How to Gain Intercultural Understanding
Jaro Bellier '17, Sustainability Intern for Buildings & Grounds
“The trip broadened my worldview, I was able to interact with people who at first seemed so different, yet through the experience I learned that we were very similar; all a part of the same human family,” explained Gary Vincent, a student who went on the summer 2016 Ignatian Center immersion to Cholula, Mexico.
As one of the SCU’s Centers of Distinction, the Ignatian Center strives to create students as ‘whole persons’, offering a balance in the integration of faith, justice, and the intellectual life. Each year, the Ignatian Center organizes a number of immersion experiences, ‘both local and global, which are designed to help participants see the world with new eyes, to recognize the unjust suffering of marginalized communities and individuals, and to allow those experiences to inform their vocational discernment.’
The Cholula program is an immersion hosted by Enlaces Comunitarios Internacionales A.C., a non-profit organization with a goal of building links between different individuals and their surrounding community to create networks that promote environmental responsibility, justice, and intercultural understanding. The organization takes a group of students to Cholula, Mexico for a week where its founder and president Arturo Ortega leads them in valuable experiences and lessons about political and social reality, sustainable agriculture, and spirituality through immersion in the traditions and day to day lives of the locals.
During the one-week immersion, students are given a tour of the city and an introduction to the culture, Sunday traditions, and the city’s history. Students are also exposed to the poverty issues in Mexico, sustainability, resource management, and the Community Center for Sustainable Development (Centro Comunitario de Desarrollo Sustentable). Towards the end of the week, students have the opportunity to learn about the lifestyles and traditions of local families during a two-day homestay with the community near the Center.
Arturo hopes that those on these immersion trips leave with a greater appreciation and awareness of resources in general, as well as understanding that we as humans are resources ourselves, and by sharing and being more efficient with both our resources and our knowledge, we have the ability to create better environments and better communities. We all are in an incredible position to affect great change in the world, whether we initiate it or assist in its materialization. Join one of the Ignatian Center’s immersions program as a student or faculty/staff companion this academic year!