Australian Catholic University, from Australia, Assam Don Bosco University, from India, and Fu Jen Catholic University, from Taiwan, were chosen to be part of the UNISERVITATE Regional Hub for Asia & Oceania. The main goal is to institutionalize service-learning and De La Salle University (DLSU), from Philippines, as coordinator of the Hub, will accompany the universities in this process.
At the announcement in a virtual event, Brother Ray Suplido, president of DLSU, welcomed the universities and invited them to “start a meaningful and collaborative partnership to propagate service-learning as a tool to fulfill our missions as integral educational institutions”.
“Our countries in Asia and Oceania are very diverse… However this diversity can be our strength and can offer us the opportunity to be united, to share success stories and approaches to service-learning. Together, we can join to answer the call of Pope Francis, to form individuals who are willing to put themselves at the service of the community. Perhaps that will be the gateway where education to service will become education as service”, he concluded.
Richard Brosse, the portfolio manager for Catholic Higher Education of Porticus, remarked the crucial role of the universities in the transformation of the world:
“The young students have the opportunity to be invited to a journey -an educational journey and a formation journey- in which we are convinced that service-learning is a very powerful tool to allow them to do a kind of human, social, ethical and spiritual transformation, while getting qualified to do a specific professional task.”
After the UNISERVITATE programme briefing, María Rosa Tapia -UNISERVITATE Programme Coordinator- announced the names of the first 3 universities to be supported by UNISERVITATE, selected after a high quality assessment process. They will be part of the 2O Higher Education Institutions around the world to share a capacity building programme to institutionalize service-learning.
“All of us are potential agents of social change.”
Mai Guanzón, Service-Learning Coordinator of DLSU, introduced the authorities and representatives of the universities, who presented their institutions and their vision of community engagement, core values and initiatives, in terms of the formation journey proposed to the students.
First, Father Anthony Casamento, Vice President, and Sandra Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement, of Australian Catholic University (ACU), explained ACU community engagement principles: building connections, acting with humility, developing understanding, affirming dignity, pursuing justice.
Second, Riju Sharma, Director School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Hazel Wahlang, Coordinator of Dev. Studies & Initiatives, of Assam Don Bosco University, shared the graduate attributes framework (intellectually competent, morally upright, spiritually inspired, civically responsible, socially committed), and their core values: family and community, power through participation and the idea that “all of us are potential agents of social change”.
Finally, Fr Leszek Niewdana, SVD, Vice President for Mission, Fu Jen Catholic University, commented that they had been offering many service-learning activities to the students -locally and abroad based, academic and voluntary- in the hope that they can get a “deeper experience of society, of what other people are facing, but also to get to know more about themselves”. The university is an active, creative and engaged member of the Service-Leraning Asian Network (SLAN).
The closing words of the event were in charge of Fritzie Ian De Vera, Vice President for the Lasallian Mission of DSLU, who shared the year’s theme for their activities and its meaning: “I am with you” or “In solidarity”. “This reminds us to stand in solidarity with all in need… Being true to our theme, we are in solidarity with you in responding to Pope Francis call in establishing a global village of education. We are in solidarity with you in the efforts to have a dialog with our young people who can make us aware of the urgent call for intergenerational solidarity. And we are one with you in serving society, especially the poor and the marginalized.”
UNISERVITATE is a global and networked programme that is established through a process of permanent development and the integration of new actors and institutions from a series of regional hubs strategically distributed around the world.