Global Opportunities

Students at the University of San Diego have the unique opportunity to be involved in changemaking locally, nationally, and abroad. Organizations across campus offer students a variety of immersion trips and global opportunities to practice their changemaking, ranging from San Diego to Mexico, from New Orleans to South Africa, and from Jamaica to El Salvador. Read more about each opportunity below, and learn how to get involved and take changemaking to a new level.

Chiapas Immersion

Extending Border Immersion beyond the border region is an important step as Community, Awareness, and Social Action (CASA) continues to deepen ties within Mexico. USD's Students for Fair Trade has been an important driver of this work through a partnership with Maya Vinic, a Coffee Co-op in the southern most state of Chiapas. An immersion trip to Chiapas to engage with members of the co-op and learn about life in that region plays an important role in understanding push factors that lead Mexicans to migrate to the border region and eventually the United States. CASA hopes to expand and deepen the Chiapas immersion experience for students beyond the Fair Trade initiative.

El Salvador Immersion

This 12-day immersion experience during January's intersession is a unique and incredibly powerful opportunity learn with and from the people of El Salvador. Grounded in the four core values of solidarity, social justice, simplicity, and spirituality, the immersion experience includes meetings with a variety of non-governmental organizations and faith-based social service agencies in the capital, as well as an extended homestay in a rural community. Participants learn about the country's history—especially the 12-year civil war that ended in 1992, and the role of Archbishop Oscar Romero and other Church members in promoting peace and justice—as well as the current reality of the country. People of all faith traditions are welcome, as are both graduate and undergraduate students.



The Jamaica program was created in 2005, originally developed as a study abroad program with an interdisciplinary curriculum with a strong community engagement component. The community engagement element involved the establishment of formal partnership with local community agencies and built-in opportunities for informal student exchanges with local community members. Service in the traditional sense is an effective tool in connecting students studying abroad to the communities in which they are located. Additionally, we very deliberately created the space for structured, but less task-oriented, casual encounters and conversations to occur. These opportunities are equally (if not more) valuable in encouraging students to immerse themselves in local Jamaican culture. The end result was a Jamaica study abroad program designed to achieve four goals.


First, it seeks to provide students with an overview of Caribbean society and culture from the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the present. Second, our program asks students to consider the impact European colonization has had on shaping Jamaican society. Third, through meaningful interaction with Jamaican community members, students experience the day-to-day lives of people who live and work in a region with an identity that is inextricably tied to its colonial past and a contemporary dependence upon American and European tourism and trade. Finally, the program seeks to have students gain an understanding of the mechanisms through which a cultural identity of resistance and immodest independence can be forged in spite of ideological and economic systems that continue to promote dichotomous and unequal master/servant society.

For more information, please contact CASA's John Loggins at

New Orleans

New Orleans

The University of San Diego (USD)'s Center for Community, Awareness, and Social Action (CASA) started bringing students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community leaders to New Orleans in 2009 shortly after the Duchesne House for Volunteers opened its doors. The Duchesne House was founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ), the same community that co-founded USD. After an initial invitation to learn about the work of the house, a small team of USD students and staff travelled to New Orleans and Bayou Road in 2009 to meet with the RSCJ Community. From the very beginning the concept of the immersive experience did not focus on building any physical structures, rather emphasis was placed on relationships and connecting with community. Understanding that every community is rich and filled with dynamic practitioners and educators for social justice, it is critical to look beyond the ivory tower and consider how community members as professors of practice hold wisdom and can be engaged in ways that build awareness, deepen knowledge, and recognize community-based wisdom. Since 2009, USD has brought over 90 students, faculty, staff, and community member to New Orleans to learn from our friends and partners in the Crescent City. To read more about the NOLA experience, check out the USD News Center.

For more information, please contact CASA's Chris Nayve at

Nogales Immersion

In Spring 2014, Community, Awareness, and Social Action (CASA) expanded Border Immersion to include the Nogales Sonora/Arizona community. Through a partnership with Outdoor Adventures, students embark on an Alternative Spring Break experience that includes a road trip to and from Nogales, as well as a three-day immersion in Nogales, Sonora. The overnight stay allows for deeper engagement in a community that experiences similar challenges and opportunities to the San Diego/Tijuana region.

South Africa

South Africa

The South Africa immersion trip provides an opportunity for USD students to live in the village of Makuleke and to collaborate with our community partners on issues related to education and development. USD students will learn about South African politics and culture, as well as what it is like to operate a non-profit organization in rural South Africa. The core of the experience, however, is based on the relationship we have with the non-profit Sharing to Learn and a group of South African secondary students who call themselves "the Equalizers." This group of young people is dedicated to improving their educational opportunities. Much of the time in Makuleke is spent getting to know the Equalizers and learning directly from them the opportunities and challenges in their village. Each year, the USD students and the Equalizers participate in a Youth Leadership Workshop, which provides activities to enhance the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to be leaders and to be active, responsible citizens. The Workshop is a transformative experience for both the USD students and the Equalizers.

For more information, please contact Changemaker's Dr. Mike Williams at

Tijuana/San Diego Border Immersion

Community, Awareness, and Social Action's (CASA) Border Immersion Program has significantly deepened its presence in the San Diego/Tijuana community. One-day immersion experiences in both San Diego and Tijuana continue to be a practical way to expose students, faculty, and staff to the border region. These experiences take participants on an immersive journey through which social, political and economic issues unique to the region are seen at play. Learning and growth result from engaging with individuals who have experienced the challenges and opportunities of life along the fence. Common themes that arise when joining the border community include: immigration and the migrant journey, living undocumented lives, self identity in the border region, economic disparity, social inequalities, discrimination and privilege, and the impact of border-related policy.

For more information, please contact CASA's Maria Silva at

Tijuana Day Trips Play Video
Tijuana Day Trips
Once a month, we spend a Saturday with the people of La Morita, one of the poorest and fastest growing neighborhoods in Tijuana.
Tijuana Spring Breakthrough Play Video
Tijuana Spring Breakthrough
See the world with new eyes! Offered during spring recess, Tijuana Spring Breakthrough (TJSB) is an incredible opportunity to grow in faith and solidarity while exploring the reality of life just beyond the U.S./Mexico border.