Finding Time for Human Rights Pen Pals

In the wake of the U.S. Presidential Election I’ve struggled to find little things I could do that I felt were making an actual difference. I’ve come back to two that feel consistently rewarding and meaningful: volunteering and teaching.

Even before the election I’d started volunteering facilitating an ESL conversation group through the library for people looking to practice their English. It took an more meaning after November 6th and maybe even more meaning as we wait to see how the travel bans, walls and ICE raids play out.

I’ve worked with Mount Hood Community College to help them run a code bootcamp for a couple years now and continue to that, hopefully running a session this spring/summer. In the meantime though I’ve expanded to teaching children programming and coding skills through a local program.

And most recently, and perhaps interestingly, I applied for Human Rights Pen Pals and have finally been matched with someone. I love writing letters to people think it will be a meaningful experience. This past year I became more familiar with the inner-workings of jail than I’d planned by way of a family member and some tragic choices.

This person may have only had a small taste of the isolation those in longer-term incarceration face, but it was enough to show me it’s not a place designed for healing. I know the small notes we were able to pass along to this person were important in their maintaining hope. Maybe this is a chance to share something similar with someone perhaps in even greater need of staving off despair.

You can apply for the Human Rights Pen Pal program here.

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