Summer Immersion

This past summer, the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program kicked off its first annual Summer Service Immersion in the Homestead-Miami region. Students took a 1-credit once-a-week course for six weeks at the end of the spring semester and then spent a full week immersed in farm worker issues/immigration issues in South Florida. Five students opted-in to staying six more week working with Mexican-American Council in Homestead. The five students, with program assistant, mentored high school students in preparing them for life beyond high school, with the aim of inspiring them to dream big.

Activities for the first week include:

  • Talk to farm workers and learn about issues they face
  • Get to know the work of the Mexican American Council and get a tour of Homestead, FL
  • Learn about Cuban influence in Miami through immersion of Calle Ocho and readings
  • Learn about operation Pedro Pan at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora
  • Talk to a Pedro Pan child
  • Chat with esteemed Univision journalist Jorge Ramos
  • Talk to high school and elementary-age students at Miami Community Charter Schools about college
  • Learn about Miami’s Wynwood art distrcit
  • Watch In The Heights
  • Cool off at Oleta State Park beach
  • Reflect daily
  • Eat arepa, bistec, ceviche, maduro, tacos, etc.
  • Drink cuban coffee, jugo de mora, homemade pineapple-cucumber juice, etc.

Activities for the next six weeks include:

  • Work Monday through Thursday mentoring high schoolers at MAC’s College Career Prep program
  • Teach students about how to:
    • apply for scholarships
    • apply for a credit card and maintain a good credit score
    • apply for fly-in programs
    • apply for study abroad programs
    • schedule college classes
    • send a professional email
    • maintain a budget
    • use breathing exercises to destress
  • Host Notre Dame takeover day:
    • gave the high schoolers a virtual tour of Notre Dame
    • led ice breakers
    • brought two Balfour alum to talk about their experience as first-generation/undocumented college students
    • had a Q & A about the basics of college life
    • held a competition with ND-themed prizes
  • Assist MAC:
    • distributed breakfast and lunch
    • helped with clean-up
    • participated in field trips to the Everglades Refuge, the University of Florida’s Horticultural Center, and an Inter Miami game
    • got students to open up and share their stories
    • inspired students to pursue a higher education and to dream bigger dreams
  • On the weekends:
    • reflected weekly with every student leading one reflection
    • worked on final projects
    • explored Miami-Dade County beaches, restaurants, parks, nightlife
    • took a trip to the Florida Keys which included parasailing, kayaking, jet skiing