Immersions: understanding development from a people’s perspective
What is an immersion
Immersion is a guided experience, in which, the development practitioner and policy makers spends some days with the people of different socio-economic background/ of different communities to get a first hand understanding of their lives.
Thus, immersion provides a unique realisation opportunity to learn about the complexities of people’s realities.Talking with them while living with them, experiencing their reality for ourselves, and thus refreshing our understanding of the dynamics which trap them in poverty.
Insight: A Praxis Immersion Programme
At Praxis, we have shaped an immersion programme, called Insight, which is envisaged as aspontaneous learning process to facilitate policy makers, implementers and advocates to dialogue with communities to enrich their knowledge and understanding. Unlike an orientation or a study visit, the immersion programmerequiresparticipants to be a complete part of the lives of their host families and communities during the period of the stay.
An immersion is a guided, total experience in which a participant spends a number of days fully immersed in the daily realities of poor people from the developing world.
How is an immersion different from a field visit
An immersion is a much deeper and more powerful experience than any field visit. It has structured days of stay with the family/community including participating in their daily activities. It is also a powerful way for policy makers and practitioners to understand the realities of poor and excluded people as well as experience the impact of social policies on their lives.
Immersions provide an opportunity to development practitioners to keep themselves up to date with real situations of poor people. It offers an added value that other forms of learning do not provide:
- Reality Check: Provides one the means of checking against complex and diverse realities
- Informal Judgment: Understand development issues from the peopleʼs perspective
- Personal Development: Develop a holistic understanding of reality based on first hand experience
- Highlights the gap: Internalise the disconnect between reality and our understanding of it
- Re-motivates and re-energises: Rekindles our personal and professional motivation
How does it work
There is no single model or blueprint for immersion. The experience built so far is, in fact, quite diverse depending on the organisation, local context, however, an immersion should be open, voluntary and based on a personal ground. Immersees should be ready to abandon their professional roles and overcome personal bias in order to see things from a different perspective, that of the insiders.
Concretely, participants are expected to take full part in the lives of their hosts, help them in their daily tasks and interact with them and the community so as to understand their living conditions and the dynamics, which affect them.
Do you want to know more?
- Resource Centre
Over the last twenty years, more and more organisations have adopted immersion and utilised it for different purposes. As a result, a rich body of good practice is currently available, which is enriched every day by new, innovative experiences. To ensure that this wealth of practice is shared and put at its best use, a virtual resource centre is part of this site. Through this service, you can keep yourself abreast of the latest on immersion as well as know more about its pioneering work and evolution.
- Immersion Forum
Similarly, there is a felt need for immersion practitioners and others to interact more, share their diverse experiences, critically discuss, learn and build up a body of best practices. This is the aim of the Immersion Forum. If you are interested in being part of this online group discussion, contact us.
- Insight, Praxis Immersion Programme
At Praxis, we too believe that regular reality checks are crucial experiences for any person engaged in the development sector, particularly policy makers. Which is why, we have developed “Insight”, a learning programme based on the principle of immersion. Follow the link to know more.
From Beneficiaries to Agents of Change was launched in Chennai on January 23rd in the presence of members of marginalised communities who can use the self-administrable tools in the book to assess their community mobilisation process. The book has been put together and validated by Praxis with inputs from several community-based organisations in Tamil Nadu and Manipur. It can be used for anybody wanting to assess community preparedness for vulnerability reduction.
Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices successfully launched its Read Aloud series of participatory storybooks for children and young adults at Odyssey’s flagship store in Adyar, Chennai