In Search of Freedom for Excellence (And Why an Internship Can Help Here)

Interview with Adit Barbullushi, a WYA Europe intern

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Just the other day when I was visiting WYA Europe Headquarters in Brussels, an idea came to my mind. While I was seeing the guys who were staying on the internship there, and while I was talking to them, I realized that almost all of them are going through some kind of transition in their lives. They had to rethink everything from scratch. Some of them were studying the thing that they didn’t necessarily like, others just quitted their job to come to Brussels, and the rest were just thinking about what to do next in their lives.

For me it’s very intriguing when people at one point start to live consciously, and when they start to think about their lives in terms of the calling and striving for excellence. So, I start talking to one of them. Her name is Adit, and she is WYA Europe intern for 3 months now. I ask her about her life.

She starts explaining: “Roughly speaking, there are three major chapters in my life. The first one is linked to Shkoder, Albania, my birthplace. The culture and traditions in the city I was born gave me my best character traits and also my worst ones. I am loyal, socializing, stubborn and proud. From my childhood years, I knew that Shkoder was the best place to be born in, but not necessarily a place I wanted to confine myself to. I have always been fantasizing about the different places in the world I would like to live.” While she is articulating this, I simultaneously understand that it is not just places she is fantasizing about, but much more. “I am a dreamer”, she admits, “I often look through the window and let my imagination go”.

At the age of 12, her brother started his medical studies in Rome, and one year later her parents decided to not split the family and to join him there. It was not a problem for her, since she knew the language at the age of 5. The second part of her life started here. Rome, one of the most antique and fascinating cities of the world, taught her through his greatness, how to be empathic, assertive, curious and easy-going. “In Rome I finished my secondary and high school as well as the University studies. I chose to study Economic Sciences and Business Management at “Sapienza” in Rome. I chose to work with numbers, next to my strong empathic side of character, to be able to develop and combine different personal traits and nuances in my later professional life.” Combining empathy with numbers, that seemed as an interesting combination.

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Adit with the participants of the Emerging Leaders Conference 2016

At last, the third part of her life is the one that she’s going through right now. “It seems that the feelings that I used to experience in my childhood are back, like the passion for innovation, the need to be useful and have a positive impact and fight for things I believe in.” WYA arrived exactly in this third phase of her life. “Reading through job and internship offers, the first concept that caught my attention was human dignity, so vast and full of meaning. It was what I was looking for. I started to read about the organization and the first step, in order to get to know more, was applying for the internship. I did this twice actually.”

She had also the opportunity to attend the European Arts Forum and meet in person the WYA staff members and supporters. “The environment that WYA offers is young, dynamic and multicultural. The thing I most liked is the great feeling that you are left with afterwards: the belief that you can influence your community through your experience, youth and energy.”

She proceeds: “In fact I didn’t expect to be the communications intern, but this helped me to improve a part of me that I had the least experience with but which I was ready to further develop and take to another level. It is totally different from my previous jobs.” In fact, I now hear that she left her job to come here. While she is speaking, I see that while she is in the internship in WYA Europe, she is also rethinking her life.  She wasn’t satisfied and she understood that something needs to be changed. “When I started the internship I was really excited, because it felt like a new chapter was opening in my life. Today I am learning a lot and I get inspired every day thanks to this dynamic and inspiring environment.”

So, in fact, she came here to work, but also to dream. And it seems that dreaming is also what this internship is about. You come here, you work with inspiring people and inspiring environment, and you study the Human Person and the nature of its freedom. Certified Training Program which all interns are asked to undertake, does precisely that. You study Human Person, Freedom, Solidarity, Culture – all these essentials we rarely have the opportunity to think about in the fruitful way.

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When I asked Adit to tell me one idea from CTP, she immediately exclaimed: “Freedom for excellence.” I didn’t understand in the beginning, but then she added: “The concept of freedom, since it is a broad concept, if not understood properly and not leading to excellence, can be wrongly applied. Indeed, the correct understanding of the human freedom is essential to the proper functioning of a multicultural, multi-religious society so we can connect with our ability to choose wisely the things that truly make for our happiness and for the common good.”

She tells me about the example of the piano used in CTP. “It is like learning to play a musical instrument. Anyone can bang away on a piano, but that is to make noise, not music, and it’s a barbaric, not humanistic expression of freedom. So if we don’t respect each other’s culture or religion we can’t learn to live peacefully together. We can’t learn to play the piano. At first, learning to play the piano needs really hard work from our side. Often the piano exercises seem like a constraint, a burden. But as our mastery grows we discover a new richer dimension of freedom: we can play the music we like, and we can even create music on our own.”

Now I started to connect the pieces. The internship program and the personal story Adit was telling me about was all about freedom for excellence. Young people at one point in their life start to live consciously. And what they become conscious about is that their lives are made for excellence. They stop to rethink their lives and many times they understand that their decisions from the past were often made by inertia. Now they come here to rethink, and to use their freedom to strive for excellence. And freedom is not just about making any choice, it’s about making good choices.

Adit explains this better: “Freedom, in other words is a matter of gradually acquiring the capacity to choose the good and to do what we choose with perfection.  Through prudence, justice, courage and temperance, freedom is the method by which we become the kind of people our noblest instincts incline us to be: people who can build free and virtuous societies in which the rights of all are respected and protected by law.” Finally, it seemed to me that Adit was also talking about herself and this internship: she was gradually acquiring the capacity to choose the good direction for her life, and to do with perfection the thing she will eventually choose to follow. Somehow I was sure that everything will turn out well.

Written by Timo van Meertens, a freelance journalist and occasional contributor to the WYA blog.