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Training Reflections

The following are statements that trainees and Think Tank members wrote about what they have gained from the Inside-Out trainings:

“…I now understand why... the type of subject taught is irrelevant. That is, while the academic material is important, it is not about conveying the information to the students. Rather, it is about getting students to unfold and create, first, a relationship with themselves. By doing so, that is when students will have the ability to connect with both themselves and others on a deeper level, which is why the academic subject is irrelevant. Essentially, what I will take from this training is that despite how scholarly or academically knowledgeable I may be, it is not my job to push my achievements and knowledge of my specialty toward the students. I am only there to facilitate that deeper human connection, and that is essential.”

“The amount of practical information that I have gained is overwhelming, but that is not the most valuable thing. Over the course of this week, particularly when we visited Graterford, I rediscovered a part of me that I haven’t seen in 25 years or so. I’m surprised at the emotional turmoil it has generated. But I also feel like I have found a community that I did not know existed. It is a gift to be surrounded by people who understand what I am saying when I talk about prisons…people that I don’t have to explain everything to. And the training has stirred up an intellectual excitement that I have not felt in years.”

“This day [at Graterford] gave me the chance to learn more about the Inside-Out program and how to implement it. The interactions between the insiders and outsiders were very interesting to observe because they seemed to be so natural and flowing – like everyone had known each other for weeks and not just hours. From a more personal perspective, this day gave me the chance to contemplate the stronger and weaker aspects of my teaching style and how these aspects might play out when I try to implement an Inside-Out class in another institution. Before this day, I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed by all the possible directions that a class might take when I try to implement it in the future, but the insiders with whom we interacted today made me feel more confident that this is a great program, that I can do it, and I really want to do it.”

“I will seriously examine the process involved in my own teaching and how I approach it. I need to think more about having the courage to 'let go' a little more. I think that the inside students may have a powerful effect on outside students by humanizing issues (substantive) and the educational process. More aware of the differences in how men and women communicate and bond, and I’ll think more about this particularly as an educator. I’m encouraged that a genuine college course can be done inside.”

Inside-Out Michigan Training 2011

“It would be impossible in this space here to fully describe what I have gained from these last few days together and how much I can feel a huge transformation on the horizon for me, both inside the classroom and out. I feel like an egg that is almost ready to hatch…almost… More specifically, I will take away a newfound faith that I can facilitate a learning environment that is very different from my previous experience, but still consistent with my most deeply held beliefs. I also take away particular concrete skills and resources that are too many to mention here. I have met new colleagues with whom I intend to collaborate further and with whom I hope to become friends. And, perhaps most importantly, I will take away a renewed faith in the student in all of us – and in my particular students.”

“Through my participation in this training, I have gained a greater sense of hope, love, and a brighter future, if not for myself, then for those I love. Being in this training is like assurance that the struggles will continue and we (prisoners) have not and will not be forgotten. I also feel like I’ve gained more family, for Inside-Out is my family, and those who are training are now also my family.”

“There’s no language adequate to describe what I’ll take with me today. I’m glad they don’t weigh us on the way out because I’d surely be arrested as a jailhouse smuggler, heavy as I am with hope, dreams, confusions, frustration, anger, love. I’m taking with me so much more than I brought. I can only hope I’m leaving a few things, too.”

“I will take away the experience of meeting so many impassioned people doing good work. I have had some of the most provocative questions presented to me. I have been a part of some of the most inspiring discussions. I will take part of everyone with me into every classroom, formal and informal, throughout my life. I have been moved in a very profound way.”

“Today, I walk away feeling as though I’ve grown ten feet taller. This new growth is because of a wonderfully amazing group of men who have touched me with their voices, words, gratitude, generosity, warmth, and intelligence. Today, I walk away feeling blessed, honored, privileged, and challenged to do the work that needs to be done. Today, I will take with me an unforgettable experience that has made quite an impression on my life. Today was a gift. Today confirmed that no prison, jail, or wall can suppress truth or a spirit meant to soar, flourish, and shine....Moreover the Inside-Out program is a testimonial to what can be done when one acts on his or her passions and ideas.”

“A feeling of optimism as big as the sky. A challenge of my deepest insecurities – those limits I feel over and over in my life – I see them as parts of me that are going through a transformation, no matter how slow and intensive. Without seeing and feeling them, they won’t transform. I find that I have projected my sense of self in every one of my interactions, and I feel that in this experience, people offer me back to myself in a new way. This is an amazing community. Like a flower growing out of a crack in the concrete.”


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