Written by: Rachel Berdan
A couple of years ago, I was a newcomer to London. I was looking for a new way to get involved with our community. Through a twist of fate and perfect timing, I learned about a program that was coming to London and knew I had to to get involved. I was instantly drawn to the Circles mandate, to simultaneously create a support network at a personal level and create change in a bigger way (in the community, in policies, in systems). And, it all started from a foundation of building intentional relationships.
As a Circles Ally, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow in ways I hadn’t considered when I came aboard. The Bridges Out of Poverty workshop that kicks off the Ally journey is a great eye- and mind-opener, that our perspectives are informed and influenced by our experiences, and privilege plays a part in the experiences we have access to.
With that understanding and awareness, I feel very self conscious writing this piece.
But joining Circles was part of a bigger personal shift I was making toward finding my passion and my purpose. Through that journey, I am increasingly aware of my own privilege and am sensitive to finding the balance between celebrating the value of the Circles community and the successes of the people within it without contributing to an othering dynamic or congratulating myself for the growth and success of inspiring people around me. It isn’t easy to find the words to articulate why Circles has been such a meaningful place to spend my time and energy.
But here is what I do know.
I have learned a lot about what’s important to me from the time I’ve spent with the Circles community. My life is richer and fuller with more different perspectives I bring into it, and I am inspired by listening to and growing with this community of people who speak from a variety of experiences. I appreciate being part of a community that starts with what is new and good, and doesn’t shy away from big conversations that lead to plans that then lead to change. I am amazed at (and sometimes infuriated by) the things that we collectively and systematically overlook, the connection between accessing dental care and a confident interview, to barriers to entrepreneurship for people who have the drive to create their own work but not the capital (or access to it).
Joy is being there to celebrate other people’s positive moments, from the big breakthroughs to the small wins.
Being part of Circles has allowed me to connect with our community in a way that I wasn’t before, and for that, I’m grateful. In the last couple of years of listening and learning, I’ve gotten OVER my discomfort with my own privilege and am learning to use it to include and amplify where it matters.
You can help change the conversation by sharing what you've learned with others.