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Short-term international service-learning immersions can provide accessible ways for students to experience other countries and cultures, creating the possibility for development of the whole person in a global context. These programs often involve the physical labor of students, through building houses, serving food to migrants, and the like. As Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. has observed, such service can be valued by the recipient community and for the participating student, and can challenge the mind to change. But how can such programs increase their value proposition in support of the organization’s mission? In other words, how might we employ minds as well as hands and hearts in other ways that promote justice work? This article describes an immersion program, academic course, and community-based research effort forged over a 25-year relationship between Seattle University and Esperanza, a non-governmental organization that focuses on community development, micro finance, and affordable housing in Tijuana, Mexico. Using the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, a constellation of stakeholders—faculty, staff, students, and community partners—reflect on the partnership and the enhancements to a long-standing collaborative effort. Lessons learned are offered. Ultimately, we conclude that long-term reciprocal benefits can be achieved while also inviting participants to deepen their aspirations for social change in a global context.



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