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Veritas: A Student's Perspective

Natalia Quintana shares an insider's look at the Veritas Program.
Keyword: veritas

Now that the fall semester is coming to a close, I think it's safe to say that the Veritas program has very much met the expectations I had coming into the Mount. Actually, it's exceeded them. In a span of just a few months I've read all kinds of literature, discussed tons of themes, met new people and even learned things about myself along the way.

Not to say that it hasn't been challenging. I've already lost count of all the essays and journals I've had to write for the Symposium this semester, and don't even get me started on all that reading. But it was all worth it in the end. So far, the Veritas program has prepared me to have in-depth conversations and understand things that will affect me in so many ways, even outside of the classroom. Most importantly, it's prepared me to become a responsible member of the global community.

A huge misconception that people seem to have about teenagers and young adults is that we're not capable of thinking philosophically. That we don't ever wonder about the universe, or that we never question the world or what makes it tick. Well, we do, and we do it a lot. Unfortunately, we're underestimated because society seems convinced that we're too preoccupied with parties and social trivialities to think deeply about anything. I'm glad that the Mount didn't subscribe to this belief. I'm glad that it saw the potential young adults like us have, and gave us an outlet to express ourselves and expand both spiritually and mentally. That's what the Veritas program is all about, really-- giving an opportunity for students like us to ask and answer questions about what our purposes are, what we need to know about the world, and what it truly means to be human.

Unless you're a proctologist, a first grader, or a weirdo, I'm pretty sure you don't talk about private bathroom business with others too often. You just... don't. As kids, we're introduced to the concept of TMI- "too much information"- and we hold onto it for the rest of our lives. It's something that's accepted as the cultural norm, and most people never really bother to wonder why human bodies and all their strange processes are so uncomfortable to talk about. In general, bodily issues are just plain... gross. I mean, bathroom business and hygenic habits aren't popular topics of conversation nowadays. In fact, I don't think they ever were. If you don't believe me, try bringing the subject up around others and see what happens. Here's a heads up before you do, though: their reactions probably won't be very pleasant.

In my last Veritas Symposium, my class was given a reading called "The Body and Bathing," which made us think about our perceptions of the human body-- both the young body and the old body. In class, my professor tried to get opinions and thoughts from us by doing the "awkward technique": Masterfully creating awkward silences until someone reached the point where they had to say something to break the sheer awkwardness of it all. I have to say that it's pretty effective, because soon enough students started voicing their opinions and the usual class discussion began to take place. There was mention of naked people, naked old people, having to bathe naked old people... Maybe it's because I'm kind of (okay, very) immature when it comes to that sort of thing, but it did make me a little squeamish. It also got me thinking, though. Why do people link discomfort, and sometimes even disgust, with certain body types more than others? Is it society's fault? The media's? The culture's?

I'm pretty sure that the "awkward technique" will be used a lot throughout this Veritas unit, which focuses on "the body, beauty, and incarnation." Not just because of the whole TMI thing, but because our bodies and our perceptions of them are personal and rarely ever talked about. I'm confident, though, that those awkward silences will be met with many interesting discussions about the physical body and spirituality. And maybe a few nervous giggles on my part. But only a few.

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