Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

New Orleans Iggy Vols immerse in community

Last year's New Orleans Urban Immersion service group poses in Congo Square in Spring 2016. The Urban Immersion trip is a branch of Ignacio Volunteers that focuses on local community service. (Courtesy of Heather Malveaux)

Last year's New Orleans Urban Immersion service group poses in Congo Square in Spring 2016. The Urban Immersion trip is a branch of Ignacio Volunteers that focuses on local community service. (Courtesy of Heather Malveaux)

Jessamyn Reichmann

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As spring break begins, the 7-month wait will finally end for Loyola’s New Orleans Ignacio Volunteers.

The Ignacio Volunteer program, nicknamed Iggy Vols, is an international and domestic service immersion opportunity that serves the communities of South Africa, Jamaica and our own backyard, the state of Louisiana.

Each year, the three trips recruit students to travel, serve and experience these places in an authentic way. The volunteers base their experience on the Ignatian idea of finding God in all things and immerse themselves in new cultures through service.

The first group to embark on their experience is the New Orleans Urban Immersion. Over the 10-day spring break, 12 students will spend their time examining the inequalities that lay underneath New Orleans’ tourism-driven culture.

The participants will be exposed to the gradation of privilege and oppression in the Crescent City in the areas of race, gender, class and location.

Jonathan LeBeau, sociology pre-med sophomore, will be one of the two group leaders on the New Orleans trip.

“New Orleans is extremely socially complex, and the benefit of this trip is that you escape this Uptown bubble. You go beyond just Uptown and the French Quarter and experience the true essence of New Orleans. It’s great exposure,” LeBeau said.

LeBeau believes that a community also emerges on the Urban Immersion trip. During their 10-day excursion, the Ignacio Volunteers give up their cell phones and learn to bond with their team members through shared activities like service, cooking meals together and playing card games.

Nydia Araya, psychology senior, will be the other group leader for the trip. Having experienced the program before, Araya said she is excited to lead this time around.

“I felt that, as a New Orleans native and a woman of color, it was important that I educate myself on these issues so that I could be an active advocate [leader] in my community,” Araya said.

Despite the Urban Immersion week taking on a more academic and informational tone, the trip will emphasize the personal growth of each participant.

Heather Malveaux, Ignacio Volunteers coordinator, described how students are transformed by what they learn.

“Entering into the program, people don’t see what’s right in front of their face, especially racism,” Malveax said. “Not only do we examine racism through the lens of the criminal justice system and the history of pre- and post-Katrina, we internalize the experience.”

Recruitment for next academic year’s New Orleans Urban Immersion service trip will begin in September 2017.

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Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola
New Orleans Iggy Vols immerse in community