Here I am, living in a rural Serbian village, which is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Budapest was somewhat of an adjustment from U.S. living, but this is a whole other level. Things I took for granted in Budapest have become glaringly absent, like not having a Starbucks around the block when I need a quick fix on a challenging day.
Just a few weeks ago in the youth hostel, Will and I wondered what we’d do for dinner when our one and only hot plate blew its final fuse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful there’s food in the fridge – but I was really hoping for a cooked meal that evening. The choices here in Stara Moravica are a little limited… there’s the Hamburgeria, a kiosk that serves burgers (just burgers – that’s it – no fries, no drink), the Hunters House (which says it all and is a very long walk), or the bakery for a wiener in a roll. (Now you know your options when you come to visit us!)
You see, in my world, I’m making some big sacrifices to be here for my new school. I mean, it’s one thing to visit Stara Moravica for the weekend, but it’s a whole different game living here. And, as you may know, teaching isn’t my day job. I’m doing this to serve my commitment to make a difference. So when I heard that one of the students was complaining he wasn’t getting what he wants from the classes, I was a little ticked (a non-technical term for pissed). My first reaction was to pull the student aside to have a chat about what I was doing for them. I mean, come on, I’m living in rural Serbia, providing free training for them, and the closest Starbucks is over 100 miles away… they should basically be kissing my feet!
Of course I didn’t do that, though.
Since the students are at varying levels, I’d implemented what I thought was a brilliant idea; instead of teaching the traditional (boring) way, I created mock companies, appointed CEOs to each, and divided the students so each company’s skill level was equal. The best way to learn is to teach; so the idea was to give them group assignments to enable the more advanced students to teach the others.
I’d made my complaining friend a CEO. But he didn’t want to teach. What exactly he wants, I’m still not sure… but stepping back from the situation, I learned a few things:
First, I think we entrepreneurs (like my distressed student) are sometimes guilty of making up our minds about something and not seeing the gifts right under our noses.
Second, we make it all about us… what we want, what we need – and that’s a sure recipe for suffering.
It’s so easy to see these things in other people.
So my student will continue doing whatever he’s doing. But for me – instead of complaining about everything I don’t have here in the village, I’m going to look for the gifts right under my nose, which means shifting my focus to what truly makes me happy: my school – not what I’m eating for dinner.