November 18, 2014 - 3:58pm -- delp.4

On September 18-21, seven teens and two adult leaders participated in the Urban Immersion experience in Washington DC. The Urban Immersion Project (UIP) is a new initiative that combines cross-cultural learning, team work, and service learning in an urban environment.

The Urban Immersion Project (UIP) is a new initiative that combines cross-cultural learning, team work, and service learning in an urban environment.  This project included a 4-day service learning experience that built skills and abilities that will help prepare youth for success in the workforce.  It also built capacity for a broader understanding of cultural and racial differences in people who live in an urban environment.  Participants lived in the NW part of the city and were provided opportunities to serve in a variety of low income neighborhoods.  Youth also learned about the realities and challenges for adults and families who struggle with homelessness and/or live in poverty.    

Service projects included a day at “A Wider Circle,” a nonprofit organization with programs address the needs of adults and children challenged by homelessness, poverty, and substance abuse.  Youth participated in the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program, A Wider Circle’s largest program which provides beds, dressers, tables, chairs, dishes, pots, pans, and other large and small home goods to families transitioning out of shelters, escaping domestic violence, or otherwise living without these basic need items.  Youth helped to sort and supply the warehouse shelves so that families could come in and select the items they needed. 

The National Coalition for the Homeless invited 3 speakers who were formerly homeless to join us for dinner one evening. They shared their story of how they became homeless and helped to dispel some of the myths about homelessness.  Youth asked questions and engaged in dialogue with the speakers.  

Teens became familiar with a city map, asking for directions, and the metro system as they completed a team scavenger hunt around the city.  On the final evening of the experience, the group dined at the Ethiopian restaurant in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.   

This Urban Immersion Experience is scheduled to be repeated in the fall of 2015.  If you are interested in learning more, contact the Extension office.