Prison Project enriches students’ and inmates’ lives

by Jiyoung Song

12 Feb 2013

The Dartmouth

Community service was a big part of my high school extracurricular activities, and I’ve heard several students say that they really want to get involved in a volunteering project on campus — the only question is, which one?

The Tucker Foundation offers several service opportunities, one of which is the Prison Project. Categorized as an education program, it brings together students and inmates at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor to facilitate positive interactions and opportunities for enrichment.

The current chairs of the Prison Project are Damayanti Desai ’13 and Kevin Kennedy ’13. Kelley Bloomer ’14 will be joining Desai and Kennedy in the spring.

Although the Prison Project’s underlying goal is always to bring two very different groups together who would otherwise not have the chance to connect, the nature of the work changes depending on the needs of the facility. Prior activities include offering financial service courses and tutoring the inmates so that they may earn high school diplomas or certifications.

Recently, members of the facility have expressed a creative interest. As a result, Prison Project’s current project is a creative writing course in which both students and inmates write about a particular prompt and then discuss their work with one another.

In conjunction with this creative project, the Prison Project is looking to create an anthology of the students and inmates’ works. By compiling their different perspectives on similar topics, the Project hopes to give the inmates a voice and open up readers’ perceptions of the larger community.

Another hope for the near future is to collaborate with “Telling My Story,” a women’s and gender studies program that sends students to correctional facilities to give inmates a chance to express themselves through theatre. The Project hopes to create a wider network of students involved in work related to education and incarceration.

The Prison Project not only assists the inmates in achieving their personal and educational goals, but also provides Dartmouth students with a unique and important experience.

“[The Prison Project] is definitely my most substantial, valuable experience at Dartmouth,” Desai said. “It gets you outside the Dartmouth bubble because you’re interacting with people who are in very different circumstances. It makes you think a lot about yourself, how you think about tolerance, how you think about privilege. It’s a chance to challenge my perspective and to reach out to people who need to be reached out to.”

Interested in joining this program for social change? Blitz the account [email protected]




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