Creativity at the heart of Iwona Blasi’s work and life in Ireland
2017-04-01 17:28:55 -

By Michaela Miller

Creativity is important to Iwona Blasi, both in the workplace and her personal pursuits.

Born and raised in Poland but an Irish resident for more than a decade, Blasi has worked at the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) in Dublin for the past two years. As of February this year, she has been promoted from an accreditation supervisor to the role of innovation manager, a role she enjoys every day.

“I’m very excited for this position, it is something new,” she says. “It allows me to be more creative when making policies.”

Originally from Bialystok, Blasi received a Master’s degree in social sciences at Warsaw University. But even before graduating, in 2002 she was already travelling back and forth between her home to her cousin’s in Drogheda, 50km north of Dublin, working in a pub during breaks to support her studies.

“I never really had any negative experiences of being a foreign person when I worked in a pub,” she recalls. “I had a few sexist experiences but I do not think they were related to me being from a different country, but simply of being a female behind the bar.”

‘I felt more at home’

It was during that time that Blasi decided she wanted to live in Ireland, and she made the move official in 2006, relocating to Dublin.
“It felt more at home here than in Poland,” she says. “The move to Ireland has changed my life and attitude completely. It wasn’t just the move itself but the people I met here that shaped me as a person and made me a more confident, aware, and a real person.”

Before the move, Blasi describes her old self as “more dogmatic”, but in Ireland, she could live her life with more freedom to be herself.
“I realised that I did not have to follow the patterns created by my parents and other influential people in my life,” she says. “On the other hand, I knew it would be tough to make living in a different country without family support.

“I was aware that I would have to prove myself to be able to succeed and break the label of being a foreigner and that I would have to work hard in order for people to see me for who I really am.”

Blasi started working as a sales and marketing administrator at the Irish Management Institute (IMI) in 2007, moving on to various other companies before landing her current position at IACP.

‘Art is a part of me’

Today, aged 35, she lives with her two young sons and husband in Dublin, where she “looks forward to going home to them every day”. 
Blasi met her husband on the social network MySpace during its heyday in the 2000s. “He came to Ireland and he loved it,” said Blasi of her partner, an American from Texas with whom she shares a love of art.

Blasi herself has practiced painting and photography since she was very young. “I love art in any shape and form and it is a part of my daily self-care,” she says. “I think it is a part of me and my self-expression and I need to do it in order to be happy.”
More than a hobbyist, Blasi has exhibited her work throughout Ireland, besides running art and music events – and she even does wedding and family photography.

It all adds up to a positive experience, though she admits there are a few things she would change about life in Ireland. One of those would be increasing State support for low-income working families specifically, instead of catch-all benefits for the unemployed.
“I have been in this situation myself and it was more profitable to be a jobseeker than a white collar worker, which is  totally absurd,” she says.

Focus on life

Nevertheless, Blasi feels Ireland is a place where one can pursue opportunities. When she first spent time here, she says, she knew no English, but picked it up quickly on the job. Her advice to others moving to Ireland is to embrace the culture around them.

“I would say to them to not be ashamed to use your language but try and assimilate with the culture you are living in,” she says, adding that she also wants to encourage immigrants to “build up their lives” but not just in a professional sense.

“People coming here tend to focus just on the financial side, but they don’t focus on living their lives,” she explains. “I’m lucky to say that at this point in my life I feel fulfilled and successful, with my job and my family.”

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