Experience Immersion


Immersions are a valuable way to learn from and immerse yourself in diverse communities. These three-day to three-week experiences provide students with a hands-on, close-up view of different populations and socioeconomic issues in Oregon, Washington, other parts of the United States, and other countries. Most immersions include opportunities for direct service, and all invite students to hear diverse perspectives that can expand their understanding of critical social issues.

 The Immersion Process


  • After applying and being selected for an immersion trip you will participate in the pre-immersion preparation process. Immersion participants will join two preparation seminars in the fall semester (Fridays 4-6pm). Spring break and summer immersions will have two spring semester prep seminars, as well (Fridays 4-6pm). Additional meetings and group bonding activities will be planned by student leaders. These are intended for team building, sharing of important logistic information, and reflection on themes that will be deepened through the immersion itself. Immersion participants commit to attending all pre-immersion seminars and meetings. We understand that conflicts may arise; participants should communicate any conflicts with their student leader as soon as possible and determine how they will make up any missed seminars or meetings.

On Immersion

  • On your immersion, you will be accompanied by two student Immersion Coordinators and two University of Portland staff/faculty accompaniers, usually including one Moreau Center for Service and Justice staff. The student coordinators and Moreau Center Program Manager for Immersions will take care of the logistics for the immersion in collaboration with community partners. During the immersion, we are guests and visitors of our community partners; openness and flexibility are essential. While immersions vary in terms of activities, each will include opportunities to engage with the local community and learn about the critical issues impacting its members. We endeavor to learn the historical context of the social justice focus of the immersion as well as the strengths and solutions proposed by the community. You will also connect with the other immersion participants and share in reflection about the impact of the experience.
  • Immersions are planned with simplicity in mind, and students should expect to be flexible and adaptable to new experiences. Housing will usually be shared spaces amongst the group in locations like cabins, school gyms and churches. On most immersions, meals will be prepared by the participants and served buffet style. Most dietary needs can be accommodated. Immersions generally include time spent walking and standing as we explore neighborhoods and sometimes farms, gardens, or other off sidewalk locations. Some international destinations may not meet the ADA standards we have in the United States. We are eager to work with students and provide information so they can feel confident to participate in the immersion experience. Please reach out to us with questions and accommodation needs. If you have disability related access needs, please reach out to Melanie Gangle in Accessible Education Services at gangle@up.edu. For immersion specific questions, please reach out to the Tyler Wagner in the Moreau Center for Service and Justice at wagnert@up.edu

Reentry and What’s Next or Integration

  • While the actual immersion trip has a start and end date, the full experience is a journey that is never truly over. More than an end goal, we believe that the immersion itself is a starting point for ongoing reflection and critical engagement of the realities of our local and global community. For this reason, participants commit to meeting at least once upon return from the trip to continue processing, sharing stories, and determining next steps toward connecting the immersion experience to life at the University of Portland and beyond. Your Immersion Coordinators, Immersion accompaniers, and other Moreau Center staff members are here as a resource to assist as you draw meaning from the immersion experience and explore ways to integrate it into your personal and academic life

“All this used to be a section of a textbook that was glazed over within a whitewashed curriculum, but to stand where they stood, on the pavement where blood was spilled and slaves walked in chains, in the air that filled and escaped their lungs, we are changed. We understand more about what matters and what still needs to be done, and we feel the scars of what they felt. I have gained a sense of courage through them and for them, and I am confident that this feeling will keep burning in me as I find my feet planted in Portland once again.”

--Hannah Schoen '17, Civil Rights Immersion participant, May 2016 


Browse through the possibilities and contact Program Manager for Immersions, Tyler Wagner, or the student immersion coordinators for more information.

students with kids during Nicaragua Immersion