MENTORS

Simona Bot

When I was a student at the Medical University in Timisoara, one of my favorite books was the Citadel, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. His philosophical essays enabled me to escape the harsh reality we lived in. One of the essays gives me the shivers even now, when I remember it. It was a story about two friends, both gardeners, who drifted apart. After a lifetime of silence, one receives a letter from the other, saying: This morning, I cleaned my roses. He answered after a couple of years: This morning, I cleaned my roses, too. With only a phrase, the two friends proved they had preserved their relationship throughout the years and in spite of the distance between them. Their friendship enriched and gave meaning to their lives constantly.

The Blue Heron Foundation came into my life in 2011, when I met Stefania, an exceptional and inspiring human being. I immediately realized I wanted to become a part of the Blue Heron adventure. My mentees, Ana and Emilia, are extraordinary young ladies. I keep learning something from them all the time and, most importantly, I learn something about myself through them. They are the friends I had been waiting to welcome into my life. It feels as if we’ve known each other all our lives, even though we have never met face to face. I have opened my heart, my life and my family to them. We talk every week, we meet on Skype, we write, we think about one another. It is incredible for me to witness their strength of character, the beauty of their soul, their desires and aspirations. I look forward to the day we will meet in person and I imagine us taking long walks and speaking for hours. In my heart, I no longer have three, but five daughters! It’s an experience that transforms me, enriches me and brings so much joy into my life.

Simona Bot, M.D., Los Angeles
Mentor since 2011

Alex Bâcu

I grew up the only child in a modest family of engineers from a working-class neighborhood in Bucharest. I was fortunate to benefit from substantial financial support and dedicated mentors that allowed me to study at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Those years were not only a period of soaking up technical knowledge for a future career, but also a journey of self-discovery transitioning into adulthood. I was delighted when I was accepted as a BH mentor and I cherished the opportunity to help someone going through a similar experience. This is how I met Andrei Zaharia, an exceptionally talented young man from Piatra Neamț. With admirable ambition and effort, and in spite of the disadvantage of being raised as an institutionalized child, he succeeded to be admitted to the Faculty of Environmental Engineering, at „Vasile Alecsandri” University. Our mentoring relationship started shyly but strengthened and deepened in time. We managed to coordinate a meeting, during one of my visits to Romania, which greatly helped our communication (he finally called me by my first name!). I am very glad to have met him and I hope to help him as much as I can, in his future both as a professional and as a person. 

Alex Bâcu, Senior Equity Analyst, Neuberger Berman New York
Mentor since 2016

Ildiko Magyari

When we humans put our emotional, intellectual and financial resources in service to those who need them the most, we are capable of forming the strongest bonds, connecting at many levels and developing friendships – even if the two parties are separated by thousands of miles. This is what I learnt from meeting Attila — the boy from a small Hungarian village in the heart of Transylvania. We were matched right before the start of the pandemic, so we navigated his first three years of undergrad via WhatsApp — celebrating his accomplishments with great joy and managing his obstacles during marathon phone calls. And just like that, the boy turned into a grownup man who will be getting his computer science degree in a few months. We finally had the chance to meet in person this summer when he visited me in my hometown in Transylvania. It was a meeting of two old friends who had been through a lot together, and consequently, had grown together.

Ildiko Magyari, Ph.D., Economist, New York
Mentor since 2019

Dragoș Ursu

My relationship with Razvan can be defined as a dynamic partnership with support from both sides. I always tried to give him both advice and encouragement. It really helped that Razvan was an extremely receptive young man, a fact that allowed us to gain trust and respect for each other. The benefit was clearly mutual because our friendship has continued outside the Blue Heron program. 

Dragos Ursu, Structural engineer, Los Angeles
Mentor since 2016

 

Andra Ardeleanu

I have been Alexandra’s mentor since January 2018. We worked – then, as now – in the area of Human Resources, a field in which Alexandra wanted to work after graduating (she was in her first year at that time). We met in Bucharest, the city where we both live.

I felt an immediate connection, an instant “click” with her. We fit very well in terms of temperament, personal style, even lifestyle preferences – more independent and willing to try out different experiences, to travel. Over the years, in addition to getting together to discuss her academic/professional progress – where I tried to guide her as much as possible – we discovered cool places in the city and attended plays and concerts. It was my pleasure to introduce her to the cultural kaleidoscope of Bucharest, which at that time was a new city for her. Alexandra was also welcome at my home and witnessed the changes in my life – 1.5 years ago I moved in with my partner. I was with her throughout her undergraduate years, stood beside her when she received her Master’s Degree, and was right there when she took her first job. I believe she has understood what she needs to do for her career and is on an upward path. Currently, we both work in the area of International Recruitment.

I was very moved when Alexandra invited me to a meal at a restaurant – already an adult, on her feet! It gives me pleasure to bring her postcards from my travels around the world for her collection and I hope that soon we will take a trip together!

I am very happy for her evolution, for me she is like a younger sister and will always have my support. Even when time passes before we manage to see each other, it’s a stable connection which has become more nuanced with the passage of time. I am very proud of everything she has achieved so far and I believe that many good things will follow in her life. I am grateful to Blue Heron for the opportunity to meet her and share with her not only my expertise in the area of Human Resources, but also my life experience. 

Andra Ardeleanu, Talent Acquisition Manager, Bucharest
Mentor since 2018

 
 

Adina Dabija

It is a true blessing for me to be Dumitra’s mentor. Dumitra is an inspiration to everyone she interacts with, including my children. She is a fighter, a visionary, and an exceptional student who always gets the highest grades. But above all, she is a beautiful person, full of kindness, cheer, and compassion. It is a pleasure for me to meet her on holidays, to talk on the phone, read her monthly diary, and discuss her future projects. Thank you Blue Heron Foundation for bringing Dumitra into my life. Our relationship has brought me great joy and made my life more meaningful.

Adina Dabija, New York
Licensed Acupuncturist; Board Certified Hypnotist; American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioner
Mentor since 2015

 

Anca Chiritescu

The Blue Heron mentorship program has given me unique opportunities throughout the years. It started with my interest in helping Romania, even from afar, but has developed into something more profound than I ever imagined. Getting to know these young people, learning about their life struggles, their courage, guiding them as they grow, has made me more in tune with myself, more in tune with universal values. My two former mentees, as well as the current one, are very connected to the world around them. They know how to move with the times, and each of them has taught me a lot, helping me grow as well. We are not only mentors and advisers, but also guides and confidants…receiving the experience of a lifetime! 

Anca Chiritescu, Psychiatrist, Los Angeles
Otilia M.’s mentor

Florentina Marcu

This year marks 10 years since I have had the privilege of calling myself a Blue Heron mentor. My initial intention was to use my knowledge and life experiences to support the students I would work with, by listening to them, understanding them and helping them achieve their dreams. These things happened, of course, but I didn’t expect that I would be the one learning from them, that my own life would become richer and more complex. The life stories my students have shared with me over the years and their resilience in the face of adversity have been models of strength and life lessons for my own ups and downs.

My current mentorship with Sandra started just two weeks before the declaration of the Covid pandemic. We went through uncertain, unusual times together, full of anxiety and unanswered questions. But having this close relationship across the ocean, be it virtual, made us both stronger and we were able to channel our attention and energy to the beautiful things around us, to the important goals in our lives. Sandra is a special person, a beautiful individual and a warm soul, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to know her. I always enjoyed reading her monthly journals and I was happy for all her successes and the ways in which she managed to overcome obstacles and problems. I am convinced that Sandra will have a successful life because she knows how to make her own happiness.

Florentina Marcu, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Los Angeles
Mentor since 2013