Aidlink’s Immersion Programme is a form of experiential development education which sees students from the so-called developed world ‘immersed’ in the culture and day–to-day life of host communities in the developing world. The hosts are partner schools, congregations and NGOs who facilitate and support the visit.
“Development education is a lifelong educational process which aims to increase public awareness and understanding ofthe rapidly changing, interdependent and unequal world in which we live. By challenging stereotypes and encouraging independent thinking, development education helps people to critically explore how global justice issues interlink with their everyday lives. Informed and engaged citizens are best placed to address complex social, economic and environmental issues linked to development. Development education empowers people to analyse, reflect on and challenge at a local and global level, the root causes and consequences of global hunger, poverty, injustice, inequality and climate change; presenting multiple perspectives on global justice issues.” Irish Aid (2017)
Students are afforded the opportunity to share and partake in the daily lives of their host community and attend school with their peers. Centered around the daily school experience, students are engaged in a development education experience which sees them gain invaluable exposure to, and an awareness of: the local culture, traditions and society and also the challenges faced by communities. It creates a space whereby the Irish students’ existing perceptions and attitudes of the developing world may be challenged. The immersion is generally up to two weeks in duration and includes; ‘students being students’ and going to school for one full week in secondary school, attending normal classes and participating in extracurricular school activities such as sport and entertainment. Students are placed in a class corresponding to their class in Ireland and attend regular class with their African peers, taught by African teachers. Students of very different cultures find common ground in the familiar classroom set up. This ‘learning by doing’ creates an awareness of the local culture, traditions and society and also the challenges faced by communities.
Over 550 students have participated in Aidlink’s Immersion Programme and in the case of Aidlink’s longest running immersion school partnership, reciprocal immersion visits now take place, with staff and students from our Ghanaian partner school travelling biennially to Ireland.
I learned that just because the world is made to suit you, that doesn’t mean it is right. Participant of Aidlink-Loreto High School Beaufort Uganda Immersion 2018