Rollins College Center for Leadership & Community Engagement offers an exciting alternative for students wishing to engage directly with their peers and their community during their semester breaks and at various other times during the school year. The volunteers of the program are taken outside our Rollins College community and engaged by participating in activities and projects that focus on various types of issues, ranging from social to political matters. Through these experiences, the individual is allowed the opportunity to work closely with other communities beyond their own.
In the past, there have been Immersions to New York, Nashville & Abaco, Bahamas. The program began in 2008, initially organized by the faculty and staff of Rollins College. Today, though, students are given the opportunity to plan and host theses life-changing events. Raul A. Carril ’15 ’16 and Graduate Assistant at the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement at Rollins explains some of the vital responsibilities of the event host:
“Immersion Facilitators have a wide range of responsibilities. In addition to planning and leading the Immersion experience, Immersion Facilitators get to know their participants and help ‘facilitate’ the educational components, reflections, and team builders that create the incredible environments participants have come to love and expect from Immersion experiences.”
This past year, an Immersion that took place in St. Augustine focused on the issue of animal rights. There, volunteers did service on an Alligator farm, working closely with the non-profit wildlife care and community partner HAWKE. At an Immersion experience in Miami, volunteers visited with inner city kids who are apart of a counseling program that assists them in building new groundwork for their lives. Kenady Bickel ’18, reflected on her thoughts from participating in the program, having been on these two aforementioned immersion experiences:
“You are constantly pushed outside of your comfort zones, whether that be by sleeping next to someone you hardly know, coming face to face with alligators, working through sweaty situations with the sun beating down on you, or even being a bit nervous about who you are with. Immersion forces you to build trust and connections while learning about others, but also while learning a lot about yourself. It has benefited me immensely just in the short time since I’ve been back from my experiences. It has changed my perspective in every day situations and has allowed me to see through eyes other than my own. It was wonderful to learn, experience, and to truly be immersed in situations that are so different from my small area of the world.”
Carril reflects on the importance of programs such as Immersion: “Citizens Take Action is truly a campus initiative. Immersion works with students across A&S, Holt, and Crummer schools, faculty, staff, alumni, and Board of Trustee members to create these enriching and diverse experiences. From Alumni Relations to ResLife to Student Success to the Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement to Community Standards and Responsibility the Immersion program is truly a cross-campus collaborative effort. Along with our terrific and diverse group of community parents we are preparing students to be our community’s global citizens and responsible leaders of tomorrow.”
Stepping outside of the box allows volunteers to weld their academic experience with hands-on experiences that will reward them for years to come.Visit the Center for Leaders and Community engagement website for more information and stop by their office in the Mills Memorial Building to plan your next Immersion.