Mexico is finalizing the details for Pope Francis’ arrival this Friday. Various sectors of society are taking part actively in the preparations. Among them, is the university world.
In this interview, Carlos Guereca, rector of the Inter-American University for Development (UNID), points out to ZENIT the challenges in the world of education, as well as the hopes and fruits that the Holy Father’s visit might leave. The Pope’s appeals to “cause a stir,” to accept the challenge of being a Christian, to reject the disposable culture and to adopt the culture of support have great echo in the youth, said the Rector.
UNID is a higher educational institution with private support, with a presence in 24 federative entities. At present, it has 50 campuses in different parts of Mexico.
ZENIT: What are the great present challenges of education in Mexico?
Guereca: Our country has great challenges in the educational field. Only 30% of young people attend University for different reasons, one of them being coverage. In 2021, seven million young people will not be able to study for lack of space in the Universities.
However, the greatest challenge of education in Mexico is to give special attention to its human quality. To define the base and the standard that measures the human quality of a professional, to educate in ethics and values, to answer the questions that make the human being yet more human: Who am I? From whence do I come? Where am I going?
ZENIT: What can the Holy Father’s visit imply for the world of education in Mexico?
Guereca: Pope Francis’ visit is a reason for joy for the Mexican people, but it is even more so for young people. The Pope’s appeals to “cause a stir,” to accept the challenge of being a Christian, to reject the throwaway culture and to adopt the culture of support have great echo in the youth.
The Universities must provide the spaces and opportunities so that those appeals that the Pope makes to the world (not only to Christians), can be put into practice. We will be very attentive to the messages of the Supreme Pontiff in our country so that they lead us in the formative journey of young Mexicans.
ZENIT: Pope Francis will have a meeting with the world of work. From your position as Rector of a Mexican University, do you think the Mexico’s young people have hope for the future?
Guereca: Of course! And not only the young people, but all of us who live the virtue of hope founded on Jesus Christ. But speaking especially of young people, they have a natural tendency to want to improve society, to take part actively in projects that transcend and are part of something greater and more noble. That strength that youth has infects those of us around them and motivates us in the certainty of a better Mexico.
ZENIT: How do you help young people at your University to keep alive hope in a society so scourged by violence?
Guereca: The Universities contribute to keep the hope in young people for a better future. The study and efforts they make are channelled to a good end, which is to have a profession and, therefore, work that helps them to live their vocation worthily. This motivates young people.
There is talk of preparing our young people to compete in a changing and global world. However, at UNID we believe that not only do we have to prepare them and provide them with tools to compete, but also to exercise a positive leadership based on service to others. That, during their stay in the University, our students put into practice selfless donation to do good so that they find in their professional life a means to help the people around them, giving priority to those who have not had the same economic, family, study, etc, opportunities.
In our University we offer the UNID-LIVES program of integral formation which is made up of four essential fundamentals to achieve the positive transformation of the individual and his surroundings: Values, Social Impact, University Life and Spiritual Growth — all of this through curricular projects and co-curricular activities in the course of their professional career.
In addition, and very especially, our University premises have the support of chaplains who help the students and administrators in their spiritual life with dialogues and Sacraments.
ZENIT: Do you know if there are young people of your University involved in the Holy Father’s visit? How?
Guereca: More than 2,000 UNID students and collaborators are taking part actively as volunteers in the different cities that Pope Francis will be visiting, primarily in Morelia, Michoacan.
In addition, we are supporting the administration of some of the official Social Networks of His Holiness’ visit and helping in the Communications Office.
ZENIT: What fruits do you think the papal visit will leave?
Guereca: Pope Francis’ visit is an opportunity to reaffirm the Christian vocation of the Mexican people, to revive the flame of faith, and to take up again the flag of charity.
I am certain that the Supreme Pontiff’s presence in Mexican lands will move our hearts in the imitation of the merciful Christ and in charity to the less favoured.
ZENIT: Do you have any other information that you think would be of interest to ZENIT’s readers?
Guereca: The Inter-American University for Development is concerned with the integral formation of its students through the UNID-LIVES program of formation, which seeks to impact positively 100% of its students, benefitting more than 40,000 people a year. Its students take five subjects of formation in the course of their career, carrying out concrete actions to support the society. In the last survey the institution made of employees, 92% acknowledged the integrity of the young students and graduates of UNID. I thank ZENIT for this important space and I invite all the readers to follow closely the Pope’s activities in our country.[Translation by ZENIT]