“I received my IUS Degree in September 2010. I had just returned to Belgium when I was offered a very interesting job. I know I passed the review and that I was given this position because of this degree and I am very happy since this type of work corresponds to my ideals.
Today I am collaborating with an association which brings together more than a hundred professionals, who hold posts of responsibility in my country. We meet once a month to discuss a particular relevant topic on politics, the economy as well as the arts and sports... Among these specialists, my task is that of coordinaating the meeting, to prepare and facilitate the exchange, but also to enrich the dialogue and compile the results.
The objective of this initiative is to clarify what kind of contribution a life inspired by universal Gospel values can give when confronted by modern issues. In fact, after each meeting, the participants, who share the same inspirational Gospel values, commit themselves as we do to write articles, brief essays and testimonials on topics of the day which are then sent on to major newspapers.
Our society has need of greater sharing and I think that Christian values are essential. There’s also a need for a greater opening towards others and to talk about our beliefs, willing to discuss them, making ourselves present in public debates.
How did I arrive at Sophia? I had finished my studies of Philology at Leuven University but I was searching for a field of specialization. Just then, I heard about IUS: it was in 2008 and the inauguration of the first accademic year was nearing. What attracted me most was its interdisciplinary character and the fact that it proposed a life experience, not just a theoretical reflection. So I found myself among the first 39 students who had come from all over the world. To choose Sophia University had been a couragous step for each one of us there, but as soon as I arrived I became aware of the ‘gain’ we would receive.
During the exchange which followed each lesson, we often lived moments of special dialogue, together with our professors, and we found we were giving the best of ourselves. Among us were lawyers, economists, engineers, psychologists, artists and so on... Each one having pursued already at least one bachelor level degree. Some had already been part of the work force prior to applying to the IUS. The moment the lesson started, everyone was asked to open up to their inner self, to make room for the ‘new’ which was being born there in the classroom, to not allow ourselves to be conditioned by prejudise or by one’s priorities. Such attentive listening is not something banal and so becomes a fundamental exercise.
The interdisciplinary approach has another characteristic aspect. Today, each area of knowledge struggles in the face of reality. At IUS we experienced that through continuous dialogue between fields a progressive refining of our personal views was making headway. It is a life lesson: the individual results are an aspect of it, but in the first place there must be the common good, a new vision of society in which the contribution of each person is validated and respected.
Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the IUS, was able to point to this need also in the fields of politics, economics, communications, math, psychology, etc. It is a quest which I myself today experience the importance of: if one thinks about the common good, solutions to problems are obviously interdisciplinary.
In my thesis, I deepened “The Verbal Event”: the meaning of the ‘word’ in today’s culture, a word often abused, reduced to an empty shell. While constantly talking with my mentor, with other professors and the students in my course, I was able to widen my analysis to languages and spaces that were novel to me. Even today, this study is positively influencing my relational capacities. I realize that from words there comes a great strength and that it is important to speak from the heart.
I am convinced that the time spent at IUS did not end with attaining my degree...rather, that it has all begun in a totally new way.”