International Service-Immersion Experiences

The international service-immersion program is currently on hiatus due to COVID-19

Migration in El Salvador, Mexico and the USA (Kino Border Initiative and El Salvador)

Cost: $2,400

This immersion focuses on exploring migration from all sides; intending to humanize the immigration issue and to recognize its complexity, while emphasizing accompaniment of people on their journey.   We will begin the trip in El Salvador, with CRISPAZ where we will learn about the root causes of migration – from the history of the Salvadoran Civil War to the contemporary realities of the country.  Our time in El Salvador will include visits to the sites where Saint Oscar Romero and the Jesuit Martyrs were assassinated, speaking with Salvadorans who have been deported from the US, and a homestay in a rural community. 

From there, we will fly to Arizona where we will partner with the Kino Border Initiative to explore the realities of migration on the US-Mexico Border. Our time with KBI will focus on exploring immigration from all sides.  We will spend our time doing everything from working in a dining room for recently deported migrants in Mexico, to witnessing deportation hearings as a part of Operation Streamline in Tucson, to meeting with Border Patrol agents, to meeting with an asylum seeker, to speaking with ranchers, to hiking in the desert near the trails where migrants pass, to visiting a women’s shelter for migrants in Mexico, to learning more about the immigration system.

This immersion experience is designed to foster solidarity among those who are affected by the consequences of U.S. and Mexican migration and border policies.  Spanish language ability is an asset on this immersion, but not required.  For more information, see: or

‘Dzielo Pomocy Dzieciom’ (Help for Children) Summer Camp in Poland 
Cost: $2,200

Join us as we continue to strengthen our 12+ year-long partnership with ‘Dzielo Pomocy Dzieciom’ (Help for Children). This privately owned and operated Children’s Home for abandoned, abused and or neglected children, was established by Kasia and Janik Mader over 30 years ago as an alternative to governmentally run orphanage institutions. Kasia and Janiks’ main goal was to create a nurturing home-like environment where children who have experienced trauma could go and gradually learn to feel safe, loved and respected. 

During the summer months, Zmiaca becomes a home for 60-100 foster children between the ages of 2-18. Each year, Canisius students have the opportunity to support the Mader family’s mission by stepping into the role of ‘Ciocia’ (aunt) or ‘Vuyek’ (uncle) for one session of their annual summer camp. As a ‘Ciocia’ or ‘Vuyek,’ you will be assigned to a group aka “family” of 2-4 children that you will be responsible for 24/7 for the entire three weeks. This includes eating, sleeping, and playing with your children, sometimes without the help of another English speaker. (The children and most volunteers speak Polish and little to no English. To bridge these gap, participants are required to practice basic Polish in the months prior to departing.)  Though this seems like a daunting task it is designed to ensure that all children receive the essential one-on-one attention that they need but normally do not receive in foster homes. Other daily events that we will help to facilitate include morning English lessons (pre-planned by the Canisius Team), hikes, soccer games, crafts, board games, and evening song performances (pre-planned by the Canisius Team).

This immersion is one of our most challenging service opportunities due to the necessary preparation process, difficult language barrier, and endless physical and emotional energy it requires. During this immersion, you will be filled up with awe and gratitude in one moment and broken down by harsh realities in the next. To succeed you must be flexible, resilient, patient, ready to jump out of your comfort zone and ready to receive more than you can give!!!  These children will capture your heart, so get ready to fall in love!

Differently-abled Children with Mustard Seed Communities in Jamaica
Cost: $1,800

**Please note that seniors are not eligible for this trip as we depart on graduation day**

Spend one week with Mustard Seed, an intentional Christian community for young residents who are differently abled.  We will be in the northern half of Jamaica, near Montego Bay, living with and helping out the kids in their daily routines in a residential home called “Blessed Assurance.”  Most of the children are between 3-15 years old and have a variety of disabilities, from autism to cerebral palsy to downs syndrome to a variety of other afflictions. 

We will sing, dance, play, feed, and care for the residents and also help with projects such as painting, construction, and landscaping, and provide- most importantly- the gift of presence!  Mustard Seed is a faith-based organization and so there will be a lot of time dedicated to praying and singing with the children as well.  This immersion experience is designed to challenge our students to go beyond their comfort zones.  Many of the children we will be working with have severe disabilities and are non-verbal or wheelchair bound.  But don’t underestimate the bonds you can build with them during this experience!  For more information about Mustard Seed, check out the website here: