I know the title may come as a shock, but it's absolutely true. While articles are due at 5 p.m., I am on my way to the Lackawanna County Prison by 5:30 p.m. No, this is not some wild college night gone wrong that landed me in prison. I have been volunteering with the women at Lackawanna for about three weeks now. Once I had informed my mother that I would be working in a prison, she was naturally concerned. "You couldn't have picked safer volunteer work?" she said, and I mean, I could have, but this one stood out. The program we do with the women is creative writing, so it fit my interest. I will be working with these girls for six weeks and so far so good.
The first time I went to the prison was just a tour. I have never stepped foot in one before, so I was pretty anxious. After having my ID checked and handed a pass, it was time for us to go in. The interesting thing is, to get to the classroom you have to walk past the male prisoners. They don't see many women and my group is all girls and one guy, so you can imagine how this went. They were rowdy when we walked in and out of the prison. This has continued every week since. There are many wild and inappropriate reactions that I can't help but awkwardly laugh to myself about.
The following week was my first week working with the women. After watching way too many prison drama shows on Netflix, I was nervous. Thankfully, that nervousness didn't last long. The girls came into the room and sat themselves with their friends in whatever groups they wanted. My group consisted of myself, two other girls from school and two women from the prison. This week specificity we were working on blackout poetry. Not only did I get to see the talent these women have, but I learned a lot about them. One of the women writes songs and loves to preform with her music group here. The other woman plans to manage them and has dreams of being an actress. People sometimes forget that prisoners are people too.
Now I am around three weeks into the program, this being my week off. I think it has been such an amazing experience. Sometimes it's hard when it's a Wednesday night and I'm overwhelmed with schoolwork, but I know I have somewhere to be. Taking the time to talk to these women honestly makes my night. I get to see some of the amazing talent they have (believe me it's amazing, I've come close to tears), we get talk about our week and we have some pretty funny moments. I mean, who better to make jokes about committing crimes with than prisoners? I have found the program to be rewarding and inspiring to me as a person and to my writing. I also learned not to judge as harshly. Yes, these women have committed crimes, but who am I to judge someone off of one aspect of their life? I would recommend this experience to anyone. I have learned so much and hope to keep learning more from the program.