Closing the fourth year since the creation of Uniservitate and already going through its second phase, today we present this newsletter that will be sent every two months among the members of the Programme, and which aspires to be a new space for communication and strengthening our ties.
When we started Uniservitate in September 2019, we sought to meet with those who were already developing service-learning projects from Catholic higher education institutions. We wanted to createa global polyhedric network and learn together in and from the diversity of each region.
The pandemic forced us to redesign some initiatives, but it did not stop us; it made more evident the urgent need for universities “that go forth”. We sharpened our ingenuity and recreated digital resources to be able to have meaningful encounters and continue learning and serving even in isolation.
This is how we got to know each other those who today make up Uniservitate and to discover the contexts, problems and strengths of each one to integrate academic knowledge with the solidarity service carried out by the students.
And one day we recognized that more than a programme, Uniservitate is that multifaceted network that we had sought to form, a fraternal community that began to bear fruit not only on an academic level. For example, two of Uniservitate leading universities welcomed into their teams people who had to leave their countries because of the war in Ukraine and authoritarianism in Nicaragua.
We are witnesses of the transformative capacity of service-learning at a time – as explained by Richard Brosse, from Porticus – “of multidimensional epochal change like the one humanity is going through.” At the opening of the IV Uniservitate Global Symposium, held in the Philippines last November, Brosse stated that in the face of so many cultural, anthropological, philosophical, religious and spiritual changes “we may feel powerless, but we are not powerless. For us who are committed to the world of education, this change is a call to have a comprehensive pedagogy that produces a new anthropological fabric for the good of humanity. This is the genius of service-learning, what makes it incredibly transformative.”
We want to continue growing, learning together and sharing solidarity experiences with more and more Catholic, or Catholic-inspired, higher education institutions. That is why in this newsletter we launch the call for the Membership project and anticipate some incentives such as research scholarships and the Uniservitate Award 2024.
We also share in the newsletter information about Uniservitate global and regional meetings and events such as the Global Symposium, the international conferences held in Kenya, Palestine and the United States and our presence at World Youth Day Lisbon 2023. We communicate with joy and gratitude two initiatives generated from the fraternal exchange between the regional hubs: a moment of Global Prayer (information is provided in this newsletter) and “A decalogue of lessons learned. How to regionally manage a global service-learning program in Catholic higher education”, soon to be published.
Likewise, we showcase recognitions and initiatives of those who knew how to cultivate the seeds of service-learning, such as the path of an Albanian nun, the international recognition received by one of the Uniservitate supported universities and the participation in an Erasmus programme, of the European Union, in a project of Ukrainian universities with the participation of representatives of Uniservitate and CLAYSS as a reference organization on service-learning. And we amplify the voices of some protagonists, members of the Uniservitate academic board or representatives of the regional hubs and Porticus, who allude to the value of service-learning for their lives and contexts.
Information and perspectives that testify that another way of connecting within and outside universities is possible. That is why we have proposed to deepen the spiritual dimension of service-learning and open dialogue to congregations and religious institutions with vast experience on different continents.
We want the world to know that Hope is alive for education and, even with our limits and in our smallness, we want to be a candle that lights other candles so that the Light shines more and more intensely.