BCS Advantage Magazine Summer 2016 - Page 14

Letters to Strangers By Caroline Roy, Co Editor-in-Chief, The Hoofbeat In a 2012 TED Talk, Hannah Brencher told the story of her relationship with letter writing. Burdened by depression in her twenties, she began writing anonymous letters and leaving them in the public spaces of New York City. What started as a coping mechanism turned into a full time occupation. As Hannah blogged about her letters, she gained a large online following and ended up creating a movement of positive, anonymous letter writers. English teacher Adrienne Hollifield decided to make “Love Letters to Strangers” a reality in her own classroom. She had her senior students come up with letters to place around the school. Some contained pick-me-ups, while others offered wisdom, introspection, or an account of the day. “The project struck me as poignant for graduating seniors who are going off alone into unknown places. It’s a way to deal with the loneliness of being human,” Hollifield said. Hollifield used Brencher’s TED Talk to revive the art of letter writing in a way that was easy and tangible. “I was surprised at how lovely these turned out. I wish that we could have seen people picking them up and taking them,” Hollifield said. Before the bell rang one Friday afternoon, the AP English class slipped letters into lockers, bathroom stalls, and library shelves for others to find. Hollifield said, “It’s just a random act of kindness. You have to have faith that you can affect someone in some way. They are a bit of kindness in a somewhat indifferent world.” 12