After coming across our t-shirts and story, Alicja Borzyskowska, connected The Orenda Tribe with her school, King's Academy, in the aim of partnering up to have a bigger impact.
A high school student, Alicja, started her own charity, lived in different places across the world and this is only the start of her incredible journey.
Learn more about Alicja, our brand ambassador, through our interview with her.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your upbringing?
I was born and raised in Poland, Europe, in a beautiful historical city of Gdansk on the coast of the Baltic Sea. When I was little, through nights spent with my dad studying Bedouin maps and testing my first cameras in the shipyard of my hometown, I decided I want to be an explorer.
Over the years, together with my family, I have been raising money to discover the world’s people and to meet its children. As a young European girl, I have been growing up with Gambian tribes, dancers in Nairobi, dinners in Masaii families, and studies of ivory routes through Dakar.
My experiences as an international volunteer and young journalist have helped me to understand better the complexity of the problems we encounter globally and allowed me to get involved with people representing various cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds.
I have completed my education on three different continents, currently graduating from high school in Jordan. In the Middle East, I work with the Syrian refugee children, help build houses for local families, study the Arab language and culture, and report on the life of women in Islam through my website www.alicjabeyond.com.
I value education beyond anything in the world, am a huge fan of wild adventures, chocolate-covered dates (with almonds!), and good literature.
Tell us about your experience with social work and how it all started?
My experience with social work started when as a young girl, together with my brother and sister I got involved in providing help for the annual donor event for the patients of cancer in Poland, called “Wielka Orkiestra Swiatecznej Pomocy”. My siblings and I had been since raising money for people in need, preparing the Christmas packages for local families from less privileged communities, and assisting in various voluntary events organized in our city.
Beyond Poland, Africa has become my second home. Over the years, together with my family I have visited my peers in various parts of the continent, bringing aid to schools and learning about the needs of communities.
In 2015, I have founded a charity “Schools on Equator” with aim to provide equal access to education for all children of Africa, I am now working actively on extending its functioning and reach.
My first alone voluntary mission took place in South Africa and Botswana, I was fifteen. Tracking wild animals and studying the dynamics of African community affected by poaching industry and poverty, have been eye-opening experiences for me.
I have developed my skills as a journalist, now combining social work with international reporting.
Currently, I am working on projects in the United States – “Pottstown Community Donor Dash Races”, Jordan -accompanying the UNHCR and “Habitat for Humanity” in building houses for local families, and Turkey, where as a member of the “Give a Hand” Organization, every summer with friends I organize educational camps for the Syrian refugee kids in Istanbul.
Describe to us your first encounter with art that you remember?
My earliest memories of encountering art take me back to the afternoons I used to spend with siblings and cousins in my aunt’s old garden. She was a sculptor and almost every afternoon after school, she would host for us little workshops in her back yard. I remember us, little kids, playing around old marble figures, making molds with our little hands, and posing as models for beautiful plaster monuments that would later be displayed on the streets of our city.
Often times, my aunt would sit us all at the potter’s wheel and beautiful little cups and bowls we made would then serve our families as kitchen supplies. These were great, cheerful times which later inspired me to become a sculpting artist myself.
I started evening classes in drawing at the art school in Poland and last year in the United States I opened the first exhibit of my work, featuring black-and-white sports photography and sculpture.
What do you think is the role of art in society?
Art to me is a defining element for any society and I think it is impossible for humans to survive without it.
Art is what shapes us as individuals and what brings us together as communities.
Art lays out the very origins of our communication with one another, of understanding beyond our differences and owing to our common identity as human.
I am continuously inspired by how complex problems can be made simple thanks to artistic visualization, and how bridges between communities can be built and cherished through appreciation of beauty.
It is wonderful to think that through art each and all of us can find our purpose and lose ourselves at the same time.
From my perspective, especially now is this great time when we can be active participants of a more accessible, popular, and more diversified art culture than ever before.
If through art we can change the way we see things, the things we look at change. This perhaps is one of the most powerful weapons we all can use to shape the societies, and the world, we want to live in.
Can we make change through art? How?
Of course we can make change through art! I think that the best way to answer “how?” though, is to ask “why?”
If we find out what is it that we want to change, what is it that we want to make better – the answer of how to do it will come to us in an instant.
All people carry a different perspective on the surrounding world that is shaped through their unique life experiences. This is what makes the art of each one of us so special.
We are all artists! Whether we create a workshop, set up a gallery for local community, end up directing a world-famous movie, photographing people, or painting a classroom in our neighborhood - if we find a purpose to our creativity, amazing things will happen.
Now, as you know you are an artist, ask yourself - why do you want to change the world? And do it.