Philadelphia Service Immersion Program or PSIP is a four day experience prior to move-in freshman year. The program allowed me to become acquainted with Saint Joseph’s community as well as the “City of Brotherly Love.”
After I received my acceptance letter and sent in my deposit to Saint Joseph’s, I was eager to get on campus as soon as possible. When I received an email about the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program, I was given the opportunity to move in a few days prior to everyone else.
There were around 100 freshmen that participated in the program. The only other freshmen that were on campus were athletes or students in other early move-in programs. The PSIP participants were broken-up into groups with an upperclassmen leader.
Prior to PSIP, I had only volunteered at my church. During PSIP, each group has their own service site. My location was at the Kairos House, right in Philadelphia. It provides transitional and permanent housing for people who are or have been homeless. We served food and had meaningful conversations with the residents. It was inspiring to see how their spirits were high, no matter what hardships they had endured. Kairos House was their home, and it meant a lot that they opened it up to us.
PSIP not only allowed me to become familiar with Saint Joseph’s Jesuit Values of social justice, but also the culture of the city. We were introduced to the city through a mural tour led by a professor at Saint Joseph’s. As we toured the city, we stopped at each mural, read a description of it, and talked about what struck our interests. Each PSIP group had a unique city adventure.
In the evening, there would be both large and small group discussions, where we reflected on the day. After the discussions, you could relax, socialize, and play games. Everybody was open to talking to other people and eager to make friends. Sometimes, PSIP felt like a sleep away camp prior to school.
Starting anything new can be exhausting, especially college, so this was an easier way to become comfortable with the transition. I can attribute my transition to becoming a Hawk being smooth and painless to PSIP. Because of this program, I had less worries when school started. I had friends. I knew where everything was on campus. I felt comfortable using public transportation. I was able to feel comfortable being myself on Hawk Hill.
Participating in PSIP provided me with the spirit, intellect, and purpose that helped me to feel comfortable starting the school year. After being a part of PSIP, I wanted to get involved with everything that PSIP taught me. The positive atmosphere of the program enabled me to feel comfortable with my new surroundings. This compelled me to be an active member on campus and take advantage of the various opportunities that Saint Joseph’s has to offer. During the first few weeks of school I felt comfortable enough sign up for another service trip, Appalachia Experience. PSIP opened the door to the values of St. Joe’s and introduced me to what Philadelphia can offer.
If you participate in the Philadelphia Summer Immersion Program, the campus will feel smaller to you than it actually is. Freshmen that do not participate in PSIP will be jealous because the first day of school you will be walking around campus waving and saying hi to people.