The 2 ½ day immersion program is designed to concretize poverty through a personal level experience and provide the students with opportunities to develop a bond with the basic sectors. The seniors are led towards a more mature and personal interior integration of faith with life, particularly in the promotion of Social Justice. Together with the Theology 141 faculty, the Office for Social Concern and Involvement labor to form student leaders who will feel enough solidarity with the marginalized sectors in society to advocate their cause thus leading to a more concrete response to poverty.
At the end of the 2 ½ day of Immersion, the students are expected to:
• Describe the existing social structures and how it affects the marginalized sectors (in a macro and micro level);
• Identify the causes and effects of poverty in the context of Social Development;
• Develop an understanding of common good by integrating experiences, issues of the sector, and theories learned in class;
• Explain the relation of their experiences to the Catholic Social Teachings.
• Demonstrate the ability of effective integration (through community/institution-based immersion);
• Advocate issues / concerns of the marginalized sector;
• Develop critical analysis.
• Be Christ-centered;
• Have preferential option for the poor and be in solidarity with the marginalized;
• Be patriotic, committed and socially response-able.
Phases of the Immersion Program
Before the Immersion
A. Site Investigation
The OSCI identifies the basic sectors through consultations with the Theology 141 teachers and the partner institutions such as NGOs. The program staff of the OSCI gather data regarding the different sectors and use these data in the deliberation of host communities.
The sectors identified for this semester are: Farmers, Fisher folk, Tribal, Women, Children, Labor (formal & informal), Urban Poor, Differently-able, and some environment areas.
At the end of the Site Investigation Stage, the OSCI seeks to meet the following objectives:
• Identify the areas that will provide a rich learning experience for the students
• Become familiar with the area and gather data
• Set up measures to ensure the safety of the students
• Identify possible problems and interventions
• Define roles and expectations
• Set the itinerary of the 3-day immersion with the institutions and communities concerned.
The Two Phases of Site Investigation
A.1 Institution Level
The OSCI initiates contact with prospective host institutions through phone calls and formal letters. These institutions are identified through referrals by partner institutions and contact assessment. Consultations are held to further define and clarify the objectives, process, roles, obligations and expectations of all organizations concerned.
After a series of meetings, the institutions are deliberated on, using the following criteria:
- Has a good institutional track record
- Actively operates in the community
- Is recognized by the Local Government Units.
- Is open to and/ or shares a common belief with the objectives of the program
A.2 Barangay Level
After deliberation, the OSCI chooses the People’s Organizations (POs) situated in the respective communities that have been referred by the host institutions. The OSCI schedules meetings with the POs and identifies prospective host families. It is in this stage that the OSCI
• Becomes familiar with the area, meet with the host families and gather data
• Sends letters to the barangay captain and parish leaders to inform them of the project
• Gives a basic orientation of the program to the barangay captain, parish leaders and host families.
The community and the host families are assessed using the following criteria:
- Presence of an active PO which has hold in the community
- Organization of the areas to represent a sector
- Presence of a Social Issue exhibiting marginalization of the sector they represent
- Assurance of security for the students
- Proximity of the area to Ateneo not exceeding 6-hour travel
- Openness to and/ or sharing of a common belief with the objectives of the program
After the deliberation on communities, the OSCI and the host families discuss and plan the itinerary for the weekend. The discussions are intended to make the immersion most applicable to their community.
B. Orientation of the Students
Orienting the students about the program is part of the measures taken by OSCI to assure security and to avoid unpleasant incidents in the immersion areas. During this orientation, the students are given a briefing on the following:
1. The objectives, framework, process and output of the program
2. Community Integration and the Rules of Immersion
3. The community issues, host families, host NGO and PO
** A “NO ORIENTATION, NO IMMERSION” policy is strictly enforced!
**The OSCI had put such a policy into place to avoid sending students who do not have a good grasp of the situation in their respective immersion areas
This is the stage when insertion, the main event of the immersion program, takes place. For two and a half days, the students are assigned to foster families to experience and be one with the lives of people living in the marginalized and less privileged sectors of Philippine society. They live with the family and share in their day-to-day activities. They eat, sleep, talk and work with them. It is through this proves that students can become one with their plight and be able to identify with their issues and problems.
The OSCI processes the immersion experiences of the students either on Saturday night or Sunday morning of the students’ weekend in the area. This activity is complemented by the students’ evaluation of the immersion activity.
The processing activity aims to deepen the experiences of the students with their respective foster families in the community. Hopefully, through the shared reflections of their experiences, the students get a better understanding of what GOD really wants to share with them during their communion with the marginalized people of our society.
An evaluation will be conducted with the host organization so that the OSCI can receive feedback on the implementation and impact of the Immersion Program both from the organization as well as from the community .