Winter Immersion Trips at SJU happen over the winter break before spring semester classes begin. This year students will travel to Guatemala, the Gulf Coast, Ecuador, Peru, and El Paso-TX.

Applications are due Sunday September 10th at 11:59pm

Information Sessions:

  • Friday September 1st 11am - 12pm in Forum Theater
  • Tuesday September 5th 11am - 12pm in Forum Theater
  • Wednesday September 6th 11am - 12pm in Forum Theater
  • Wednesday September 6th 8pm - 9pm in Forum Theater

El Paso-TX:

This year marks the University's fourth trip to the El Paso border region with the Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey.  Students will travel to the Las Cruces and around El Paso to volunteer and learn more about issues of social justice along the U.S.-Mexican border. In a time were tensions are high along the boarder, students will come together with local community members in an intentional, ecumenical, international community to educate themselves and stand with the marginalized. You will work with a Lutheran Congregation located in the heart of a low-income Hispanic district in central El Paso. Our students will be encouraged to step outside of their everyday lives to engage in a hands-on examination of the border region and partake in a cultural immersion in the issues that affect the lives of people living between two worlds. Students will be asked to approach the week as learners with the opportunity to serve and to be served.  The border, much like the rest of America is a place of challenges and contradictions, it is our hope that your experience will bring to life this critically important issue. You’ll learn about life at la frontera from a variety of people on all sides of this critical and divisive human rights issue.

El Paso Picture

Gulf Coast--New Orleans, LA and Bayou La Batre, AL 

The Winter Immersion Trip to the Gulf Coast Region is an immersion program unlike any other here at St. Joseph’s University.  This area of the United States has endured its fair share of tragedy in recent years from Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in May 2010. In response to these disasters SJU has responded by sending teams of students to the area to assist in the restoration efforts in both the city of New Orleans and Bayou LaBatre, Alabama.   While these disasters have faded from the national spotlight, the struggle to rebuild continues.  Bayou LaBatre, Alamaba’s local shrimp fishing economy was ravaged by the environmental catastrophe caused by the BP oil spill.  You will work alongside volunteers from the Hemley Road Church of Christ.  Together you will help manage the Church’s food pantry, a critical resource for the local community.  Against incredible odds and painful hardships you’ll witness the faith and hope of a resilient community.  In New Orleans, you’ll work with Operation Nehemiah in a variety of different wards as they continue their rebuilding efforts. You’ll explore the culture, cuisine, and heritage of one of America’s most historically diverse cities. We talk about community all the time at SJU to the point that it can almost seem to be an abstract concept.  Real community can be seen when a person who has so little makes the effort to grab an extra loaf of bread for his neighbor in need.  That’s the kind of community you’ll find on the coast.



You’ll be overwhelmed by the warmth, kindness, and appreciation of the Guatemalan people as you immerse yourself in the local culture and customs of Guatemala. While knowing some Spanish will be helpful to you on your journey, don’t be discouraged if you don’t.  When you meet the children and people of San Andres Itzapa, where we’ll be working, you will instantly feel welcomed. During your visit you’ll work alongside the neighbors, parents, students of the local area to help with a variety of projects they need assistance with. You will also have the chance to make side trips see other parts of the country. The trip’s greatest gift is that it fosters an empathy and respect for the constant struggles of people’s lives, a new sense of responsibility to use your gifts and talents to help others, and a new found respect for the generosity of our neighbors.  One of last year’s participants, Danielle Crittelli, ’13 has said,  “Going to Guatemala changed my life in so many ways.  I am so much more aware of the things I do.  I try to be less wasteful, more thoughtful, and less judgmental of the people and challenges in my life.  It’s affected the way that I think about my future and changed my outlook for good. I need to take my life in a direction that helps people who are in need.” Travel to Guatemala.  Find yourself in a whole new world.  Because if you don’t see it, you’ll never understand.


Work alongside the volunteers of Rostro de Cristo in Duran, Ecuador.  Founded in 1988 by Father Jim Ronan of the Archdiocese of Boston, Rostro de Cristo’s mission is not to fix Ecudaor, but to empower it.  This program relies on building relationships with the Ecuadorian people. Unlike other programs that provide support through service projects, the SJU Immersion Program to Ecuador relies on a policy of intentionality that empowers local communities to make decisions and changes for themselves. Students will witness the hope and the challenges that co-exist side by side in the people of Ecuador, day in and day out. Participants are asked to expect that their every action will have long term consequences.  During your time in Duran, you and your fellow classmates will lead simple lives, build an intentional Christian community, develop relationships with the Ecuadorian people, and reflect on the presence of Christ in the daily struggles of the people as you work towards long-term solutions to the problems of poverty. Alison Joyce, ’12 has said of her experience, “This was the most real experience I’ve ever had on an immersion trip.  A lot of times you go to a place where there’s a lot of poverty and people marvel at how simple the life is.  As I developed a relationship with Jenny, a mother of three, I came to learn in my heart that while poverty may necessitate a simple life, you can live a simple life without poverty.” 2017 Dates: January 9-16, 2017



Since 1997, parish groups, individuals and families have come to the Parish of Santisimo Sacramento (Most Blessed Sacrament) in Piura, Peru to share in the daily work for the poor and also to experience the heroic faith of the people here.  Everyday there is something valuable to do for someone who has very basic needs. 63% of Piuranos live in poverty and 22% percent live in extreme poverty (lacking their daily bread). Our large parish staff is skilled in carpentry, social work, brick laying, etc. and aided by pastoral workers throughout the parish, we can enable missionaries to do the work year round and really contribute to the well being of the most needy.

Saint Joseph's University sponsors service immersion programs in which students spend a week or more living and working in the communities they serve.