Welcome to The Veritas Project.
People featured on this series will simply be asked to talk about something, anything, that matters to them. This blog is a combined inspiration from Humans of New York (HONY), and Harvard’s First-Year Outdoor Program (FOP).
I spent my FOP trip last August backpacking with nine other people on the Long Trail in Vermont. Two were rising juniors, leading the trip, while the other eight of us were incoming freshmen. A lot has been written about the magic of FOP, so I won’t spend all the time I could describing how real it is (or maybe I will, some other day).
There was something special about being in the woods, where the ten of us talked about ourselves so openly, in a way I never thought people who had known each other for a mere 48 hours could. In those five days, I became closer to these nine people than I did in months with other people I met, once we were all back on campus. It may have been how the ten of us went five days without showering together, or how we learned very quickly to be transparent about our bowel needs.
But I think a lot of it was the vulnerability and openness with which we talked about ourselves, whether it was sitting together around a campsite at night or chatting one-on-one as we were making our way through a trail: what moments in our past had defined us, when we had failed, what we hoped to make out of our lives and ourselves.
These conversations, which were refreshingly common on the trail, became rare gems once we arrived back on campus. And it isn’t that we no longer valued them. It’s that on a typical day, as we rush from class to lunch to extracurriculars, every minute is fleeting. We’re thinking of ten different things, and don’t make much time to take a break, and simply spend an afternoon talking with someone. Our busy schedules are exciting, and what we spend our time doing is important to us in some way or another. However, it was beautiful to see on FOP what slowing down was able to do for us, when we could just spend all our energy hiking up a trail and getting to know one another.
The Veritas Project will be a place for these open conversations. It will be like HONY in format, profiling many people, and like FOP in substance (minus the BO), communicating what is important to each of us. And the name, The Veritas Project, hopefully captures the goal of the series, as well as the fact that it will focus on the Harvard community, from students to faculty to those in the Square.
I am so grateful that our very own Dean Pfister is the first person to be a part of The Veritas Project. He loves fungi, and you will find out why tomorrow.
What matters to you? If you or anyone you know would like to be featured on The Veritas Project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.