Getting started at COPE

After working with Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) for only two weeks, I already have quite a lot to report! My second day was the launching of our annual awareness-raising campaign “Not my crime, still my sentence” so I was able to jump right in to help get the campaign going. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the rights and needs of children affected by the imprisonment of a parent amongst policy makers and members of European Parliament in order to effect positive policy change. I encourage everyone to go to the campaign’s website to learn more!

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The banner for COPE’s 2016 campaign

Now for a bit more information on my internship itself. COPE is a European-wide initiative on behalf of children with an imprisoned parent. COPE’s mission is “to safeguard the social, political and judicial inclusion of children with an imprisoned parent, while fostering the pursuit and exchange of knowledge which enhances good practices, and contributes to a better understanding of the psychological, emotional and social development of these children.” In order to achieve this mission, COPE partners with a myriad of NGOs, associations, and individuals concerned with children’s rights and European prison systems to promote new ways of thinking and to boost awareness. COPE additionally partakes in research efforts and has numerous publications and videos concerning the rights of children with incarcerated parents.

Drawing from a child with a parent in prison

Our offices are located in Montrouge, France directly outside of Paris in a shared office space with another child-focused organization called Relais Enfants Parents. There are between three and five people in our office depending on the day (which is really just a room), so it’s quite an intimate working space! Although the core staff is small, I am impressed with how organized and well-run COPE is. My position at COPE varies a bit from day to day, but my main focuses thus far have been doing research and writing copy, as well as creating a dissemination strategy for our legal rights videos. I will also assist in editing and putting together our semi-annual journal in July. With all of my combined projects I expect my writing and networking skills will improve.

Finding an internship in Paris was somewhat difficult, and I am very grateful that I found COPE. My approach to finding an internship this summer was a bit unorthodox; instead of finding organizations online and sending off my resume and cover letter, I decided to use Linkedin to see what kind of connections I could foster. I found every Tulane alum who lives in Paris and sent him/her a message introducing myself and asking if he/she knew of an internship or organization that could be a good fit. I was really surprised by the amount of positive responses I received. Not only was I able to secure my internship with COPE (a friend of a Tulane alum works here), but I also got a job teaching English to an alum’s children. I highly recommend using Linkedin to other students who are looking for an internship but don’t know where to start. You never know what kind of connections you can make!

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