Virtual Service Immersions: Solidarity in Distanced Times

Over spring break, I had the opportunity to be a part of a Vincentians in Action (VIA) virtual service immersion to El Salvador. VIA, a program within the Division of Mission and Ministry, hosted four virtual immersions for students this spring: Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and El Salvador. Through the immersion program, I met over zoom with DePaul students, a staff leader, and two wonderful staff leaders from CRISPAZ.

Our immersion was hosted by CRISPAZ, or Christians for Peace in El Salvador. This organization works towards building solidarity and striving towards social change and justice in a nonviolent manner.

Over the course of four days, I learned about the Salvadoran civil war, forced disappearances, Óscar Romero, labor and women’s rights, migration, climate change, gangs, as well as many other topics.

However, these were not the only things I learned about. I also learned about how important it is to be patient and consistent in my activism. I learned about the importance of making activism sustainable. Carmen from the organization ORMUSA, which works to educate about labor rights and women’s rights, said something that has stuck to me ever since I left the final zoom call of my immersion in both laughter and tears, “Organize the anger. Defend the joy.”

I was pleasantly surprised by how virtual immersions seemed to so perfectly capture the essence of in-person immersions. I felt such a strong sense of community, and I left my immersion with much more knowledge about El Salvador’s history and current reality. I want to move forward by sharing the stories I’ve learned about in El Salvador and by continuing to embrace the community I’ve found there and here at DePaul.

The Vincentians in Action community offers service immersions to students over winter and spring breaks. If you’d like more information about immersions or other service opportunities, contact You can also follow @DePaulVIA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

By Sarah Dababneh, DePaul Class of 2022