The Three Immersions

Everyone who knows about Lauder, is in Lauder, or has experienced Lauder holds one unequivocal truth: the overseas summer immersion is a transformational experience in which the individual is transformed by an improved understanding of a country’s and language’s culture.

In two words? Immersion rocks.

It is however just now that I am realizing that there are two other immersions that are equally important and at times as significant to the individual to the program. When the Class of 2016 arrived in Philadelphia in May, we had the distinct feeling we were about to meet a unique group of individuals. It was true, but for some of us, it was also the first time we were immersed in a family that was as thirsty to understand other cultures as we were. The first time when speaking in a language foreign to your mother tongue was not a thing you used to brag with but merely a tool with which to relate and better comprehend the attitude and history of your next friend to be. It was an immersion into the U.S. culture for those who had arrived for the first time in the U.S., providing the unique opportunity for those of us who had gone through that experience years back to act as mediators and those who were born and raised here to act as ambassadors.

My Lauder classmates were excited to hear about what drove each other  to learn a particular language and how their knowledge of a particular culture expanded completely free and unhindered by awkward translations and the long-gone need to look up common phrases in the book. We found the stories to be as diverse as the German tracker working in Germany but driving his non-profit to establish schools in India, to the Mid-Atlantic American who found a passion for education in China, to students who had spent half their life in Africa and half in Europe working a diversity of financial jobs.

That’s the first immersion and it changes your perspective heading into the third immersion because you walk in Wharton in Augsut comfortable with the thought that a family of people already exists. The Lauder family is a group of people that understands you not because they might know every detail about your life but because they know what drives you and get excited, not deterred by your intellectual curiosity.

The third immersion is the biggest and most challenging but can also be the most exciting. Meeting strangers is not the easiest of things for most people.

Meeting six people in a learning team? No problem. Meeting your 70ish person cohort? Ok… Meeting your 200 person cluster? Wow. Your 800 classmates? Things just got complicated.

By: Diego Hernandez Diaz (Lauder Class of 2016, Portuguese Track)

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