Put Veritas, Unitas, Caritas into action before graduation



Will Wetzel

Although it has only been a few weeks since the conclusion of the Fall 2015 Service and Justice Experiences, it is never too early to start thinking about going on one of these extraordinary trips in the spring. Ask anybody who has been on one of these trips. He or she will tell you that it is a life-changing experience. And he or she is absolutely right.

I can vouch for this claim. Although I withdrew my application for the fall, I participated in one of these trips in the spring semester of my freshman year. I traveled with a group of 17 other students to Laredo, Texas, where we worked with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to help build homes for families in need. Throughout the week, I was able to interact with the Laredo residents, and their stories exposed me to a variety of issues and problems that plague many Americans today. I have always believed that everyone should have an understanding of the problems facing America.

And that is the reason why a Service and Justice Experience is the cornerstone of the Villanova college experience.

At our school, we live by the motto “veritas, unitas, caritas.” Translated to English, it means truth, unity and charity. This motto is not hard to live by, especially at Villanova, where we are constantly reminded of it. However, this motto is not meant to merely be followed when we are in the Villanova community. The motto’s three components are supposed to be lived up to every day of the year, regardless of where we are. Not all communities live by this motto, which is why we have terrible occurrences of crime, violence and hurt feelings. 

A Service and Justice Experience allows us to travel to a community that is far different from our own. Some of these places require us to bring passports, while others are just a long day’s drive away. Regardless of the location, though, all of the trip locations have one thing in common—they introduce us to a problem that although we may have heard about it in newspapers and online resources, we get to see it through their eyes.

This is why a Service and Justice Experience is so vital to the Villanova experience. It allows us the opportunity to venture outside the Villanova bubble that we are accustomed to, and brings us to another location that may not be as fortunate. It allows us to see real poverty, which is something that I know very few Villanova students can say they have seen. By traveling to another location, we are able to see that the world is bigger than just ourselves. 

By traveling to another location and participating in one of these experiences, we get the opportunity to see the Villanova motto play out in real life. For veritas, we see the truth. By interacting with the community members and hearing their stories, we gain a better understanding of at least one issue that is plaguing our country. For example, when I went to Laredo, I was exposed to the separation of families due to immigration as well as poverty. The stories I was told offered me a new perspective on the issue. Whether your view is changed or not is irrelevant. What is important is that you now have a better understanding of the issue, and therefore have a better chance at appreciating the difficulty of their situation. 

This leads directly into caritas. By charity, I do not mean that we help them so that we can feel good about ourselves. This is not the reason to do a Service and Justice Experience. By charity, I mean that a mutual relationship is forged between us and whoever we are visiting. We can help contribute to their community by lending a hand, but the experience also can impact us in a much more meaningful way. Through direct service or education, which is dependent on the trip you go on, we are impacted by their stories. We learn what we do not understand completely, and we grow as individuals because of this newfound understanding.

As a result, this leads into the third part of the motto: unitas. Service and Justice Experiences allow this mutual relationship that is formed between us and the residents to unite against a common problem. In Laredo, it was about building standard homes for those who needed them. The main objectives of these experiences differ, which makes each experience offered unique. You will never get the same experience twice, and that enables us to grow as smarter and better people with each trip we go on.

I cannot stress enough that one of these experiences will change your life. I plan on applying for a trip in the spring, hopefully to gain a new and better understanding of a new community about which I know little. I encourage everyone to consider going on one of these trips during their time at Villanova. The experience will change you. I guarantee it.