The work ethic I have seen in my internship in Bosnia is very different than that in the United States. Though people work hard, they also are more social at work and are less frenzied and rushed. My co-workers have taken the time to chat with me and get to know me. They take the time to get to know the program participants at the Center for Health Aging, and participants have become their own group leaders so as to share the responsibility. This also reversed the mentality of “we serve them” to “we all work for each other”. I work four hours a day and when I leave, I know that more will be in store the next day, but I don’t need to lose sleep over it. I think that this difference, at least in my internship, where people are willing to take a coffee break and build relationships before making me hit the ground running is such a great way to work and to live. I actually have the chance to know my organization before I have to try to take on projects to “change it” or “make it better”. I feel like interns in the United States sometimes never know the true nature of their organizations before they are forced to “revitalize it”. But, how can you possibly know what needs adjusting, or if a project even needs to be created, if you have not spent time getting to know your work culture?
My point is, time and relationships and being present in what you are doing is crucial for a good work ethic. This is something that many American jobs do not value and I genuinely value this opportunity in Bosnia. It has been a pleasant surprise to work in this environment and I look forward to the rest of my summer learning how to work in a different way.