Writing Letters for an NGO

Writing Letters for an NGO

I am so grateful to be interning with Free Muslim Association Inc. Center for De-radicalization and Extremism Prevention. Free Muslim association is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with a direct aim of cleansing the name of Islam from any act of terror, discrimination, or hate speech carried out on the name of religion by local, national, and international terrorist groups.

 

Free Muslim believes that it is important to distinguish between what Islam is and what terror groups consider Islam to be. As an intern, my work at the NGO involves conducting analysis on the root causes of violent behavior regionally and internationally, and offer topic-based research to think tanks and educators.

 

My typical work day usually involves working at a desktop, and of the many tasks that I have to complete at work, I love to write and sign letters! For the past several weeks, I have been writing letters to senators, congressmen, and embassies on very important issues.

 

 

TWC intern communicates with senators via letter

 

The process of writing letters is not an easy one. To give an example, I had to write a letter to senators who approved of Trump giving Saudi Arabia money for weapons. The first thing that came to my mind was "Where do I even start?" With any given task at my internship, I feel most comfortable doing research first, even if I have some knowledge about the topic. On this topic alone, I spent about an hour doing research. I researched senators who supported Trump’s decision and why they thought it would be a good idea. Then, I researched the senators who opposed Trump’s decision.

 

After I was done collecting information, I was able to formulate an outline. Having an outline structure works best when you do not really know how to approach a senator. The reason I say this is because knowing how to use words to convey an idea is powerful! In international relations, the Copenhagen school identifies verbal communication as securitization of the speech act. The speech act is the key when a securitizing agent (i.e. the state) tries to convey that troop movements, migration, or environmental degradation can be socially constructed as a threat. Before anything can be perceived as a threat in the international system, a state needs to convince the audience of a potential threat. I like using this example because it shows how meaningful words can be.

 

Although writing letters to congressman is not nearly as threatening, I have to be very cautious of my language. My supervisor always advises me to use diplomatic language, which can be difficult. On issues that I am most passionate about, it is extremely difficult for me to remain neutral and objective to all opinions. I have learned to get the point across, without creating a hostile environment.

 

After research and outlining the letter, I also spend a lot of time editing the letter. I get help from another intern to make sure that the language is not offensive in any way. Once I have gone through these steps, I get to sign the letters!

 

I love the work that I do at my internship. Writing letters for the NGO makes me feel powerful and worthy of a higher purpose. Not a lot of people go around trying to fix the world’s problems, but it is a nice feeling to know that at the end of the day, I have helped many individuals who face the threat of extremism and terrorism. I can speak on behalf of those people through the letters and I am their voice here in America.

 

I remember a few years back, I called my aunt who lived in Portugal at the time. I asked her, "Tia (aunt) how can we change the world when there is so many things going wrong?" She said to me "Do not worry. Change is small. All you have to do is get the message out to one person, and that person will tell another person, so on and so forth."

 

I believe that I can change the world, one letter at a time.

 

Read Kassy's previous blog posts

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