As most students are quick to click “delete” on anything Immersion in their email inbox, Perry highlights her awesome experiences on the life-changing trip.
If you are a Rollins student you have more than likely found a message with this subject in your email at one point or another. These emails are filled with offers, each asking students to apply for experiences known as Immersions. After two years of scrolling past these emails I finally began to get curious and ended up applying for an experience called “Crisis in a Community,” an Immersion that would take twelve participants all the way to the state of Colorado to discover how recent wildfires have impacted the community.
To my surprise, I received an email a week after submitting my application notifying me that I had been chosen as a participant. I began to prepare for the trip, attending a pre-trip meeting that allowed me to meet my fellow participants, and soon enough backs were thrown into the JUMP bus and we were off to the Orlando Airport. While on the Immersion we interacted with the community on a personal level, meeting with panels and doing days of service work. We moved through three hotels, planted two hundred trees, met with panels, and talked with grieving fire victims who had lost their homes. By the time our plane touched back down in Orlando I had forged strong relationships with my fellow participants and developed a better understanding of what it meant to be part of a community. Are you ready to go on an Immersion yet?
The process starts in the Office of Community Engagement, which houses a wonderful staff of both students and faculty all in charge of creating these experiences. The Immersion program was introduced to Rollins in 2007 and has boomed in popularity. The program has increased the amount of experiences in addition to the number of students who participate each year. No two Immersions are the same and students are offered a wide variety of experiences that will help them grow as global citizens and motivate them to take on leadership roles within their own community. Last year alone groups of students were sent to Tennessee, Virginia, Colorado, and various parts of Florida to perform service and learn about communities and problem issues. Rollins now sponsors a record twenty-five trips per semester.
When it comes to the Immersion application, the process is incredibly simple. Three members of the Immersion Planning Team, Raul Carril, Courtney Banker, and Michaela O’Driscoll, spoke to me about how best to approach the application in order to show that you are truly invested in the experience. The selection process is blind, wiping the name of the applicants from their applications when they are being decided upon. This means that applicants will be chosen on their answers alone. Avoid jotting down a few sentences or sending in messy applications ten seconds before they are due. Put time into your answers to show that you are genuinely interested and you are more likely to be chosen.
For those of you who did not jump on the bandwagon yet, don’t worry. Three more Immersions depart this semester, two are open to the general student body while one is reserved for first years. “Hot and Sweaty in the Swamp” is a first year experience where new students journey to the Everglades for a week of service and education. Immersions that are open to the general student body include “Drop It Like It’s Hot: Art Education and Action” which will be during Fall Break and a November Immersion focusing on veterans and homelessness.
So next time you are cruising through your Rollins email during class and spot the word Immersion do yourself a favor; take the time and apply. Immersions have been an incredible and unique part of my experience at Rollins and applying is just your first step.