurity, incarceration, education, and immigration. Through various activities and group dialogue, participants will reflect on the underlying causes of what they see at partner agencies, and discern their own responsibility and action plans going forward.
For more information, visit: https://darstcenter.org/what-we-do/immersion-retreats/