The major inspiration for the Immersion Program of Saint Mary’s College High School is based in the call of Jesus to the first disciples, “Come and see.” (John 1.39) This was an invitation to these individuals to step out of their normal lives and to encounter God in a new way. Saint Mary’s Immersion Program provides opportunities for students to do the same, for they leave the life of a Bay Area teenager and encounter God in the people on the margins of our society, global or local.
Saint Mary’s Immersions are not tourist experiences, but instead, are community-based experiences, witnessing real-life situations. Participants develop a deep respect for the people, history, and cultures of places which they visit. They come to recognize anew God’s presence in the lives and cultures of the peoples encountered, yet this can only occur with a willingness to be personally challenged by the stories, experiences, and human connections within the immersion experience.
For the 2016-2017 Academic Year, the following immersions will be run in conjunction with the Enrichment Week program in March 2017.
Oki Ni Soo Ka Wa – Blackfeet Reservation, Browning, Montana – Participants on Oki Ni Soo Ka Wa (Blackfeet for “come and see”) encounter the situations of life of on a Native American reservation by means of volunteering at De La Salle Blackfeet School, a ministry of the De La Salle Brothers of the Midwest District.
Vandu Paaru – Tamil Nadu, India – God’s light shines brightly in the people of India, especially acknowledged by the frequent Tamil greeting “Vanakkam”, an acknowledgement of God’s presence in the other person. In this immersion experience, with the Brothers and Lasallians of Southern India, students from Saint Mary’s live and work with the Brothers, students, and orphans of Boys Town and St. Joseph’s Boys Village and Girls Village.
Vin We Non – Port-Au-Prince, Haiti – In partnership with the What If? Foundation, and related to curricular initiatives, the Vin We Non (Haitian Créole for “come and see”) Immersion explores the situation of the Haitian people, who live in a country with abundant natural resources, yet remains the poorest within the Western Hemisphere.
El Otro Lado – Tucson, Arizona – An immersion centered around the issue of Immigration, El Otro Lado (Spanish for “the other side”) is a chance for students to come to a greater understanding of immigration issues from multiple sides of the discussion. Students will join other students from San Miguel High School, another Lasallian high school, for this program.
As the experience of immersion requires great maturity and willingness to grow, the Haiti and El Salvador programs are reserved to junior and senior students, the Tucson and Montana immersions are open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Brother David L. Caretti, FSC, EdD
Director of Campus Ministry