At Wheeling Jesuit, students are encouraged to continually develop and challenge themselves in the service world. A way to do this is by going on one of the immersion trips offered during university breaks. Each immersion is unique to its own geographical location, population demographics and community dimensions. Immersions allow students to recognize the difficulties of diverse environments, many of which parallel the same issues that we see in Wheeling. Students are challenged to bring back the skills and understanding they received on the immersion to better serve the Wheeling Community.
Established in 2008 the Boston trip focuses on social justice issues related to immigration and diversity. Students that participate in this trip live with the Sisters of St. Joseph and serve at several different ministries such as Casserly House (Casserly offers tutoring in English and an after school program for children in the neighborhood), Grover Cleveland Adult Learning Center (students tutored English), Sacred Heart School, Women's Lunch Place and Casa Nueva Vida (Bi-Lingual Women's Shelter).
Started in 2006, students stay at the Romero Center and are exposed to working with issues related to urban poverty. Camden is one of the poorest cities in the United States so while in Camden students serve at a day shelter for the homeless, an after school program with at risk children, HIV/AIDS drop-in center, soup kitchens, elderly centers and a wheelchair community for people with disabilities. This trip has also become the Urban Immersion experience for the Junior Class of Arrupe Scholars.
El Paso, TX:
The highlight of this trip is on social justice issues regarding immigration, human rights and economic development. The El Paso and Ciudad Juarez metropolitan area is the biggest border community in the world with a combined population close to three million people. El Paso and Ciudad Juarez are also one of the main entry points into the US for undocumented workers and drugs. During this trip students immerse in the border culture and realities of the many people and groups that live and work there. Everything from the food you eat to the conditions you live in are as much part of the experience as those you meet.
For most of recent history the people of El Salvador have been living under an oppressive government that made everyday life a struggle. Thanks to the work of Oscar Romero, SJ. The people of El Salvador have been able to rise above and take control of their country. Students will have the experience of serving in a medical clinic, an orphanage for malnourished children, a kids program, building projects as well as learning about the life and mission of Fr. Oscar Romero.
Mingo County, WV:
Mingo County West Virginia has been host to several different service trips. The Health Care Immersion involves students providing health screenings, first aid and CPR classes, and health awareness to the people of Appalachia. In an area with limited access to health care this allows students studying to become nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and physical therapists the opportunity to get real world experience in their field of study while helping fill a need in the community.
Mingo County is also host for the Appalachian Experience club's annual Wood Chopping trip. This event takes place in the Fall Semester and is a great service to the local residents in helping them stock up on fuel for the coming winter. The Sophomore Arrupe Scholars Immersion also takes place in Mingo County. This trip comprises of learning about poverty in a rural environment and working with non-profits in the local town of Kermit, WV.
New Orleans/Gulf Relief:
In January of 2006 Wheeling Jesuit students made their first trip to New Orleans in an effort to help residents of Louisiana clean up after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Since then Wheeling Jesuit students, staff and alumni have made seven trips to the gulf to help with recovery efforts. Each group works on projects that help the elderly, poor and disabled residents rebuild their lives as well as an effort towards rebuilding the regions wetlands.
Through the National Coalition for the Homeless students will confront the issues, realities and hardships of poverty and homelessness while participating in the Student Homeless Challenge Project in D.C. On this immersion students will dress down, empty their wallets and spend 48 hours living on the streets of D.C. as homeless people. This is an opportunity to talk with those that are homeless or who have experienced homelessness to break down barriers between the housed and the homeless where the streets become the teacher.