As you know, I am in an independent study this semester entitled Writing In The Prisons. During this time, I will be visiting a local correction facility and teach creative nonfiction writing.
In order to prepare for this all I had to do was register my course online so I get credit, and once I begin, I have to sign in, and potentially have my bag searched unless I leave it in the car. All I have to do is look nice and professional while I’m there.
I am also doing other volunteer work this semester with children, where I go to a local school to teach creative writing.
To prepare for this, I had to sign a volunteer sheet stating that I have never been convicted of a crime against a child, a form stating I cannot take pictures of the children, a formal background check, another form stating that I have never been convicted of child abuse, fingerprints, and I also needed to get a tuberculosis shot. There is also a strict dress code that I need to abide by.
Do you see the difference in how I have to prepare for both of these? Because I sure do.
Why is it that I had to go through all these processes to work with children but minimal processes at best to work with inmates who are already incarcerated, and in the process of rehabilitation?
What does it say about our society as a whole when we’re willing to do everything to protect our children, but provide minimal effort to protect those who are behind bars?
And before this gets too political, I need to clarify that I take both of these opportunities very seriously, and I look forward to working with both groups immensely.
I just find it a bit odd that we as an overall society are less caring about those willing to change, but overprotective of future generations. Shouldn’t we care about both equally? In my case, both are receiving similar opportunities to learn creative writing. They will be taught similar concepts (although the maturity will differ), and it is supposed to be an interesting learning experience for all of us.
So why is it that when I tell people about my independent study (which I waited 2 years to take), the response I get is that it will not be safe, and that I shouldn’t go?
Yet when I tell people I am working with children, they are overwhelmingly happy for me, and are excited to see what I am teaching them.
I am so excited and honored to have both of these opportunities, but I feel that both groups must be treated with the same respect and honesty before I can feel I am doing the best job possible, and that they are all receiving something in return.
Because in my eyes, everyone has a chance to gain something from this. Including me.