Rebuilding the Gulf, Responding to the Gospel
The NOLA Immersion is a service-immersion program sponsored by Campus Ministry at Providence College. The NOLA Immersion is both a general response to the Gospel call to do justice and a specific response to the reality of post-Katrina New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). The NOLA Immersion has at its core a commitment to the dignity of the human person, lived out by accompanying our neighbors in the journey toward justice.
The purpose of the NOLA Immersion is to cultivate, through active service and the lens of faith, a sense of solidarity with women and men living on the margins. In that same spirit of solidarity, participants live simply and in community together, with prayer and reflection central to the experience. The NOLA Immersion seeks participants with a diversity of spiritual backgrounds and welcomes applications from individuals of all religions.
While the service-immersion experience in New Orleans takes place each year during Winter Break, the pre-immersion process begins almost a year prior to that time. In April, fourteen students are selected as the NOLA Team for the coming academic year. The NOLA Team meets each week during Fall Semester to get to know each other, to learn about New Orleans and the purpose of the NOLA Immersion program, and to solidify the itinerary for the service-immersion over Winter Break. In October, the NOLA Team organizes the annual NOLA Meal Auction to raise funds and foster community at PC. There is an overnight retreat for all trip participants in November.
During the last week of Winter Break, the NOLA Team travels to New Orleans to serve the community and understand the day-to-day realities of local residents, neighborhoods, and community groups. Immersion into the community’s culture, music, food, faith, and stories is crucial in the development of this understanding. The group partners with organizations such as the St. Bernard Project, the Harry Tompson Center, Greenlight New Orleans, and the Lower Ninth Ward Village. The NOLA Immersion includes a critical analysis of the structures (both just and unjust) which impact the rebuilding effort. This requires engaging in difficult questions: Who is benefiting from the way things are? Who is suffering? What is my relationship to these individuals and groups? How does my faith call me to respond?
Returning to campus, the NOLA Team meets at least three times, and participants are encouraged to continue living the mission of the program and to find ways to facilitate social change within the PC community. In collaboration with BOP, the NOLA Team plans the annual NOLA Mardi Gras Celebration as a way to educate the PC community about current issues in New Orleans and to celebrate the unique culture of NOLA.
The application process for the 2014-2015 NOLA Immersion is now open! Applications are available for current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and can be downloaded here. The selection process for the NOLA Immersion takes place shortly thereafter and applicants will be notified on Tuesday, April 22.
The cost of the NOLA Immersion is generally $200 per participant. This includes all transportation and accommodations and most of the food during the NOLA Immersion process. Proceeds from the NOLA Meal Auction, along with donor funds and individual fundraising efforts, lower the overall cost for each participant.
Questions about the NOLA Immersion?
Questions about the NOLA Immersion should be addressed to Bob Pfunder, Campus Minister, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401.865.1770.