Moreau Center adds immersions to Peru and Columbia River Gorge

Applications for fall break immersions close Sept. 22

By Carlos Fuentes | September 9, 2019 2:11pm

Immersion participants spot a giraffe while on safari in Tanzania.

Media Credit: Paula Ortiz Cazaubon / The Beacon

As students return to campus after a summer away from school, coordinators at the Moreau Center are staying busy, planning eight immersions for the 2019-20 school year, including two new programs. Applications for the fall break immersions are due Sept. 22, and applications for all other immersions after fall break are due Oct. 6. 

The Moreau Center has coordinated immersion programs for years, with the hopes of giving students hands-on experience by traveling to locations where they can be immersed in communities unlike any found at UP. Programs range from a Border Immersion at the U.S. and Mexico Border to an Urban Immersion in downtown Portland, with each one focusing on different communities and cultures. 

“I think that the immersions are valuable for several reasons,” said Program Manager of the Immersion Program Tyler Wagner. “Giving students that opportunity to finally go beyond the classroom and see the sort of issues and cultures that exist outside of our campus is something that every person can truly gain something from.”

Programs aim to give students new experiences in different ways. The Border immersion focuses on issues like human rights and immigration, while the Tanzania immersion is centered primarily on experiencing another culture. 

Part of the southwestern Mexican border splits the town of Nogales, Arizona.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Two new immersions to UP this year are a social justice immersion in Peru and an environmental justice immersion near Portland. Applications for both of these programs are due Oct. 6. 

Wagner was inspired for the Peru immersion by one of the 2018 Opus Prize finalists, Yancana Huasy, an organization that works with disabled children. After the end of the spring semester, students will travel to Lima and live alongside this group for multiple weeks and will have the opportunity to learn more about the work that goes into running the organization.

Student coordinators for the Peru immersion, junior Andre Jaurigui and senior Paula Ortiz Cazaubon, are excited to share this opportunity with other UP students. Ortiz Cazaubon has been on the Border and Tanzania immersions, and Jaurigui went on the Urban Immersion in the 2018-19 school year. They both believe that immersions at UP are great opportunities for every student.

“I think it was very important for me to experience the immersion during the Urban Immersion last year,” said Jaurigui. “I think being able to go to this very different world than the one that we live in and stretching out of my comfort zone was enlightening.”

Applications for the Peru program are due Oct. 6 and can be found here

The other new immersion program this year is the Environmental Justice Immersion. This program is planned for spring break of 2020 and will take place in Portland and the Columbia River Gorge. The focus will be on environmental issues like clean air, clean water and climate change effects in Portland. Students will learn from experts and will have a chance to meet and talk with local leaders.

An immersion participant jumps rope with another college student in Tanzania.

by Paula Ortiz Cazaubon / The Beacon

The Environmental Justice Immersion will allow for students to learn more about the issues they might be studying in classes, specifically in majors like environmental science or environmental ethics and policy. For others, the program will provide an opportunity to explore something unfamiliar in an interactive and engaging way. 

The student coordinators for this program are junior Meg Bender and senior Brittany D'Souza. They both encourage any student interested to apply. 

“Just do it,” said Bender. “As a world citizen, it’s our role to be involved and explore new ideas and if you’re being offered a chance to have such an amazing opportunity, why would you waste it?”

Students on the Civil Rights Immersion in North Portland pose for a picture. Photo courtesy of Tyler Wagner.

UP students can apply for every immersion, regardless of year or major. Immersions give  students a chance to gain valuable experiences outside of classrooms. Living in a community with other cultures or learning about real world issues allows students to gain new perspectives outside of the bubble of The Bluff. 

For students who don't want to travel too far from The Bluff, the Moreau Centers also offers immersions in nearby communities like North Portland, the Yakima Valley and downtown Portland. 

Check out the full list of immersions:

Carlos Fuentes is a reporter for the Beacon. He can be reached at