The words we say express what we think, what we are, and what we believe in. At the CEU Cardenal Herrera University, we have set ourselves the task of reclaiming some of these words – words with senses that can improve society. In these times in which people talk about there being a loss or crisis in values, we believe that words have a greater worth than ever. And it is important to turn these words into actions.
Reclaiming a few words may seem trivial, but it is a beginning. And we because we believe that small gestures matter, these are the six Spanish words that we want to give real meaning to again: tenacidad, propósito, coherencia, generosidad, mérito, and escuchar. Some of these have close counterparts in English – others less so. Let’s see what they are.
In English, this would be a “purpose”, a “goal” or an “aim” – it is the thing that makes what we do meaningful.
To have a propósito means that you are not just doing something for the sake of doing it. It means that there’s a motivation – a goal – for what you are doing. There’s a rhyme and reason to it because you have principles to guide you. When these principles are positive rather than negative, they can give your life real meaning. It is only when you find your purpose – your propósito – that you stop drifting and you find out who you really are.
Let’s reclaim propósito because having a purpose makes you stronger. A worthy goal gives you hope.
Coherencia transmits two closely related concepts:
“coherence”, i.e. when a group of things have a logical relationship between them; and “consistency”, i.e. when people behave in a way which corresponds to the principles or ideas which they claim to have.
Coherencia is about backing what you say with action. Some people think that coherencia is a weakness because it makes you predictable, yet the people who have coherencia stick to the values they have and they strive to fulfil them. And that makes them strong. Being coherente in life is not easy, because you have to stick to your guns and be consistent in what you do.
Let’s reclaim coherencia. Let’s create a society that recognizes the value of people who are coherentes.
Escuchar – listening – is about paying attention to what you hear.
Paying attention enables you to understand other people. Only those who listen can then analyse and reflect on what they have heard. Listening enables you to capture the real sense of a particular idea, instead of only focusing on superficial aspects of it: doing so enables you to detect any attempt to deceive. We need to avoid reacting to our emotions or sensations. If we listen, then we can speak rationally.
Let’s reclaim escuchar. Listening encourages thinking and thinking encourages freedom.
Generosidad – generosity – is about wanting to help.
And it’s also about wanting to share.
Sharing knowledge, sharing time and sharing opportunities – all of this is generosity. Being willing to put the interest of others before your own is also generosity. Generosity is always offered, never imposed. A fair society is a generous one. Generosity is the antithesis of individualism. It’s the opposite of exclusive self-interest. It’s about rejecting ‘me, me, me’ as your outlook on life.
Let’s reclaim generosidad. Let’s work for a society that gives rather than takes – a society that is full of meaning, rather than vacuous.
Mérito refers to the personal qualities which make someone worthy of praise or of a reward.
It can also refer to the recognition given to someone who performs a laudable act.
Mérito can only be achieved through hard work, through perseverance. Mérito cannot be gained by someone handing it to you, or by paying for it. Mérito is all down to you and what you do. Mérito cannot be achieved by doing nothing – you have to deserve it.
Let’s reclaim mérito. Let’s create a society in which those who achieve mérito are held up as role-models to be admired.
Tenacidad has a close English counterpart in “tenacity”: those who have this quality are determined to achieve their goals. They are not easily deterred – they won’t give up.
To achieve any personal or professional goal requires determination, encouragement and the desire to challenge oneself. A society which makes us believe we have rights to everything merely because we form part of that society cannot be a good one. In that kind of society, people will give up when they meet the first obstacle. Those who think they can have almost anything while doing almost nothing delude themselves.
Let’s reclaim tenacidad. Let’s build a society that teaches us that rewards only come through hard work. Let’s make society stronger.
An example to follow
Carly was a girl from Arizona who would listen, rapt, to her father when he told her stories every night about his work. He was a nurse and she always admired him for the care and affection he showed to his patients. Maybe it was this powerful example that made this girl set herself a propósito, or goal: to be a nurse. Years later and almost 8000 kilometres away from her home, Carly is now one of the more than 2.500 students who come from other countries to study at CEU UCH. And she did not forget her propósito: she chose to study the Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
A natural dreamer
When she was just 15 years old, Ami Bondía decided that her dream was to work with Alejandro Sanz. With this as her aim, she studied Journalism at the CEU Cardenal Herrera University and took small steps, achieving objectives along the way, until she achieved her aim and became the artist’s press officer. For Ami, the key to achieving your dreams is to have a clear propósito: you can only get what you want if you know what it is.
