School Starts Early for Service-Minded SJU Freshmen
Monday, August 22, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (August 22, 2011) - Now in its fifth year, Saint Joseph's University's Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP) will bring nearly 100 first-year students to campus four days prior to the arrival of their peers for a pre-orientation experience that immerses them in the cultural life of the city and the Ignatian values that guide the University's mission. For five days from August 23-27, PSIP participants will be introduced to Jesuit ideals of social justice, service to those at the margin, moral and ethical discernment and intellectual inquiry.
"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. Immersing them in its culture, introducing them to the faculty that will shape their intellectual development and to the needs of our neighbors throughout the city exposes them to the transformative values that make their Saint Joseph's education unique."
The highly popular program pairs 23 upper class members - who act as coordinators and student leaders - together with the PSIP students. The small groups spend each morning working at a service site followed by an afternoon visit to a Philadelphia cultural center, which is led by a volunteer faculty member. This year, PSIP is serving 20 diverse organizations, including St. John's Hospice, Olivet Baptist Church, ARC of Philadelphia, Our Brother's Place and Sustainable Urban Development, among others. The cultural activities include visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the African American Museum, Citizens Bank Park, a Mural Arts tour and driving and walking tours of the city.
According to Nancy Fox, Ph.D., associate dean for social sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, PSIP participants also benefit from the program because they are introduced early to campus. "By the time the semester begins, the students are very comfortable on campus and have made friends with their fellow participants. We have also found that they form relationships that last throughout their college careers. But perhaps most importantly, they gain a deep understanding of Jesuit ideals, and what it means to be a person for others."
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.