An Open Letter To The Dog I Spotted On Campus

*Originally published on The Odyssey by Molly Reff on April 26, 2016

Dear Furry Friend,

I’m sorry to interrupt your stroll. It’s a beautiful day, and despite the stresses of schoolwork and classes to get to, I couldn’t help but notice as you were happily walking along the campus. After my friends and I settle our excitement, we make our way over. I kindly ask your owner if I can pet you, and I try to hide back a joyful yelp as he or she says yes. My friends and I quickly gather around, and your tail begins to wag as we pet you.

 unnamed-e1490229895144.jpgThank you for giving us a few minutes of your time. You probably don’t realize it, but your wagging tail and ever present smile can turn a college student’s day around. Thanks for visiting our campus. I’m glad you and your owner appreciate the beauty of it as much as the students do. No matter the weather, students trek back and forth along the same path every morning, and it’s nice to see you come around and change our routine up every now and then. Be sure to thank your owner again tonight.

Thanks for also being so humble. You don’t ask for anything, just a soft pet in return for your curious sniff. You make people smile endlessly without anticipating a prize in return. It’s nice to know there are still humble people, I mean animals, around.

I love how happy you are to see everyone that walks your way. Even if I don’t get the chance to pet you, know that I am so glad you’re here. I really am. You remind me of my own dog. I know! We just met, but it’s true. Seeing you helps me keep going until I get to see my dog next month. I talk to my parents every day, but I can’t talk to my dog! I can’t ask how her day went or pet her fuzzy head. When I’m homesick, you come along and give me a pick me up. I can’t wait to get home and spend time with my family, but until then, I’m glad surprises like you can make us all smile.

Thank you for teaching me to appreciate the little things. It sounds corny, but we can’t forget it. As you walk, you like to take your time. You stop, say hi to every person that smiles at you, and continue to stroll. You smell each and every flower that lines our campus sidewalks, and you bounce happily along as the wind brushes against your soft fur. You indirectly teach busy and self-concerned students to take a step back and look at the world around them.unnamed.png

Amongst the humility, the soft fur, and your appreciation for those around you, you’re simply a cute animal that I love to see every day. My friends and I will talk about you days after our meeting, and I hope I’ll get to see you again soon. Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed your stroll as much as I did.

Sincerely,
College student.

Serving Others and Ourselves

When you think of Spring Break, what comes to mind? For many students, it involves time with friends, enjoying the warm weather and stepping away from campus. Spring Break at Villanova University allows students to do just that, but the best part is how friends, warm weather and trips off campus can be used to serve the greater community.

Beginning in their first year at Villanova, students can spend their breaks going on service trips, either mission-based or with Habitat for Humanity. Our Campus Ministry organizes trips, prepares students for their experience and guides groups along the way. Students can work in locations as close as Arkansas or North Carolina and as far as Nicaragua or Panama. Through a simple application process, students can spend their vacations giving back to communities far and wide. Not only can students participate in break trips again and again, but they can also take on leadership positions.

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Caroline Manion ’17 and Liz Roller ’17

“Based on the relationships that I made on my first trip, I wanted to foster a meaningful environment for another group of Villanovans. I led a trip junior year with my best friend to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and I can’t verbalize how much that trip meant to me.” – Liz Roller ’17 

Every student has the potential to make a difference, and Villanova wants to embrace each individual’s skills and talents and put them to good use. Students have worked on projects like laying the foundation of a home, building siding and decks and improving irrigation systems! Service trips are always popular because of the impact they have, both on the communities in need and on the Villanova students who participate. Students are able to grow and reflect during their trips. Whether it’s your first trip, or you’ve lead more than one, you’ll form great bonds with those you work with, creating friendships and memories that will last beyond your years at Villanova.

“I had a great time on my trip and probably laughed more in our free time, playing card games and just talking. Every day ends with a reflection, where everyone sits together and discusses different topics, ranging from social issues to how the day went. It’s an awesome learning experience that leaves you with a lot to think about when you’re back home!” – Athul Rajesh ’19

As one of Villanova’s foundational values, service is easily accessible here. While some of Villanova’s service events occur within the greater Pennsylvania community, break trips are an example of how our university strives to make a difference just down the road and halfway across the world.

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Marion County, South Carolina

“Break trips are a way to be a part of a community that’s different than your own, see their struggles and work to make a difference. They’re especially important for Villanova because of the focus on helping communities and families in need, and because they serve as an opportunity for intellectual reflections and discourse with those who may have different views.” – Anish Vora ’19

As your next vacation rolls around, think about how you could use your time to help someone in need. When our classes and activities inspire us to ignite great change, service trips are the perfect outlet to do so. So when you think about the warm weather and adventures you’ll have next break, consider incorporating service as well. We hope that Villanova University will inspire you to break out of your comfort zone, encourage you to make a difference and welcome you to a community that can better yourself and those around you.