On Holy Tuesday, April 16, the UnivForum took place at Universidad Pontificia de la Santa Cruz. In the palazzo Apollinare hundreds of students and professors gathered who, after working intensely from their cities of origin, sought on this day to expose the ideas reached, to debate the conclusions obtained, to reflect on new concepts and, in short, to share intellectual, social or artistic concerns.
As many of you may remember, last year the UnivForum was opened with a Mass in the Basilica of San Apolinar, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of coexistence. This year we repeated the experience inviting the speakers who would give the afternoon workshops.
A few minutes after the end of the ceremony it was noticeable outside the basilica the presence of a crowd assembled in the courtyard of the university, place of meeting and information for the assistants. Some novelties in the decoration of the cortile invited that many people took group photos in front of giant letters «UNIV» or together to an eye-catching large yellow balloon floating above the courtyard and welcomed everyone who entered the university. Most consulted in the displayed panels the information of the schedules and of the classrooms in the that academic competitions would take place. One of the most important novelties of this year is that the Case Competitionwas recovered, in which twelve teams from all over the world took part. Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Poland and Spain.
“Getting down to business: the transforming power of work" was the motto under which more than a hundred papers were presented and which involved more than three hundred students from thirty different countries. In particular, almost 75 communications arrived in Rome -written in English and Spanish-, a dozen solidarity projects, eleven artistic works, 24 documentaries and short films. In addition, of those who competed in the Case Competition, ten teams took part in the debate competition. For the occasion, a nice guide was again edited and distributed at the entrance of the university, which, among many other things, showed the titles of the papers and projects presented. With a quick glance, one could see the variety of approaches and styles used. The titles that could be read were very diverse, from «The Power» to «The Power». From «Verification Journalism on Democracy» to «Autonomous Distribution Systems with Drones», passing through «The Transformative Work of the Linguistic Missionaries in America (XV-XIXth Century)». The penalty, as always, was that it was impossible to attend all the activities, which took place consecutively throughout the morning in the classrooms of the PUSC.
In the afternoon, participants could choose between six sessions or «workshops» led by experts from different fields. Luis Gutiérrez Rojas, a psychiatrist and renowned lecturer, humorously presented the «keys to maturity in university students» before a crowded crowd that filled the University’s main hall. At the same time, Ricardo Calleja, professor at IESE-Universidad de Navarra, in a lively lecture given in English, spoke about the challenges involved in the responsible use of technology by individuals, companies and the political class. In a practical session, those closest to architecture and engineering were able to learn, thanks to the experience accumulated by José Luis Pérez Halcón, the ins and outs of an architectural studio that has been reinventing itself over time. Luis Felipe Martí Borbolla, from IPADE, gave a lecture focused on corporate social responsibility and was also very well received. Finally, Giorgio Faro, professor of philosophy, and Francisco Iniesta, professor at IESE, offered two sessions for philosophy students and Case Competition· participants, respectively.
At the end of these sessions, Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes went up to the lecture hall of aula magna for the closing conference, titled "Discovering the joy of optimal work". Although they come from different specialties -Majeres is a psychiatrist and, Younes, an engineer- have been developing together for some time programs of mentoring for young people and have devised a novel method that teaches how to work efficiently, based on the exercise of human virtues. It also has the advantage that it is applicable to multiple facets of life. Judging by the multitudinous follow-up they had and the many questions they were asked -many of which were left unanswered- the conference captured the interest of the participants.
As usual, this academic day closed with the presentation of prizes -fifteen on this occasion, distributed among the different categories- presided over by Casimir Kouassi, president of the UnivForum. In his speech he reminded those present of a popular saying from his country, Ivory Coast, which says «seul le travail paye» (only work bears fruit). He explained that «only hard, constant and well done work solves problems. We young people have the responsibility to prepare ourselves conscientiously to take advantage of this transforming power of work well done, understanding it as service to all. And he recalled a few words from Francisco father, taken from his recent apostolic exhortation «Christus vivit», which fit perfectly with this year’s theme, the transforming power of work: «It is a fundamental matter of society because work for a young person is not simply an income-oriented task. It is an expression of human dignity, it is a path of maturation and social insertion, it is a constant stimulus to grow in responsibility and creativity, it is a protection against the tendency towards individualism and comfort, and it is also giving glory to God through the development of one’s own capacities» (Francis. Christus Vivit. 271).
The announcement of the theme of the upcoming UnivForum -«Leadership. The leaders of the next generation»- put an end to the day and, at the same time, kicked off the next, in which hundreds of university students from the southern hemisphere will begin to work now.