Editor's note: The ACE (Another Chance at Education) Think Tank is a group of Inside-Out alumni ('inside' and 'out'), as well as instructors, that meets bimonthly inside Oregon State Penitentiary to expand Inside-Out's presence within that prison. ACE is currently preparing to train new Inside-Out instructors who will participate in Oregon's first Inside-Out instructor training, to be held in June. Headed back to OSP for the first time since Inside-Out for the ACE meeting was the continuance of the journey I started there about one year ago. In the beginning, I went as a student. A graduate student who, for the first time ever, stepped foot into prison and was asked to begin learning. Back then, much of our time was spent learning in groups, trying to understand how each of us was interpreting our books and processing our lives. At the ACE meeting for the first time, I was very excited to know that this kind of learning was going to continue. It was wonderful to see the guys I had know previously and meet new folks for the first time. We began like most Inside-Out classes and did the wagon wheel to learn more about each other.
I spent a good amount of time catching up with the guys I already knew. I also spent a lot of time just taking it all in--watching everyone’s smiles and listening to the laughs.
It’s good to see the opportunity exists for the guys 'inside' to, outside the classroom, to process further on education and learning. There is a definitely a joy that comes with sharing that space with all the 'outside' and 'inside' folk.
I do wonder how we might use the space to bring about new ideas and projects that can be worked on both 'inside' and 'out.' Because everyone in the group has already been through the class, perhaps this is the place to ask—what happens after Inside-Out?