From Ana Davila, a junior Social Work major at Niagara University:
When applying to college, I wanted service and Catholicism. Niagara University fit everything I desired, and I felt as if God was pushing me toward NU. Since being at Niagara, I have had many opportunities to fulfill and pursue my Vincentian value as well as receive education that truly does “make a difference.”
Niagara University constantly portrays their slogan as “Education That Makes a Difference.” I am now a junior at the university, and I can vow for this statement’s accuracy. Through Niagara University, I have had numerous opportunities to use my education to make a difference. The most prominent way that this happened for me was in early February when I was volunteering at the Saint Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen. I volunteer most weeks at this soup kitchen, and I have come to know and recognize many of our guests and vice versa.
At the SVdP Soup Kitchen, we serve “restaurant style,” which means that our guests come and sit down and we bring their meals to them. It is a luxury to be waited on, and we try our hardest to fulfill that love for our guests as Saint Vincent did for his. Through this experience, I have had many opportunities to talk to and get to know many individuals, one including a man who is deaf. I had never talked to him before that evening at the soup kitchen. I went to ask him if he wanted seconds on the soup we were serving, and he pointed to his ear indicating that he could not hear. Without hesitation, I used my knowledge from taking an introduction to American Sign Language class to ask him if he knew sign. The way his face lit-up when he realized I knew sign language was unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
In my sign language class, the main point that my professor emphasized to us was that many deaf people don’t get the opportunity to communicate every day. Being a person of hearing, I have never had a serious problem with a communication barrier unless I leave my familiar surroundings (which is not very often). I take communication for granted and interacting with someone who does not have that ability really tore at my heart. This man was so excited to have someone who could understand him that he asked me to sit down when I brought him his soup, and he proceeded to tell me his life story. We discussed how he lost his hearing, what he went to college for, what he dreams for his future, and so much more. It was a beautiful thing to watch him sign with such enthusiasm and joy. Two other Niagara University volunteers who knew sign language as well eventually came and joined our conversation. Although I have only taken an introduction course and could not pick up on everything he was saying, I could not help but bask in the goodness of our God and the path that lead me to that moment.
If it weren’t for my admiration for Saint Vincent de Paul and Niagara University, I never would have been able to sign the word “soup” and create a memory that will forever stay near to my heart. #IamVincent