Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

From visiting Holocaust sites in Europe to a cloud forest community in Ecuador, StFX students poised to commence Immersion Service Learning experiences

February 13th, 2020
StFX students Megan Dobbin and Lauren MacQuarrie from last year's Immersion Service Learning trip to Ecuador

A group of StFX students and immersion leaders are poised to commence Immersion Service Learning placements that range from visiting important WWII and Holocaust sites in Europe to working in a cloud forest community in Ecuador.

Twenty eight students will travel over the February Reading Week break to Poland and Germany, Ecuador, and Peru while a further 20 students will travel to Belize, L’Arche Ottawa and Europe in late April or May. 

StFX Service Learning has facilitated immersion experiences for the past 25 years, providing students with opportunities to grow as global citizens. Immersion connects academic theory with real world experience through hands-on learning alongside different cultural communities in national and international locations. 

Fourth year biology student Emma Dwyer will take part in the Peru experience where participants will journey into the Andes to work with Nexos Comunitarios, a non-profit organization working with isolated communities, building human and social capital to achieve sustainable solutions. 

“I am most looking forward to learning about the culture in Peru and the community's history. I am excited to work with the children there and hopefully make fast friends with the community. I am also extremely excited to visit the world heritage site, Machu Picchu.” 

This is Ms. Dwyer’s third Immersion Service Learning trip. She participated in the Belize trip in her second year and the Germany and Poland experience in her third year.

“I am a science student, but I am also very interested in global history, culture and language. Service Learning has given me the opportunity to learn about these things in the real world outside of my degree here at StFX. Even as a science student, I have been able to apply my Immersion Service Learning experiences to many of my classes,” she says. 

“I feel this program has made me a better student and a better global citizen. I believe that it is important to learn about the world and the best way to do it is through immersion learning.”


“As a development studies professor, and someone passionate about equitable and sustainable development, I’m very excited to take StFX students to Ecuador this year,” says StFX development studies professor Dr. Kim Burnett, Immersion leader for the group that will travel to the Ecuadorian cloud forest.  

“Students will get to see firsthand the rich insights and knowledge located within communities in the Global South to advance sustainable and equitable development. Our trip will expose students to many important development projects, including integrated agricultural production systems that rely on local agricultural knowledge and sustainable production methods, the impacts of eco-tourism on rural communities, and to the intricacies of the natural environment in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest, and the importance of biodiversity to thriving ecosystems. 

“I’m most excited for the fact that most of the students who I will be travelling with do not come from development studies. I’m excited to witness their experiences in the Global South, and the things they learn about the complexities of development and the centrality of empowering communities in developing countries to generate social, economic and ecological change. And for the students I’ve worked with from development studies, I feel fortunate to be a part of their own educational growth as they experience the “realities” of development for the first time. I know this experience will be transformative for all the students involved, and for me as well.” 

Additionally, Immersion Service Learning experiences will see students bearing witness to history in Germany and Poland; learning about natural resources and community development in Belize; and in Ottawa, joining a bilingual L’Arche community, sharing daily life and activities with developmentally disabled adults.

Also this May, a group of StFX students will be joined by students from the Maple League schools, to participate in the three credit course “the Holocaust and Now.” Students will spend an immersive two weeks in Germany, Poland and Prague participating in unique immersive learning experiences. 

For more information on Service Learning, please visit the website


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