I was born and raised in the colonized archipelago of Puerto Rico that has been under US rule since 1898. The struggle for independence and socialism back home has led thousands of Puerto Ricans to become political prisoners. One that marked my early teenage years was Oscar López Rivera who spent 36 years behind bars. Oscar helped unite our whole country and taught us that it is never too late to fight for our freedom. One of the main reasons I applied to UIUC, was to join the EJP and practice Oscar’s and many others’ example of making education a liberating practice.
Sadly, the pandemic has made it incredibly difficult for us to maintain deeper relationships with our EJP students. In the beginnings of COVID-19, it was very frustrating to see that my desire to learn at a prison practically vanished just a month after I got clearance. However, human beings have the amazing capacity to transform new realities that abolish oppression to embrace love. During these pandemic times, I started collaborating with the newsletter team by doing Spanish translations. With the EJP alumni that recently joined the Language Partners program, we have been able to rethink our pedagogical practices as critical teachers and create a series of lesson plans for when we return to Danville.
Moreover, EJP has been a place that in the past year has allowed me to be myself with my imperfections, committed passions and truths. Even in the most inhumane living experiences that the political disaster of COVID-19 revealed, it is truly remarkable to see so many loving and caring people that are willing to make a difference. Thank you EJP Universe for allowing us to SEED better futures.