How do you partake in a political ecosystem that you’re physically removed from?
What actions can you take when it’s simply not possible to join a rally, or when you’d like to do more than just send a tweet into the Twitter-abyss?
The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States is just around the corner. Thousands are protesting President Elect Trump across the U.S., chanting things like “Not My President” and “No Racist USA.” Many have taken to social media to virtually protest with hashtags like #ImStillWithHer and #AmericaElectsABigot.
Being abroad during this tumultuous time can leave you feeling helpless or disconnected. However, distance does not have to mean apathy or inaction. We are trying to work through our anger and disappointment and find ways to be active U.S. citizens regardless of our geographic location.
Give yourself time to process the grief you might be feeling.
As cliche as it sounds, self-care is imperative during times like these. There’s no “one-size fits all” when it comes to tending to sadness, so take the time you need to grieve properly. Continue to eat well, get restful sleep, engage in physical acvtity, focus on an activity that brings you genuine happiness and reach out to loved ones.
Connect with like-minded people.
Seek out other expats, or likeminded locals who share your sentiments. Sometimes, surrounding yourself with people who share your attitudes may possibly help you feel less alone.
If you’re in a remote area, or are too new to a new country to know where to turn, social media groups can provide that sense of belonging. Recently, my wife discovered Pantsuit Nation on Facebook, which has provided a huge sense of relief to us online.
Donate money, time, or even skills.
There are a plethora of organizations already fighting to protect civil liberties and promote social justice. Donate funds to the groups who take donations, or raise funds for a cause you care about on mediums like GoFundMe.
In addition to money, you can also offer to donate a skill like SEO, web design or social media management, which can be done remotely. You can reach out to these organizations and ask them what they need.
A few resources you may find useful:
- Planned Parenthood provides women with healthcare, education, and activism.
- Campaign Zero advocates to end police violence in America. Fill out this 5 minute survey to learn how to get involved.
- ACLU is a nonprofit that upholds the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all by the Constitution.
- Friends of the Earth is an international network of environmental groups spanning 74 countries.
- Border Angels is a nonprofit focused on migrant rights, immigration reform, and the prevention of immigrant deaths along the border.
- EMILY’s List is a political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office.
- The National Immigration Law Center fights for the rights of low-income immigrants via litigation, policy analysis and advocacy.
Combat normalization in the media.
Groups in the U.S. are already bracing for a sharp spike in hate crimes, but the surge can also come in the form of speech.
If you see an outlet normalize Donald Trump’s violent, bigoted, racist rhetoric, call out the media. Telling them that kind of behavior and coverage is inexcusable. Hate is loud, so we must be louder.
There’s a fine line between trying to sway someone and educating someone. You shouldn’t expect to convert someone to your “side” when it’s equally as unlikely that someone will convert you to theirs.
Instead, arm yourself with knowledge so that you’re prepared to offer relevant, educated, and respectful discourse. Relatedly, speak up if you hear or see divisive, hurtful, or hateful language online.
Hear me out, or rather, hear International Volunteer expert Zahara Heckscher out:
“The learning that can occur during a volunteer experience can indeed be part of long-term transformation. It starts with transforming the volunteer himself or herself. Volunteers learn how different another culture can be, and the vital essence of humanity that exists in every culture. They learn intercultural skills — how to teach, how to write a proposal, or how to plant a tree. I believe that all these learning experiences helped to make volunteers the kind of people that can create long-term change — whether through returning overseas in a professional capacity, bringing ideas from overseas back to help develop their own communities, or getting involved in different kinds of social change at a deeper level.”
Local volunteerism may lead to cross-cultural understanding, an increase in social awareness and maybe even a sense of global responsibility, all things that the U.S. seems to be lacking right now as a nation deeply divided.
Blog about experiences. Post about it on your FaceBook and Twitter. Talk about it in your Snapchat and Instagram captions. Make yourself known for being well-rounded and knowledgeable about international issues. By doing so, you are also building up your reputation as someone who provides insightful opinions, and you will be more likely to be listened to when you post about socio-political insights regarding domestic issues.
Change your habits.
To say Trump is not an advocate to the environment is an understatement, but there are small things you can do to help assuage climate change.
Look for ENERGY Star products, insulate your home (or rental), use air conditioning and heat sparingly when possible and seek out local recycling options. Ditch the car, walk more, bike more, take your city’s local transportation. Eat local, shop local, and limit red meat and dairy consumption.
Don’t give up hope.
Hillary Clinton said it best during her gracious concession speech:
“Let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear: Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet, and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.”
Remember this: you have a voice, so put it to good use.
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