Newsletter Subscribe
Australian Catholics Subscribe

A just immersion

Anna Watt |  31 May 2016

Ensuring our interactions with communities in need are positive ones.

How much of what we do is really for others? Is our main drive to satisfy peoples’ needs, or do we sometimes help others to make ourselves feel good? Caritas Australia's Education Team has been working on this issue directly, focusing on school immersion trips and their impact on disadvantaged communities.

While overseas immersion programs can be ‘life-changing’ experiences to the traveller, they sometimes become more of a poverty-safari than a working relationship between communities.

Caritas’ new JUST VISITING? resource has been put in place to ensure that immersion experiences result in a beneficial and enduring impact.

The resource consists of filmed and written interviews with Sister Len, who works in a Caritas-supported program in Cambodia, and the Caritas Australia programs coordinator, Kath Rosic. The model is a free and printable online resource that includes editorial cartoons and links to related material.

Caritas employee Melissa Murga spent months developing the resource.

‘The resource came about after years of thinking about how we can best support Catholic schools in their immersion programs’, she says.

The immersion model is founded upon four core principles of Catholic Social Teaching: The Dignity of the Human Person, The Common Good, Solidarity, and Subsidiarity.

‘The title of the resource alludes to the questions: “Are your visits just? Are your visits mutually beneficial? Are you invited or imposing? Are you visiting or learning or giving or receiving? No one has a 100% correct way of conducting immersions, just as there is no silver bullet to ending poverty… but we believe that as people of faith, we cannot grade ourselves on a more lenient curve just because of good intentions. We have to engage in the complex reality.’

Michael Wright, social justice coordinator at St Ignatius’ College in Geelong, has adopted the new resource in the lead up to the college’s immersion trip to East Timor in June this year.

‘T. S. Eliot wrote in his poem, Four Quartets, the profoundly sad line, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning”. We find that through reflection and daily journalling students are better able to understand the meaning behind what we do.

‘Our students offer the skills that they posses, conversational English, friendship and their time. In return we ask for nothing other than acceptance of who we are and an invitation to learn from one another.’

Caritas Australia Education Team is offering professional development sessions for teachers that unpack the themes and tools in JUST VISITING? Contact education@caritas.org.au for more information.

 

Anna Watt is a member of our young writers community.

 

 

Topic tags: socialjustice–australia, socialjustice–global, catholicsocialteaching, volunteeringandtakingaction

Request permissions to reuse this article


Comments

Submitted feedback is moderated. Please read our comments policy. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Similar articles

Online exclusive: The iron nun

Clare Deignan | 18 Aug 2016

Sister Madonna Buder never runs a race alone. She has competed in more than 360 triathlons, 45 Ironman competitions and more marathons than she can remember. The sister from the USA says she just does her best and lets God carry her the rest of the way.


Popping the bubble: Waking up to climate change

Clare Deignan | 01 Jun 2016


Last year Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for our common home) and placed protecting the planet and its people as a top priority of Catholic social teaching. Catholic Earthcare Australia, the ecological agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference founded in 2002, applauded the Pope’s work. To aid his efforts, Catholic Earthcare recently created a workshop to engage youth with Laudato Si’ and inspire them to take action. Tess Corkish is the Youth Engagement Officer at Catholic Earthcare and leads the Laudato Si’ youth workshops.


Finding a new path

Robert Fedele | 01 Jun 2016

A unique education course offered by Australian Catholic University is helping disadvantaged people from across the country reclaim their lives.


Under an orange sky

Beth Doherty | 01 Jun 2016

The 2016 Young Australians of the Year – Nick Marchesi and Lucas Patchett – first became passionate about social justice when they were students at St Joseph’s College in Brisbane. With the Orange Sky Laundry, they have found a way to make a real difference in the lives of homeless Australians.


AC Classroom: Dreaming of a different future

Kate Mani | 01 Jun 2016

What do you do when a program you believe in is threatened with closure?


Newsletter Subscribe
ACBC social justice