Independent Cultural Immersion Project (ICIP)

The ICIP is a requirement, but, more importantly, it is an opportunity. Reflect on its possibilities. The ICIP can help you establish roots, cultivate personal relationships, learn the language of the host country and discover or nurture something you enjoy doing. Good luck!

Note: Students attending the Holy Cross academic year or semester programs in Cameroon, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Peru, Argentina, Scotland and Spain must do an ICIP. Students at other programs do not have to do an ICIP.

The Independent Cultural Immersion Project (ICIP) is an integral component of the Holy Cross Study Abroad experience. It provides students with the opportunity to pursue a special interest in the local culture. The ICIP is not intended as an additional academic class. Instead, it offers students a unique extracurricular or co-curricular opportunity to immerse themselves in an aspect of the local community that matters deeply to them. The purpose of the project is to encourage students to develop a personal interest or passion and, thereby come to better understand their host country. The ICIP thus provides a concrete structure in which dedicated engagement with the project can deeply enrich a student's experience abroad.

Whatever your interest may be, your ICIP will likely fall into one of three general categories. You may participate in a Study Abroad Internship, in virtually any field which provides a productive and enriching experience (legal, business, etc.). Another ICIP option is a Community Based Learning Project where you volunteer on a regular basis at a university, church-affiliated or secular agency devoted to community service and/or social justice. Finally, you can opt to Follow Your Passion and develop a hobby or pursuit that is of real interest to you. Obviously, there can be overlap among the three categories of the ICIP, as one can (should) be passionate about community service and internships. See below for specific examples.

Each host university has appointed a member of their faculty or other qualified person to act as Project Director for Holy Cross students. The Project Director is not a personal tutor but a "resource person." He or she can advise students regarding internship and community service opportunities and direct students to on or off-campus resources. Students are expected to work independently throughout the year, and generally meet about four or five times with the Project Director for advice and guidance. It is, however, the STUDENT'S responsibility to keep the Project Director informed of his or her progress on the ICIP throughout the year.

You have already addressed possible projects in your application to study abroad, but keep an open mind and remain flexible. Students who wish to do an internship, however,should consult with the Study Abroad office after being accepted to a program, as internships often require more advance planning. Many students decide on a topic upon arrival in the host country. Often students join an activity at the host university (a new sport; a theatre group; a dance ensemble), and a project that they could not have previously imagined takes shape. For example, one Biology/Pre-Med student at University College Cork joined a theatre group for the first time in his life and became deeply involved in acting and stage design, which became the subject of his ICIP. In any case, you should become actively engaged in your ICIP as soon as you have settled in at your program, certainly no later than three to four weeks after arrival. For students attending language classes at a different site, this means after arrival at your ultimate host destination.

A Holy Cross student interned at a bank in London. In Strasbourg, several students have had internships at the International Institute of the Rights of Man. One young woman with an interest in journalism arranged an internship at a local newspaper in York, England, interviewed local politicians and community groups and had some of her articles published. A young man in Florence interned at a local, family-run film company and produced his own video. Another young woman conducted guided tours of a medieval church after studying the art and architecture in considerable detail.

A student was a tutor in a local primary school, and a young man worked with handicapped children in an after-school sports program. Two students in Florence taught Italian to recent immigrants. In York, England, a young woman did volunteer work in a shelter for the homeless and, remarkably, helped to establish a retreat for battered women. Another student was instrumental in setting up a recycling program at her host university. Many students in Perú volunteer at a local children's hospital.

Two students who enjoyed basketball (but never played at Holy Cross) were invited to coach an emerging women's basketball team at St. Andrew's University and wrote an account of their experiences at competitions throughout the UK. Holy Cross students have studied the traditional music of the host country (Spanish guitar; Irish accordion) or arranged to work with local artists. One student in León, Spain, participated in a choir whose work was in the soundtrack of a short film. Students have been involved in choruses, radio stations, newspapers, sports clubs, archeological and restoration projects, travel agencies, theater and dance performance clubs, local outdoor markets.

The Project Director's assessment of the project will be based primarily on the final presentation, which should record the student's year-long involvement and continuous participation in an aspect of the local culture and reflect critically on that involvement. This will usually be in the form of a written essay (10-12 pages) or a reasonable equivalent (video, photo essay, performance). The final form and presentation must be approved the Project Director. In some circumstances, the project could be undertaken in conjunction with one of the student's courses, but in that case the Director will confirm that the project is not identical with work the student has presented for course credit at the University. The project will not satisfy any course requirements at Holy Cross, but it will be given an "overload" 1/4 unit academic credit and will appear with a grade on the student's transcript. The grade will not affect a student's GPA; however, an excellent independent project can favorably influence a student's entry into the workplace or his or her application to graduate programs. What's more, the ICIP can also serve as the basis of an application for a number of competitive fellowships awarded to students upon graduation, such as the Fulbright (see section from the Graduate Studies Office).

College Honors students studying abroad may find that the ICIP can be a way of developing the senior-year Honors thesis. We encourage Honors students to consider topics which will enhance their Honors thesis, though they are free to explore other interests. Honors students should seek ways of developing some aspect of their thesis topic locally, while making use of the excellent academic resources available to them. We recommend that Honors' students communicate with their thesis Advisor at Holy Cross as well as the Project Director at the host institution.

Students who elect to do an internship or service project are encouraged to extend their projects upon their return to Holy Cross by working with the Holy Cross Academic Internship Program and the Donelan Office of Community Based Learning. For example, a student who tutors children in English in León, Spain, might arrange to teach English in Worcester.

Following your return to Holy Cross, you will be invited to apply to participate on the Study Abroad panel at the annual Academic Conference in April, which features student presentations of their ICIP or some unique aspect of their Study Abroad experience. Every spring a graduating senior is selected for the Study Abroad Award for the best ICIP. The award winner is chosen by the Study Abroad Committee.