Last week there was a one day workshop I attended that was very interesting. In my 11 years in prison I’ve never attended anything quite like this. Let me explain.
“Arts In Prison” is a Kansas not for profit that sponsors all types of classes at the prisons here. They do all sorts of classes. Basically any kindof class from educational, to arts, to theator. Anything someone would like to do to donate their time and skills to inhance the lives of prisoners can be sponsored through arts in prison. Examples are Shakespear plays, an 8 week Philisophy class sponsored by a philisophy professor (I’m currently taking this), Arts classes with donated art supplies sponsored by a volunteer from a the Kansascity Arts foundation, a current events class, and countless others. If your interested in getting involved with something like this, “Arts In Prison” is the place in Kansas to contact. The Lady who single handedly runs this group, her name dropping my mind at the moment, is a wonderful and dedicated individual that assists us in so many ways.
Recently there was a flyer in front of our chow hall that said “professional writers workshop.” It said there will be several outside volunteers coming in to do a one day workshop on creative writing. I am currently taking English Compisition 2 from Donnelly College at the facility, so I figured I could use a few tips.
When I attended this workshop, the volunteers started to introduce themselves. They explained that they were all attendind a “National English College Professors get together” in Kansascity, Mo. There were approxamitly 3,000 english teachers at this confrence. Well, a group of these teachers have experience, either currently, or formally, working inside prisons in the USA. One women was from New York City working at the prisons there. Another was from California. They shared a little of their experences teaching in those parts of the country. There stories were unique, but held a common message. They all spoke highly of teaching in an invironment that is so highly stigmatize. One of the women in attendance even went as far as saying that the best english work she has seen has not come from her students on college campus, but from the students she taught at the prison facility.
All five of these women in attendance and one man seemed to agree that prison education is exteamly important. They all seemed dedicated to assisting in ways they could to solving the mass incarceration problem that strikes our great nation.
Personally, I feel their dedication to come into a place like this, assist us in helping ourselves and ultimately helping the community through bettering those that will someday return (between 98% and 99% of the prison population will return to the community one day) is one of the best ways possible to help.
The workshop consisted of story telling, listening to anothers story and then retelling what we heard. It also consisted of reading a short story and giving feedback. The workshop concluded with writing a short story, reading it in front of the group, and choosing to have it published on one of the volunteers prison writing website.
I think classes like these offered through Arts In Prison should be part of all prison systems. They are educational, impactful, and most of all fun! I enjoy them very much and am thinkful each and everytime these volunteers come in and give freely of their time. Until next time, stay positive and have a great day!