Zagreb – Amsterdam
As our time in Croatia comes to an end, we reflect back on our life-changing experience. We were welcomed into the country with “radical hospitality”, unlike what we have witnessed elsewhere. The people of Croatia, a young democracy set in a country with centuries of history, hold their rich traditions deep within their hearts and enriched our visit with their willingness to embrace our curiosity. Many of us embarked on this destination with anxiety, which slowly faded away as we established confidence and friendship with our king (Goran – our driver) and shepherd (Ines – our guide). We have established a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other.
Discussions focusing on cultural differences recognized a consistent theme throughout our visits over the past several days. Croats focus on producing quality agricultural products versus quantity. With this perspective they also embrace a “slow food” concept, which was difficult for some of us to appreciate…especially after that third hour of dinner. The dedicated work ethic that we witnessed comforted us, a similarity that we all related with.
With a fresh perspective on life, we return to our farms described as “remote-controlled agriculture.” We have a deeper appreciation for our own government system and are truly blessed to come from the United States. We often times get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our lives that we lose sight of the opportunities we have in the States. There is a certain level of irony that our trip took us to the city of Dubrovnik, which was the very first international territory to officially recognize American sovereignty.
Our trip to Croatia certainly was not without some difficulty. No one could have expected that the worst weather pattern in nearly 70 years would arrive at the same time we would. But as any good leader knows, you have to be flexible when roadblocks present themselves. Our group took these challenges and made the most of the moment. It is only fitting that our flight from Zagreb to Amsterdam was delayed over two hours after a major power outage knocked out the computer system of our airlines. Like the challenges before, we made it safe and sound.
Having a few hours of free time in Amsterdam can be overwhelming for some. Lucky for our group, we happen to have an executive director born and raised in the Netherlands. Olga was gracious enough to give us a trip down memory lane with a nice, albeit chilly, guided walking tour of Old Town Amsterdam. It was a real joy seeing the happiness on her face as she showed us where she once spent time.
Signing off from Amsterdam.
Adam Ulbricht, Heidi Peterson and Russ Derickson