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Class of 2022 First Year Immersion


While San Jose is known as a thriving, multicultural hub of the region, it is also a place of large-scale homelessness, marginalization, food scarcity, and escalating tensions around immigration. This year's First Year San Jose Immersion introduced 13 incoming students to the realities of urban life within this Silicon Valley boom-town. But the experience was so much more than that.

Below are the Top Ten favorite experiences as shared by our trip leaders. 

Students talking on First Year Immersion

1. I loved meeting the Class of 2022! Every year a new and diverse population of students enters the university. Being able to meet those students before school even starts is quite the privilege! I enjoy getting to know who these students are and seeing their potential to contribute to the SCU community over the next four years.

- Kayla Wells – Program Director of Immersions

2. I enjoyed watching the students reflect on their personal ideology and/or beliefs. The great thing about the first year immersion in particular, is that it allows students to identify the questions they need to ask themselves. The timing of this immersion is perfect. The experience provides meaningful perspective right before the students enter college, a critical time for the development of their identity and value system.

- James Grom – Student Coordinator 

3. Listening to small group conversations in which students were sharing stories about about their families culture, traditions, and work ethic was very impactful.

 -Valerie Sarma - Senior Program Director, Student Engagement & Special Projects

4. I saw the formation of new friendships. 13 strangers became close friends in a matter of just four days. They joked, shared deep stories, and, by doing so, bonded together.

- Brother Eddie Ngo – Program Director of Immersions

Students cleaning up First Year Immersions

5. I was impressed by the power of LGBTQ Youth Space. It's an empowering space for youth and offers support, safe space, community, programs, etc. 

- Valerie Sarma - Senior Program Director, Student Engagement and Special Projects 

6. It was great to see the breaking down of barriers, boundaries, and stereotypes. Our encounters with the community, whom many would consider "the other" or "a stranger," allow us to see people in their common humanity. After hearing their stories, we are able to see a friend, a family member, or ourselves in them. With that, our connectedness is apparent.

- Kayla Wells – Program Director of Immersions

7. Watching the students learning to be men and women for others. The students engaged with the communities wherever they went, serving the poor and unhoused at Sacred Heart Community Services, listening to stories of Jesuit Volunteers, sharing their lives with the Greater Washington area families, picking up litter in the park with LGBTQ youth and young adults at Youth Space, and going deeply into the reality of those marginalized individuals.

- Brother Eddie Ngo – Program Director of Immersions

First Year students eating ice cream

8. Watching the students join the Washington Elementary community was really great. On the immersion we received a home cooked meal and, despite a language barrier, had great conversation with las Madres. This Friday a number of students returned to the school for an unveiling of a school mural. One of the immersion participants even got a job at the school. It was also really great to hear about all Santa Clara is doing to empower this community.

- James Grom – Student Coordinator

9. Accompanying the students on an intentional walk through San Jose. Our guide, Anthony King, is a social justice advocate who shared his personal story of experiencing homelessness with the students.

- Valerie Sarma - Senior Program Director, Student Engagement and Special Projects

10. The experience created a safe space for vulnerable conversation. A large number of students this year were open to sharing about difficult parts of their lives. It was incredible to see how the students comforted one another. This sharing encouraged the group to become incredibly close. It's awesome to see how students came away from the immersion with a support system, even before getting to college.

- James Grom – Student Coordinator


September Newsletter, Fall2018