The Ignatian Service Immersion (ISI) program began in 1993 with Loyola University Ministry staff and three medical students. Since its inception, over 1600 members of the Loyola community have immersed themselves in communities around the world, intentionally embracing the core ISI values of simplicity, solidarity, spirituality, service and social justice. We invite students, faculty, and staff within the Health Sciences Campus to consider participation in a summer ISI experience.
Through the participation of students and professionals from various disciplines including medical students, nursing students, biomedical graduate students and public health students, physicians, nursing clinicians, public health practitioners, and chaplains, the ISI trips focus primarily on education and programming rooted in addressing the social determinants of health and health disparities. Situated within a Jesuit University, ISI extends beyond the common parameters of a global health immersion experience to unite the personal and the professional through engagement in extensive preparation, reflection, and thorough evaluation. Through participation in ISI, resources and mentorship converge between immersion and work with and for underserved communities grounded in social justice.
ISI programming draws upon the interdisciplinary nature of global service immersion to introduce students to the resources and needs of a particular community. The lens through which participants view the work of the community is that of the partner organization. Through standing partnerships and ongoing programming, our partner organizations are in varying stages of assessment, programming, evaluation, and development, oftentimes simultaneously. We encourage participants to join these organizations wherever they are at, assisting however and whenever possible.
The questions we invite participants to consider are three-fold:
- Contextual: What are the salient characteristics of this particular community? Resources? Needs? Barriers? We utilize the structure of the Social Determinants of Health to guide our questions and observations.
- Structural: What makes this partner organization an effective entity within the community? What are the barriers that impede or complicate progress and development? What has guided the response of the organization to the landscape of this community? The structures that guide this question are those of Community Resource Assessment and Community Health Education.
- Personal: What are my motivations for engaging in this immersion experience, in particular, and in the world through engaging with and for underserved communities? How might this experience resonate with previous experience (values, beliefs, practice) and projected future engagement? And finally, what bearing does this have on me as a person, as a [future] practitioner, and as a global citizen educated in the Jesuit tradition? What do I hope to learn through participating in this experience? These questions will be further explored through the wisdom of Ignatian Spirituality and the principles of Jesuit Education.
While the length of each trip varies, ISI is a 10-month process beginning with a mandatory interest meeting, and continuing into discernment, fundraising, reflection, education, orientation, and immersion. Immersions have a dual foci: global citizenship and service immersion. We join local site providers in public health and health education activities, as prioritized by each particular site. Our partner sites include: health clinics and hospitals, university development projects, grassroots organizations, churches, and other not-for-profit organizations. While we learn much about international health care, our greater goal is to learn from and serve the communities we visit. We hope to return with experiences that will yield a lasting impact in our personal and professional approach to providing holistic and culturally appropriate healthcare, increasingly aware of the need for socially responsible, global (meaning local and international) health practices with a renewed and modified understanding of the importance of the social determinants of health and health disparities.
You can read more about the sites on our Trip Destinations page.