ISL is an exciting and intense experiential learning opportunity involving travel to diverse communities in national and international locations. The program focuses on Service Learning opportunities that provide a framework for reflection on social justice and community development issues.

Guided by a StFX Immersion Leader, groups learn firsthand about culture and development issues within a unique community context. While immersed in a locale, students may participate in service with community organizations, visit sites of historic and political importance and, meet with and learn from community members and local community leaders.

Students can become involved in Immersion Service Learning for personal experience, integrate an experience with their course of studies through research with the permission of a professor, or as an assignment for course credit in specific classes like. BIOL 391 and DEVS 311. IDS courses for credit with a travel or virtual component may also be offered through Service Learning. IDS 305 (3 credit) is available in 2022/23.

Weeklong ISL experiences take place during second term recess in February, two-week experiences take place from the last week of April and into May. Offerings of a longer duration occur during spring and summer.

StFX was the first Canadian University to offer an Immersion Service Learning Program. Since its inception in 1996, over 1000 students have traveled to Belize, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Montreal, Peru, Poland, Romania, and L'Arche in Ottawa and Toronto.

ISL Experiences

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People posing in front of landmark
GERMANY & POLAND  -  February Break 2024
Group of people posing in front of "Ecuador" sign
ECUADOR  -  February Break 2024
3 people posing while cooking
Group of people posing on desert background
PERU  -  April 2024


Group pf people posing with StFX flag
BELIZE  -  April 2024


Applications for 2023-2024 are closed

Immersion Service Learning - Interdisciplinary Studies 305 (IDS305)

Magazin cover showing houses in rubble

The course involves independent writing of a major academic essay, with the support of your faculty instructor/Immersion leader and peers (peer response). Your essay (minimum 20 pages) will require academic references with focused reflection on the integrated course Immersion experience.

Immersion Service Learning - Interdisciplinary Studies 305 (IDS 305)

Immersion Service Learning - Interdisciplinary Studies 305 (IDS 305)
Aimed at 3rd and 4th year students
Offered: Second Term
Credits: 3

IDS 305 is a unique opportunity to gain insight into a unique international community. Service Learning integrates Experiential Learning with Academic Study and Community Service, facilitating multidisciplinary exploration and application of classroom concepts in a community setting. This course can be used as part of DEVS or CLEN requirements or as an elective in any program.

Students will explore a topic of their choice related to the Peruvian virtual Immersion component that is  incorporated as part of this course. Students will gain guided experience to develop their reflection, research, writing and presentation skills through the completion of an academic research paper. 

Over the semester, students participate in virtual interactions with partners in Peru during scheduled classes. The goal of this experiential component is to support a community facing discrimination, poverty, isolation, poor nutrition, lack of services and food security issues. Through a reciprocal exchange of life experiences using photography or other methods, students will critically engage with and gain an understanding of the realities in the partner communities and their own. . Students will strengthen their engagement and leadership skills while enhancing their learning about development issues and evolving their own perspectives. Students will explore innovative adaptation strategies employed by a Peruvian non-profit civil association in partnership with the isolated communities they serve, to mitigate inequity and create sustainable solutions.

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Our partner, Nexos Comunitarios, is a Peruvian non-profit civil association, formed by a group of citizens, professionals, committed to education and reducing poverty in isolated communities within Peru; and in promoting a better understanding and true respect between different societies and cultures (nationally and internationally).






Regular ISL applicants are eligible to apply for a program bursary. (Not applicable to IDS courses)

Only students who have been selected to participate in an ISL experience can receive funding. Awards are applied directly to the recipients ISL fee. 

Completed Application Forms must be submitted to Service Learning by the deadline indicated on the form.

The following supporting documentation must accompany the bursary application form:

  • A short essay (1 page maximum) explaining your financial situation and the importance of this bursary for you.
  • A copy of your assessment, if you receive a government student loan, grant, bursary or allowance.
  • A copy of your statement, if you received a bank loan. 

If you do not yet have confirmation of your student loan or bursary, please make a note of this on your Application Form.

