My Time in Prison Part DeuxApril 2, 2012 —
I’ve now been volunteering at the Cayuga Correctional Facility for a little over 2 months, and I’ve loved every second. Creating new and fun ways to engage the students has really helped shape me as a student but also has changed my career path. Before volunteering with the Cornell Prison Education Program, I was not sure that I wanted to be a professor, but now I find myself loving teaching and the high that I get when a student finally understands something.
Last week, we had the students compete in a spelling bee. This idea came to me and the other volunteers on the car ride over, but we didn’t seriously think that the inmates would get into it. We were wrong. After having written an essay and gone over math for almost 2 hours, the inmates were eager for anything that was fun. The second we divided them into teams, they all started getting really competitive and eager for an opportunity to be right. Probably the most shocking part of the spelling bee was how badly their spelling needed help. This kind of shows what kind of life these people have had, all of my students haven’t completed high school, which was why they were taking the GED class. Spelling, something I thought was so natural and easy, wasn’t so for people who had not had the education I considered to be normal.
Overall though, I still get this amazing feeling leaving the prison, that if only for one night, I helped someone other than myself. In college this kind of high is hard to come by, since we’re all so obsessed with our own success. I even now find myself looking forward to my weekly trips to Prison, something that I never thought would happen considering the butterflies that erupted in my stomach the first couple of weeks. I think I’m going to end all of my pieces by once again urging any students to participate in this program since we’re lucky enough to have it at all.