A life experience in the Philippines
A trip to the Philippines changed the lives of Raquel and Jorge, two Medicine students. Their lecturers gave them the opportunity to take part in a volunteering project in the Philippines which would involve attending to the healthcare needs of the country’s poor. This volunteering mission, called Medipinas, demonstrates the education in values that students receive at the University. It is an example of coherencia in action: it shows that we remain true to our principles of producing graduates of real value at an intellectual, professional and human level – people who are capable of making a major contribution to society.
Making the invisible visible
Committing to something involves demonstrating coherencia and striving for what you want, for what you believe in. The University is committed to working for the improvement of society and we try to focus our efforts on achieving this. For this reason, researchers of ours like Dr Pepe Solves, a lecturer on the Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, work hard to raise awareness regarding rare diseases. More than 3 million people are affected by such diseases in Spain and making the general public more aware of them can help us to understand the difficulties faced by sufferers and help them integrate better into society.
Sometimes, listening is the best way to help others. Vicente is an elderly resident of Alfara del Patriarca who used to suffer from loneliness. The local council set out to help him by creating a social volunteering program. One of the volunteers was Anouk, a student on the French stream of Veterinary Medicine at CEU UCH. Now, thanks to this initiative, Vicente and Anouk have a close relationship, almost as if they were grandfather and granddaughter. The magic of listening – escuchar – and knowing that someone is listening in return has put a smile back on Vicente’s face.
Schools for everyone
Sara and Sofía will soon be qualified primary school teachers. Although they are still at university, they are already working to make the kinds of schools that they dream of a reality: inclusive schools. Many schoolchildren have special educational needs and this is why we need to ensure that trainee teachers are prepared for the demands they will face in a diverse educational environment. These teachers of the future are learning to listen – escuchar – so that they can pay attention to the children most in need.
Doing our bit to improve the world
Vets for Africa is much more than just a volunteering project. It is an act of generosidad and an example of what we take veterinary medicine to be. The Vets for Africa team, made up of lecturers and students from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, has been active in developing countries in Africa for some years. The volunteers offer their time and skills in order to enhancing the nutritional state of the population by means of improving livestock production.
It’s not easy to find time to help others in the midst of our hectic day-to-day life. So, it’s even more praiseworthy that Dentistry lecturers and students should donate some of their time to volunteer at the clinic of the Fundación Odontología Solidaria. Patients at the clinic include children and adults who are at risk of social exclusion, with the aim being to improve their oral and dental health. In a few hours, the generosidad of the volunteers with their time and skills is such that they can put a smile back on their patients’ faces – people in real need.
Being the best – that’s the mérito that Carmen, David, Inma and Ernesto have achieved, along with the other students who have been awarded a Special Recognition Prize at their graduation (Premio Extraordinario de Final de Carrera). The great and unstinting effort they have shown to achieve this is also extraordinary. All of them have performed to an excellent standard during their studies, and now a brilliant future awaits them: they have the right academic training and attitude to achieve any goals they set themselves. That’s why they are true role-models.
Recognized by the profession
Rosana Crespo and Ana Talens are CEU UCH Journalism graduates. Since then, they have built careers in different media organizations, giving everything for their profession. Their work has recently been recognized by their peers, receiving the “Journalist of the Year” and “Most Promising Journalist of the Year” awards. What are their méritos? What is it that makes them worthy of the awards? Their hard work every day in the profession that have chosen.
Objectives which seemed unobtainable
For the children with a disability who form part of the junior paratriathlon team at Club Deportivo AVANT, physiotherapy has formed part of their day-to-day lives for as long as they can remember. By taking part in the triathlon, this therapy becomes playful, fun and eventually, a healthy habit that they have. The desire to challenge themselves that is instilled in them, the tenacidad they show in their efforts, their hard work and the support they receive from student physiotherapists and lecturers from CEU all help to ensure that these children can achieve objectives which previously seemed unobtainable.
Achieving the best result in the Valencia region in the assessment at the end of the junior doctors’ residency period, known as the MIR, is not down to luck or chance. It is a result of attending years of lectures, undertaking hundreds of hours of practical training, and devoting time and effort to prepare for the exam. Héctor Manjón, a CEU Medicine graduate, has shown us that tenacidad is the key to achieving great things.