ISL Bursary and ISL endowment awards of up to $1,500,  and Global Skills Opportunity funding up to $2000 are awarded based on application assessment of qualifying criteria and financial need.

If you have qualified for a bursary award, you will be notified of the amount in your acceptance email for the Immersion Service Learning program.

Bursary awards are applied to the second ISL participant payment that is due in December.

ISL applicants may also qualify for a StFX Bursary which can be applied to immersion fees.   

Click HERE for the Bursary Application Form


Program Fees

Program fees are generally all inclusive, covering airfare, hotels enroute, most in country meals and accommodations, in country transportation, and host agency/partner costs.

Passport / visa fees, immunizations (if required), transportation to and from Halifax Stanfield International Airport and meals enroute are NOT covered by program fees.

Participating students have the option to work individually and/or together as a travel group on fundraising projects to help pay for their travel costs.  These activities may commence once students confirm their participation in the program

* A non-refundable deposit is required to confirm student participation.

* All program fees are due by the final deposit date. The university makes commitments to program partners abroad and must guarantee airline reservations. Student fees are retained to cover expense commitments made on their behalf, for airline tickets, flight insurance, taxes and host partner fees, should a student withdraw from the program.  Please note:  all immersion payments are non-refundable.

Cancellation insurance purchased with ticket reservations ONLY COVERS airline ticket costs (excluding taxes and handling charges) that are refundable if a participant must cancel their participation because of medical problems that arise during the term covered by the insurance.  All other programming costs are non-refundable.


Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed, and candidates will be interviewed. Successful applicants will be assessed based on the following qualities:

  • Curiosity and open-mindedness about another culture.
  • Willingness to work hard while at service placements
  • Ability to listen and respond thoughtfully.
  • Experience with volunteer work and groups is considered an asset, but not necessary.
  • Self-confidence, ease at meeting people; a sense of caring.
  • Sense of humor, cheerful outlook.
  • Ability to reflect on one’s own values.
  • Understanding that this is a restricted kind of travel experience, with little personal freedom to come and go as one might please. Willingness to live cheerfully with these restrictions during the experience.
  • A second language is NOT required.


Travel Health Information

Applications will be reviewed, and candidates will be interviewed. Successful applicants will be assessed based on the following qualities:

SOME QUESTIONS EVERY TRAVELLER HAS: Do I need shots? Which shots do I need? Where do I get them? Will I be exposed to any illnesses while I am there? How do I bring my syringes and insulin on the airplane? Can I get prescription drugs there if I need them? Should I bring some Advil, Imodium, Pepto Bismol, Gravol? Etc...

Here are a few travel health websites and some tips to assist you in finding the answers to the above, and many more, travel health questions:

Find a Travel Health Clinic in Canada

The International Travel Health Clinic in Antigonish is located in the Mediplex Building, 40 Church Street, Antigonish, Phone: (902) 863-4558, ext 1 (

Find out if there are immunization requirements for your destination country. (EG. Diptheria, Tetanus, and Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Yellow Fever.) For example, you must have a yellow fever vaccine to enter Ghana. Consult with your medical practitioner for recommendations on what is right for you, based on your destination, and the time prior to travel needed to allow maximum effectiveness for any immunizations you may need.

You may visit the following websites for information on immunization requirements and travel health issues for your destination country:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Public Health Agency of Canada

Bring along any medications you think you may require. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain over the counter or prescription medications while on an immersion experience. Medications available in Canada are often not available where you will be travelling.

Know the requirements for bringing prescription and non-prescription medication and medical supplies into your destination country.

All prescription and non-prescription medications must be in their original packaging.

You need to carry a letter from your doctor along with your prescriptions and/or medical supplies (e.g. syringes for insulin, Epi-pens) to avoid having them taken from you at customs.

Find out the airline requirements for transporting medical supplies (syringes for example).

PLEASE NOTE- All meals on each experience are eaten as a group, with a preset menu. The menus are mostly local foods, as part of the immersion experience. Participants typically will NOT have a choice of foods.

