In preparation for the Serbu book club project, five Inside-Out alumni at the University of Oregon participated in a mini facilitation training hosted by Melissa Crabbe, Inside-Out Assistant National Director.
Over the course of two meetings, we learned basics of group fascilitation and discussed many of the techniques, questions, and potential problems that arise when conducting Inside-Out-style programs. We brainstormed issues that might arise through working with youth instead of adults on the inside, and worked together to troubleshoot our classroom practices. Melissa led us in a discussion about diversity and the difficult conversations that could arise.
In addition to the practical and much-needed information we gained from our six-hour training, we also had a chance to bond as a group of leaders. Inside-Out has an incredible model of self-leadership for trainings, so that we spend most of the training session imagining potential questions or issues, and then brainstorming solutions. Melissa was the facilitator of our collective learning process, which also provided a model for our own class meetings.
As our group grows over the coming year, we hope to hold future trainings for the outside alumni to be trained in leadershp techniques and program ideology and practices. We also hope that someday in the future these trainings might be led by alumni themselves, and that the students in the trainings might eventually include the incarcerated youth who participate in our book club.
All future plans and dreams aside, we entered our first class as leaders with some practical and exciting new skills and group unity. We are so lucky that Melissa is willing and available to help us! I look forward to sharing stories of future training programs in the future.
The Inside-Out Alumni group at the University of Oregon has started a new Inside-Out style project: a book club at the local juvenile facility.
This summer, four UO students and ten youth met weekly for a five-week pilot project book club. We read comic books together: the outside students identified some graphic novels appropriate for the setting, and the youth selected The Ultimate Spider-Man for the summer book.
Our discussions included topics as varied as revenge, dealing with loss, gender issues, what we would do if we had super powers, relationships, and personal responsibility. We also used ice breakers and activities to keep everyone engaged and to facilitate the classroom experience.
This pilot project will hopefully evolve into an ongoing and permanent project. The UO-Serbu partnership has already generated a significant amount of enthusiasm on both sides. We hope that, in the future, we will have an equal number of inside and outside participants.
Can’t wait to see where this leads!
Inside-Out creates a dynamic partnership between institutions of higher learning and correctional systems in order to deepen the conversation about and transform our approaches to understanding crime, justice, freedom, inequality, and other issues of social concern.
Inside-Out brings college students together with incarcerated men and women to study as peers in a seminar behind prison walls. The core of the Inside-Out Program is a semester-long academic course, meeting once a week, through which 15 to 18 “outside” (i.e.: undergraduate) students and the same number of “inside” (i.e.: incarcerated) students attend class together inside prison. All participants read a variety of texts and write several papers; during class sessions, students discuss issues in small and large groups. In the final month of the class, students work together on a class project.
Inside-Out is an opportunity for college students to go behind the walls to reconsider what they have come to know about crime and justice. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for those inside prison to place their life experiences in a larger framework. Inside-Out creates a paradigm shift for participants, encouraging transformation and change agency in individuals and, in so doing, serves as an engine for social change.
Through college classes and community exchanges, individuals on both sides of prison walls are able to engage in a collaborative, dialogic examination of issues of social significance through the particular lens that is the “prism of prison.”
Check out the national website at http://www.insideoutcenter.org/home.html