SJU Freshmen Immerse Themselves in Service and the City
Monday, August 20, 2012
PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 20, 2012) - One hundred-plus first-year students from the Class of 2016 arrived at Saint Joseph’s four days earlier than their classmates to participate in the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP). Now in its sixth year, PSIP gives these students an optional pre-orientation experience that will set the tenor for their four years as Saint Joseph’s students.
From August 21 through August 25, participants spend the mornings at a variety of community sites where they are introduced to the transformative Ignatian values of social justice, service to those at the margin, moral discernment and intellectual inquiry. In the afternoons they are introduced to Philadelphia – its history, culture and neighborhoods – when they visit an array of cultural institutions, guided by SJU faculty members.
"St. Ignatius and the early companions began their mission in the cities, and PSIP is a natural extension of that rich tradition," says Daniel Joyce, S.J., assistant to the vice president of Mission and Identity. "The City of Philadelphia figures prominently in the lives of our students, and immersing them in its culture, acquainting them with the faculty who will shape their intellectual development, and introducing them to the needs of our neighbors throughout the city, exposes them to the values that make their Saint Joseph's education unique."
This year, students are serving at 20 diverse agencies that range from community organizations and homeless shelters to Philadelphia schools and urban gardens, including Lutheran Settlement House, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, Saint John’s Hospice, St. Rose of Lima School, and Sustainable Urban Development.
“A great strength of PSIP is that our students come to know a neighborhood community in Philadelphia and really connect with the people there,” says Fr. Joyce. “Many will continue to serve in that community for the next four years, building relationships that transform.”
Cultural activities, led by individual faculty members, include visits to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Eastern State Penitentiary, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and walking tours of the historic district and Chinatown.
During PSIP, students are paired with 23 upper class members who act as coordinators and student leaders. Another advantage of the program is social in nature. By the time the semester starts, the students are familiar with campus and have bonded with fellow participants, forming friendships that last throughout their time at SJU.
PSIP is a collaborative program that draws support from several institutional offices and resource areas, including Academic Affairs, the Office of Mission and Identity, Campus Ministry, the Faith-Justice Institute and the Office of Student Life.