In the event you have food restrictions, please discuss this with ISL staff before applying, so that we can help you choose the most appropriate location.

If you have any allergies, you must be prepared to deal with an allergic reaction while on your immersion experience. Ensure that you are carrying any medications you will need to counteract an allergic reaction.

Let someone know where the medication is and how it must be administered in case you are unable to administer it yourself (e.g., Epi-pen).

Be aware that Immersion Service Learning destinations may have lower standards of care in medical facilities than what may be expected in Canada, as well as scarcity and remoteness of emergency vehicles, pharmacies (for filling prescriptions) and hospitals. Carefully consider any current medical conditions, injuries or disabilities which may have an impact on your mobility or other aspects of your travel experience.

If necessary, wear a medical alert tag.


Before You Travel

Helpful Websites:

For Immersion Service Learning experiences that travel through the United States:



FAQ About Immersion Service Learning

How do I become involved in Immersion Service Learning (ISL)?
  • STFX students in any year or discipline may apply.
  • Information may be obtained by contacting the ISL Program at (902) 867-2583 or Jodi van Dompseler at @email .
  • Come to an information session. Several will be held in September in the student union building.
  • To apply for the ISL program, please complete the online application form.
Where do Immersion Service Learning experiences go?

Immersion experiences are currently offered in the following locations:

  • Belize
  • L'Arche Ottawa
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Germany/Poland
How much do these Immersion Experiences cost; what do these costs include and who pays?
  • Fees can range from $900- $2900 and vary based on the destination chosen.
  • Fees cover out-of-pocket expenses for each participant such as airfare, hotels en route, in-country meals and accommodations, in-country transportation, and host agency/partner costs. Some exceptions may apply- please refer to individual experience pages for details.
  • Fees are paid by participants in 4 installments throughout the year OR may be paid in a lump sum.
  • Students should bring money for incidentals such as water, snacks, souvenirs, meals en route, etc.
What is not included in the Immersion Experience cost?
What options are available to help raise funds to pay for immersion experience fees?
Will my grades affect my acceptance into the ISL program?
  • Students must be in good academic standing to be accepted into the ISL program (e.g., not on academic probation) and are strongly encouraged to maintain an average of 55% or higher if they wish to participate in the ISL program.
  • With the exception of Belize and Ottawa, Immersion Experiences take place during Reading Week.  Students who do not have strong grades should assess whether they should be away during Reading Week and consider how the time commitment will affect their academics and study plan.
Do I need to speak the language of the host country I am travelling to?
  • No, interpreters are provided by the host agency/partner and remain with the group.  It is not necessary to speak the language of the host country.
What kind of food do participants eat?
  • Generally, meals on each experience are eaten as a group, with a preset menu. The menus are mostly local foods, as part of the immersion experience. Participants do NOT usually have a choice of foods.
  • In the event you have food restrictions, please discuss this with ISL staff before applying, so that we can help you choose the most appropriate location.
Will I need a passport?
  • Yes, for all destinations outside of Canada, a passport is required.
  • Participants must provide their passport information by the end of November.
  • If your passport will expire within 6 months of the return date of your Immersion Experience, you will need to apply for a new passport.
  • Visit Passport Canada for information on obtaining or renewing Canadian passports.
Are certain immunizations required for traveling to the Immersion destinations?
Will I receive course credit for participating in Immersion Service Learning?
  • Participation in ISL itself does not provide course credit.  It is a personal learning experience.
  • Students can incorporate an Immersion Experience as an assignment within the following courses: BIOL 391 (Dr. Russell Wyeth), and & DEVS 311 (Dr. Jonathan Langdon).
  • IDS courses for credit with a travel component may occasionally be offered through Immersion Service Learning.  Inclusions and fees will differ. Please refer to the course page for details (where applicable).
  • IDS 305 is a 3-credit course offered in the second term that incorporates a virtual Immersion project.
Does StFX have any opportunities to study or work abroad?