This is my second time helping with the Inside Books Project. Like last time, it was a very fruitful experience. The project involves responding reading and responding to letters from incarcerated individuals. It is definitely worthwhile because it offers an opportunity to make contact with individuals who are not traditionally discussed about when addressing service. It is important to remember that these individuals are still people, and something as little as a letter and books can offer something to someone.
As a regular to service, most of my service has been out of the city or abroad. This has rendered me as not entirely aware of the issues that are present in my neighborhood. As part of my experience, I was able to listen to the rich discussions about reentry and how Austin provides or lacks in the provision of resources to accomplish this. This has highlighted an issue that I am aware of - high cost of housing in Austin - and framed it in an manner that I have never thought about. I find this to be relevant because this is our community, and and the issue is real. Furthermore, I am glad to see the grassroots activism that is developing.
It is interesting how turning off lights can have such an impact. During my service, I was part of a small group that was assigned to turn off lights in Painter. I learned about the organization and history of the Longhorn Lights Out program and how many electronics are left on. On that note, I have never really thought about how many electronics are left on and their environmental impact, up until my service. It was a great way to learn how to conserve by doing something as simple as flicking a switch and how to create an organization by joining the dark side.
Great time interacting with the different years of ULN members while arranging care packages for homeless individuals. I think this was a great way to relieve stress, get in the holiday spirit, network with different ULN members, and create a positive impact for the community.
This was definitely an interesting experience. I would say eye opening is the true description. For this event, I had to read letters from prisoners and see if I could gather books relevant to their requests. Going into this, I had a negative view of prisoners, perhaps even subordinate. However, reading those letters was greatly humanizing; one prisoner even shared the same literature tastes as me. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about prisoners now because of trying to balance morality and humanity, but I can certainly say that my views are not the same as the ones I had before doing this event. Overall, I highly appreciated this event because it challenged my thoughts and allowed for a different view.