What is the Appalachian Experience?

The Appalachian Experience is a Spring Break immersion program that is committed to serving with and for others while learning about the culture and concerns of the people of the Appalachian region.  Participants will meet together several times throughout the year for preparation, education, and team-building, all of which lead toward the spring break immersion experience.

For over 25 years, Saint Joseph's University has been sending students to the Appalachian Region. In 2020, over 300 undergraduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends traveled to 18 different sites seeking to learn, encounter and serve, giving witness to the call to be men and women with and for others and to encounter God present in all things. 

View the 18 APEX 2020 Sites


Appalachian Experience Mission Statement:

The Appalachian Experience is a service immersion experience dedicated to the region of Appalachia, guided by the mission of Saint Joseph’s University, and the Catholic Jesuit tradition by: 

  • Recognizing the unconditional and universal dignity of all people and in all of creation;
  • Fostering community growth in the spirit of solidarity;
  • Committing to education and action concerning the issues of poverty and injustice in the region;
  • Furthering the personal growth of participants;
  • Challenging ourselves to understand the past, experience the present, and look forward to with hope to the future.

Appalachian Experience FAQs:

1. What will I be doing there?

Work depends on each site. Typically, the work entails house building, painting, mulching, or concrete laying. After work, there will be free-time for community time and reflection. In addition, there is one cultural day dedicated to learning about the area you are visiting.

2. How much does the trip cost?

When submitting the application, there is a $100 deposit fee. A second payment is due in December. Participants are encouraged to fundraise for this additional payment and information on fundraising will be provided at the first meeting. The total cost for APEX 2020 was $550 per person.

3. What do I pack?

Each set of site leaders will be sending out a packing list to each participant. Typically, it is one suitcase/duffel bag and a small carry-on bag. Some items include: Jeans, boots, work-shirts, hats, gloves, and clothes to wear after each day.

4. Do I need to be religious?

Students come to the program with many different experiences of faith and at many different points along their personal journeys. All are welcomed and embraced right where they are. The only expectation in this regard is that each participant be open to the full APEX experience, which includes reflection and prayer, and be respectful and receptive to the experience of others. The program is based in Campus Ministry and is rooted in the Catholic, Jesuit values of service, solidarity and the call to seek and discover God present in all things, people and places.

5. If my son or daughter gets hurt, will they be treated properly?

Yes. Before the trip, we collect each particpant's insurance information. In addition, each Leader and Adult Facilitator will have all the information regarding the closest hospital, police station, and all Saint Joseph's University contacts. If your son or daughter gets hurt, they will be taken care of immediately.


For More Information, Please Contact:

Program Director:

Sr. Catherine Kirwan-Avila, ACJ

ckirwana@sju.edu

2021 Student Peer Ministers:

Anna O'Brien, Emily Fordham, Mike Stone


Phone:
610-660-1034