There are five core values the Ignatian Service Immersion embraces as central to the mission of the program: simplicity, solidarity, spirituality, service, and social justice. These values are present in various ways throughout the trip, differing in emphasis and impact from site to site and participant to participant.
SIMPLICITY. Traveling to local and international settings with less access to resources, we consciously choose to step out of our comfort zones to gain perspective and examine our own lifestyles in a new way. We intentionally let go of the familiar concepts of time, control, and power. This frees us to focus on building relationships rooted in our common humanity. ISI may give us a different perspective, allowing us to ponder the implications of global interconnectedness and interdependence: the ways that we see, judge and act in the world as well as our needs and desires, our values and our choices.
SOLIDARITY. ISI allows us to travel not just to see sights, but to immerse ourselves in another culture. It challenges us to “settle in” rather than just “travel through,” to try to learn and understand the perspectives of those we meet. The experience provides opportunities to grow and learn from the wisdom of our hosts, as well as to work alongside them as they work to improve the situation of their community. This is not because we have “the right way” to do it, but because we’ve often enjoyed a variety and wealth of resources in our own lives, and we have a responsibility to use them wisely.
SPIRITUALITY. Although most ISI trips are organized through faith-based organizations, this is not meant to be a sectarian religious experience. Rather, we hope it will meet each of us where we are on our spiritual journeys, continuing in the Jesuit tradition of “finding God in all things.” We make a conscious effort to reflect on our experiences in individual conversations and in a group setting, guided by a chaplain trained to facilitate this process. All are expected to participate openly and honestly in this process, which seeks to provide opportunities for insight and growth before, during, and following the trip itself.
SERVICE. With the concept of solidarity in mind, we serve in a spirit of partnership – of working alongside and "with", and of understanding each other. ISI seeks primarily to serve the needs of the community as community members define them. This involves but extends far beyond exposure to varied health systems and access to care, engaging in opportunities around health education about basic hygiene, nutrition, and preventive health. However we serve, we strive for an exchange based on our common humanity.
SOCIAL JUSTICE. Ideally, service should be coupled with a reflective approach to understanding unjust systems and structures which perpetuate the cycle of poverty—the systemic cause and effect relationship of global injustice. ISI emphasizes awareness of and discussion about these factors, as well as seeking solutions on a systemic level. Through this learning experience, we hope to begin or continue to walk the long, slow path of discovering and implementing development solutions for those trapped by poverty and oppression.
If these resonate with your own goals and expectations for an ISI trip, if you find yourself enthused about an experience which includes these values, and if your time, dates and availability match, then you have a sound basis for application.