The last six weeks have been extremely exciting for several reasons. But before leaving this country, I want to share the three most significant feelings that came up to me during the last days.
With no doubts, life is different here. It is quite carefree but at the same time less comfortable. However, it helped me to realize that the standard of living in Europe should never be taken for granted. I have seen children attending training sessions for several weeks with the same shirt – every day. I took a shower here, sometimes twice a day – but never with warm water. And I got in touch with people that were obviously suffering from a disease – but they could not get a treatment although they would need urgent care. These are just some of various impressions, but they might be sufficient to show that we tend to have an unreasonable lack of humility in western societies. Of course, when I will arrive back home in Germany, I will have to adapt again to a lifestyle which is driven in many ways by a powerful economic machine – this system is often ruthless but it also leads to an incredible achievement of prosperity. Nevertheless, the responsibility for personal values, ethics, and decisions in life can only be taken on by oneself. My experiences here will help me for sure to always keep in mind that being humble and complaisant is not about being soft or weak – but about having a heart filled with grace.
Leaving is never easy. However, it feels somehow different this time. And I think this is mainly related to the following reason: on the one hand, most of the people here deserve a better life than the one they currently have – but on the other hand, it is not easy to really make a meaningful difference when trying to provide support. Many problems here concern such basic requirements, which makes it very difficult to figure out where to start. No matter, how much you can contribute, some people will always be left behind. And a sustainable approach might include more than just money, as smart ideas and solutions cannot simply be purchased. That’s why, I think the only real engine of progress can and will be the smartphone, including especially its ability to access the internet. Since nowadays, you can learn almost anything for free and use the possibilities of social networks to connect with people all over the world, this will be a game-changer. However, the technological infrastructure is not (yet) developed good enough here. I would give a lot if I could stay connected with the kids I got to know. I would love it, to share my learnings and being a mentor to them. And I would be very happy to see them developing their full potential in the future. But I am leaving today, knowing that I will probably see most of them never ever again.
New experiences every day, that was true for the last six weeks. Basically, time abroad is always exciting – often even way more than life at home. And that’s why the more important it is to go home with the right feelings. It happens over and over again, that people tend to lose all their positive emotions within days after they got back – mainly because they cannot build up a satisfying level of gratitude and get caught up by comparing themselves to other people’s impressions on social media. I want to avoid this by no means. And I think writing it down straight away – both, my feelings as well as my learnings – helps me a lot in this regard as it allows me to capture and preserve my own impressions. In the long-term, this will probably be worth more than any picture can be, because it is not just a snapshot in time. For me, on a personal level, gratitude results very often from being connected with great people. And that has been the case here a lot of times. No matter whether when training every morning with the cute 10-year old kids, when sharing a room with my coaching mate from the UK, when having inspiring tequila-parties with medical students from Italy or when discovering the open-minded culture of Ghana by talking with people from this country. It were moments full of joy, I won‘t forget that. Life is good.