Coordinators Profiles

Melissa Crapps

by Oakland |

Through immersion, I have discovered that it is one thing to learn the definition of a concept and an entirely different thing to experience it. One concept in particular- solidarity- comes to mind when I think of leading an immersion. Before my immersion to Peru, I understood the definition of the term- to help someone by understanding their situation through the experience of it. However, the concept had never become real to me quite like it did in Lima. We were on a tourbus travelling up a steep hill to see a giant statue of Jesus Christ. As we ascended, the neighborhoods around became more impoverished. At one point I looked out upon children who had stopped playing in the narrow street to look up at me. And I realized I hated where I was at. I hated the tourbus window separating me from them, the seat putting me in a position to look down on them. I wanted to be down in the street, meeting them, learning their game, and sharing a common experience with them. I didn't need to try to fix all of their problems, or even enumerate what problems they had. The concept of solidarity was transformed from a term for volunteerism or aid into one of unity, understanding, and relationship. I hope to encourage my immersion group this winter to discover that an immersion trip is not about helping people at an arms length. I hope to continue to discover the value of shared human experience alongside my group members.

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Coordinators Profiles


Read more about the experiences of our 2013-14 immersion coordinators.

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