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Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
When Andrea Moro from the Italian island of Sardinia started a new venture in his adopted country of Spain, he expected success to fall into his lap. Facing up to the unforeseen challenges, he shows how he was able to extract courage from his life.
Several years ago, when I made the decision to stay in Madrid for good, I was looking for a job and found an opportunity to teach Italian at a company. Initially, it was something temporary, but as more teaching opportunities arose, I realized that it was what I wanted to do with my life. It was at this point that an Italian friend and I decided to start our own Italian language school together.
It was a bold move given our lack of finances, but overcoming our fear and uncertainty, we dove in. We had big dreams which made us think that things would be easier than they actually were.
Establishing the school was a challenging process. I had to learn how to start a business and everything that it entails. I had been under the illusion that things would magically fall into place and students would flock to the school. Progress was slow. However, the most challenging part was the responsibility I felt to respond to the trust that people who chose our school were placing in me.
related article From Trauma to Drama by Gerrit Versteeg, Netherlands A language and drama program in Delft in the Netherlands is helping young refugees integrate into Dutch society and discover a sense of purpose. Social exclusion has led many others to leave the country to join the war in Syria and Iraq. In 2007, I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism, and that’s when things started to change. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t trusting myself. I simply felt that I wasn’t up to the task. I gradually began to see that my “limitations” were actually opportunities to extract courage from my life. As I developed myself through my Buddhist practice, I also began to be more creative in tackling my challenges, and this gave rise to new ideas on how to teach.
We gradually made changes, integrating into the courses activities that focused on the unique and interesting aspects of our language and culture: Italian cooking courses, workshops on Italian art and cinema, courses for children and summer trips to Sardinia. The school became a place where people could not only learn the language but also enjoy the different facets of Italian culture. By paying attention to the particular needs of each student and focusing on careful preparation for each activity, it became a place where people who signed up could feel genuinely happy learning the language.
In this process, reading SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s encouragement helped me discover deeper meaning and purpose in my professional life. I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for that, the school would not have become what it is. I can say with pride that our school today serves as a model for Italian language teaching in Madrid.
I feel great joy that I can continue to grow and create value through my work. The contact with my students also allows me to base my life on one of the pillars of Buddhist practice—heart-to-heart dialogue.
My vision for the future is for our school to set the standard for language education, with an ever-improving methodology that responds to students’ requirements. I am inspired by the pedagogical approach of the founding president of the Soka Gakkai, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, to develop an education system in which the happiness of the students is the foremost concern.
In The New Human Revolution President Ikeda writes: “According to Mr. Makiguchi, the creation of value constitutes true happiness. The mission of education is to nurture many people capable of creating value in society and working toward their own and others’ happiness.” I aspire every day to become this kind of educator.
Adapted from an interview in the October 2018 issue of Civilización Global, SGI-Spain.