What is unique about IPM Immersion Experience Programs?
We believe at IPM that our Immersion model stands apart from the traditional service or volunteer trip. Our approach to Immersions focuses on person to person cross-cultural exchange as the best avenue for building a more just and peaceful world. In every case, our Immersion Experiences seek to be as community friendly as possible.
Focusing on this person-to-person exchange, IPM’s Immersion Experience is not a service project. The goal is to expand the participants’ worldview by walking in solidarity with the local communities. By meeting and living with individuals from across our global community, participants provide the greatest service there is – being present to listen and learn from their hosts. Participants’ roles are to share their compassion and to share themselves. By exposing the past and current socio-political conditions from a variety of perspectives, IPM Immersion Experiences allow participants to learn from our local friends what faith means to them, how their programs develop and improve their community, and about the local culture while taking in the sights, sounds, and foods of the country.
Additionally, Immersion Experiences give participants the chance to meet our international Project Partners. All of the Projects address the root causes of injustice and work for social change. There is an emphasis on community building, especially with women and children. By encountering and entering into relationships with our Project Partners, with whom we have long-standing relationships, an Immersion Experience participant gets to see IPM's work firsthand.
“By entering into this journey, you are accepting a call to, however briefly, live as the people in that country live, eat what they eat, and accompany them in their struggles and joys. The greatest challenge for delegations traveling with IPM is not simply to give, but also to humbly receive, to be willing to stand back and listen, […] and to enter into a partnership that teaches us as much as we can easily offer in return.”
– Joe Cistone, IPM Chief Executive Officer
G. Jeffrey MacDonald is an award winning journalist and author. Below is an excerpt from his most recent book, “Thieves in the Temple”, which highlights how MacDonald was inspired by IPM’s Immersion Experience Program model:
“These trips aim to deepen [participants’] faith by allowing them to experience how their hosts live, get to know their hosts on a personal basis, and resist the urge to fix immediately their hosts’ material problems. [Participants] ideally return home from IPM trips with changed perspectives – and with hearts widened by compassion for people who face difficult challenges every day.” (MacDonald, page 54)
It is also important to IPM that our Project Partners benefit from the cultural exchange that arises out of our Immersion Experience Program. All of our Project Partners voluntarily participate in this program and also enjoy sharing their realities with delegations.
“It’s always a pleasure when more people from other countries realize the existence of this organization and the important work that we do to benefit women, children, and youth. It’s also a motivator for us as a team that IPM is interested in bringing visitors because it promotes community. It’s also interesting that the youth get to know the initiatives that work to guarantee the well being of the most vulnerable sectors of society which is another way of coming to know and work alongside a different culture. We also think that IPM is giving an opportunity to the youth so that they have the tools to contribute to the construction of a new society.”
- Zoraida Soza Sanchez of Mujer Y Communidad, San Francisco Libre, NICARAGUA