A Letter from Executive Director Dorota Blumczynska
Over thirteen years ago, I entered a basement classroom at Victoria Albert School carrying my son on my hip as we peeked into different rooms. As soon as I saw the women gathered around the small tables, their kids playing in a corner with a childcare worker, I knew I had found the right spot. I put him down amongst the gaggle of kids and walked over to join the other mothers.
I smiled, they smiled, and I sat down and said, “Hi, my name is Dorota.” The rest is her-story.
I’m not saying I did, but I may have climbed the IRCOM Isabel tower on occasion, and sat there overlooking the magnificent skyline of our beautiful community. Let’s all agree that if I had been there, it was to perform an inspection of the roofing membrane and the ventilation caps- because otherwise staff are not permitted on the roof. Of course, I am not at all qualified to do this work, but sometimes it’s necessary to have a change in view, so it can lead to a change in perspective, and even maybe a change of heart. 🙂
That is really what IRCOM has taught me… that to change one’s heart, to nudge it open, merely requires a change in perspective. How does one change their perspective?
My greatest sadness comes from knowing that very few people- aside from my wonderful colleagues perhaps, our volunteers, and those closely involved with IRCOM- might ever get a chance to experience the world as I have, through and with IRCOM. The world here is unparalleled in its beauty and boundless in its generosity. It’s not a singular relationship, it’s thousands; some lasting a smile, others years. It’s a teacher, repeating one key lesson:
That lesson is one of proximity. Proximity to humanity.
To change one’s perspective requires a change in proximity. It is impossible, I think, to not love one another when we take the time to know and see, to truly see one another. To see with the heart.
In order to respect one another and value one another, care for one another;
In order to create communities and societies that are just, that are equitable, that fairly distribute wealth, that protect the spirit of every being;
In order to realize a world that is centered on peace;
One must get in close proximity to those whom they might otherwise not know, to those with whom they may not have had opportunity to dialogue, to anyone that they consider as “the other”.
When we ‘other’ we dehumanize. And when we dehumanize, we allow ourselves to forget, to dismiss, and to disregard. That is where injustice is born. Distance can render us indifferent, capable of inflicting harm, capable of turning a blind eye.
At IRCOM, our work and our lives merge into one another and the definition of family is widened. We hold each other’s children, help our youth with homework, we sit over coffee and wait patiently, understanding that anyone who is grasping a new language simply needs an extra moment or two to find the words they wish to express. We bring each other into proximity to our hearts.
In the end, it is a choice, a choice between fear and love. And I can tell you from experience that love is by far the more powerful and enduring of the two.
So if I may leave you with these departing words.
Lean in close.
See with your heart.