From Poland: “My first year at the Sophia University”

Małgorzata Szwarc (a sinistra) con due colleghe

Małgorzata Szwarc (left) with her university friends.

An interview with Małgorzata, in short, Gosia for her friends, at Loppiano, where “the culture of relationships” is being developed, as Pope Francis pointed out in his recent video message on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation: “there is urgent need, in fact, for young people, men and women, who not only are suitably prepared in various disciplines, but are also full of that wisdom which surges from love of God.”

What do you remember most of your arrival in the IUS, a year ago? “When I got here at Sophia I could only say ‘My name’s Gosia and I come from Poland. Learning Italian was no joke …. At night when the others would go to bed, I stayed up to study. I remember hearing words which in Polish had another meaning, and it was quite confusing.

What aspect would you underline for a new arrival? “That part of my experience in Sophia which I feel is most important (and which I didn’t expect at all!). The intensity of life at the residence is the most enriching and concrete experience in terms of listening to others and establishing dialogue. It is the first step in learning how to forget yourself and making the other person feel at ease in order to make what we study in the courses a concrete reality. In the classroom we concentrate on the lessons, but in the residence this is a necessary choice we make to coexist together with our different customs, cultures and mentalities.

For example? We do a lot of things like cooking meals, cleaning, conversing and studying. Then there are moments when we relax, hold gatherings, and watch films. Community life leads us to confront the others in all fields, and at times there are difficult situations, misunderstandings. But it is in these moments that we grow together, and learn to accept one another as we are.”

What will you remember most, of this experience in another country? “The fact that Sophia is located in Italy, in Loppiano, helped me to seek my own identity abroad, outside of Poland. Comparing myself with others has lead me to ask myself if my characteristics are the fruit of my own choice or only the sum of traditions and convictions of the place where I was raised, and which transmitted to me, for example, my religious beliefs, of utmost importance in a very catholic country like Poland.. I still have not found the answer to all my queries, and it may take me a lifetime, but I still have a whole year ahead, here in Sophia!”

What in your view were the most interesting courses and why? “Above all, the courses on theology, ethics and sociology (like “Anthropology and ethics of the person” and “Professional Ethics”). Along each of these pathways, something touched me deeply, and I felt I could make these concepts part of my own daily life.  At the start I had no inkling as to what the IUS diploma would signify: “Fundaments and perspectives of a culture of unity,” but after a year I now see that these words were not written at random. Also the courses in Economy are important. For the first time I understood clearly that goods must not only be multiplied, purchased or sold, but shared, according to the logic of the Economy of Communion.”

Do you think this educational path offers a qualified response to the demands of society? “It is not easy to answer this question since the demand changes continually. But Sophia opens your mindset. And with an open mentality I hope to understand society better, what lies at the core of relationships between people, so as to have an impact on these relationships. I think that a substantial result I will take with me is to always seek a point in common to share with others.”

Source: interview with Małgorzata Szwarc, Poland – “My first year at the IUS”

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