“In our lives, we encounter many different people. Some create trauma for us, but some bring us love, joy, and wisdom. Irwin is my friend with a big difference in age. I met him in one of our DSW dissertation oral exams. At that time, I began to fall in love with both his personality and academic accomplishment. I always believe what we have done in academics actually reflects our mind, heart, and body. When we planned to organize an online international conference on practice research in 2021, I strongly recommended inviting him to be a keynote speaker. He accepted and gave a presentation on the topic of virtual friendship in practice research, which let me get to know him better and love him even more. Soon after the conference, he wrote to me and said he thought we could be friends. It is an amazing journey of becoming friends but never meeting.
We write to each other. We share our academic work, our religion, our life with students, our happiness and suffering, our anxiety and frustration, and our inner stories, which are seldom talked about with others. He mentioned to me that he was writing his life story. I am overjoyed to see that the book is coming out. I told him that it can become a scholarly reading for my students when I teach narrative construction in qualitative research methods.
Everyone has a story. Every story has its mark on historical times. Therefore, each story is both personal and public. I often tell my students that a social worker is no different from the clients; he is a person in society and history, shaped and oppressed by the values and consciousness of society. If social workers themselves cannot see the causes of these oppressions and injuries and break free from the shackles of mainstream ideology and culture, how can we have the strength to help others? How can we extradite others out of the darkness? How can we heal other people’s wounds?
Irwin and I have never met each other face-to-face. We are virtual and “visual” friends. But I believe one day we will meet each other somewhere in the world. At that time, I’ll greet him by saying “Hi Irwin” like an old friend. May God bless Irwin’s new book!”