Saint Louis University Menu Search

Immersion Experiences

Whether you are called to serve in unfamiliar surroundings far from home, or you are drawn to explore the meaning of social justice just a few blocks from campus, SLU offers a range of immersive experiences to expand your understanding of stewardship and community.

For more information, contact Michelle Verner or Jen Petruso, Immersion Program Coordinators, at or 314-977-2425. 

Trip Descriptions

St. Louis, MO - Urban Justice Issues

This is an opportunity to explore social justice issues close to home. We will examine some of the economic, racial, political and religious divisions in St. Louis and talk to groups who are trying to effect change. During the immersion, we will use social analysis and open, faith-based reflections to discern how SLU, and each of us, can be a better neighbor in the community and be more and more ‘with and for others.’

Trip Cost: $150


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.  There is also a day trip to understand the realities of New Orleans, LA.

Trip Cost: $300

The L'Arche Community

Wheeling, WV - 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 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.

Trip Cost: $300

PATCH Community and Children First

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department

Keeper of the Mountains Foundation

Milwaukee, WI - Urban Plunge Experience

Casa Romero’s Urban Plunge experiences develop cultural sensitivity and awareness of urban issues through reflection, prayer, service projects and agency visits.
Groups examine more critically two issues those living in poverty are forced to face, homelessness and hunger. Groups reflect on the poverty rates of different demographics of people in an urban population, examine culturally stereotypes associated with living in poverty. Casa Romero’s Urban Plunge gives participants the opportunity to put aside their day to day distractions and immerse themselves into important urban issues through visiting agencies, working on community service projects, listening to stories of community residents, and reflecting together on tough questions. More than just a service trip, Casa Romero’s Urban Plunge offers participants time together in reflection, inspiring new perspectives of seeing their interconnections with all people.

Trip Cost: $300

Casa Romero Center

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.

Trip Cost: $300

Learn About St. Anne's Mission

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 to help bring the tools of Ignatian spirituality to young men in prison. 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.

Trip Cost: $600

Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative

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.

Trip Cost: $600

Cristo Rey Border Immersion Program

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 and by camping in the desert.

Trip Cost: $600

Kino Border Initiative

Student Leadership Opportunities 

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!


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 2-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 six 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 November, and the Sending Forth Service several days before the start of the trips.


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.


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 least once 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 (all members of the group should share this responsibility, but it is the student leaders’ responsibility to get the conversations going). Student leaders must also be present for and may be asked to help with the Post-trip Day of Reflection which takes place in 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!


2018-9 Program dates

March 21, 2018: Student Leader Application goes live
April 13, 2018: Student Leader Applications are DUE
May 1, 2018: Student Leader selections made
Sept. 13, 2018 5:30-7:30pm:  Student leader formation #1
Sept. 14-15, 2018:   Student Leader Formation Retreat
Sept. 20, 2018  6-7 pm: Information session (choose one to help with)
Sept. 26, 2018 6-7 pm:   Information session (choose one to help with)
Sept. 27, 2018 5:30-7:30pm:  Student leader formation #2
Oct. 11, 2018 5:30-7:30pm:   Student leader formation #3
Oct. 25, 2018 5:30-7:30pm:   Student leader formation #4
Nov. 8, 2018 5:30-7:30pm:   Student leader formation #5
Nov. 29, 2018 5:30-7:30pm: Program Kickoff Event
Dec. 6, 2018 5:30-7:30pm:   Student leader formation #6
Jan. 17, 2019 5:30-7:30pm:   Student leader formation #7
Jan. 21 - Mar. 1, 2019: Six weeks of preparation meetings with trip
March 7, 2019 6-7pm:   Sending Forth service
March 8/9 - 16/17, 2019: Spring Break Immersion Trips!
Week of March 18-22, 2019: Post-trip meeting with trip participants
March 30, 2019 9am-5pm: Post-trip Day of Reflection
March - April, 2019: Complete Solidarity Projects

Apply to be an Immersion Trip Student Leader