International Service Immersion
Our international service immersion experiences began with our inaugural experience to Guayaquil, Ecuador in June of 2013. Students had the opportunity to be completely immersed in a culture different than their own through spending time and serving with neighbors in the Ecuadorian community. This experience of spending time and serving with our neighbors laid the foundation for our service immersion programs. Students serve and live with communities in other countries to understand that they can make an impact on someone by sharing their lives with them in mutual respect and love. Many times, students return realizing how much their lives were impacted by the communities of people where they served.
Similar to our Alternative Break programs, we hope our students will use these interactions to develop a “faith that does justice” through reflecting on our four pillars:
Reflection is the foundation of our program. Campus ministry staff and student leaders facilitate frequent reflection experiences before, during, and after Alternative Break. These experiences help participants in our programs discover new perspectives about themselves personally and spiritually. Additionally, reflection helps students engage with their Alternative Break experiences on a deeper level because they utilize concepts found in Catholic Social Teaching, such as the inherent dignity of the human person, our rights and responsibilities to others, and solidarity.
Our Four Pillars are:
- Service: This pillar acknowledges the importance of giving back to others in actions such as building homes or serving at a soup kitchen. However, we believe that “service” is a lifestyle. Even though participants serve for only a week, this service is meant to inspire a deeper commitment to serving others in every aspect of life, especially as members of the Merrimack Community.
- Community: This pillar highlights the importance of sharing experiences with one another. We come together as communities of participants who reflect together, serve, and build relationships with the individuals and communities for whom we serve.
- Solidarity: Formerly living “simply,” this pillar emphasizes the importance of humility and presence in the communities where we serve. We seek to enter the communities we serve without pretense to create mutual relationships of friendship and love with the people whom we encounter during our time in our service placements.
- Social Justice: This broad term implies that our Alternative Break experiences are only the beginning of understanding the complex lives of the communities where we serve. Social justice challenges our participants to better understand unjust social structures that may exist in the locations where we serve and take action to create awareness about these issues on Merrimack’s campus.
Finally, every dimension of our Alternative Break programs seek to embody the Augustinian values that inform the academic, social, and spiritual dimensions of the Merrimack experience.
Click on our interactive map to see where we are going this year, and where we have gone in the past!