This week we had a new program "first." We held a book discussion at the Oregon State Penitentiary, but this time we added another dimension: our discussion was bilingual, and included members of the OSP Latino Club.
The discussion involved discussion activities that invited participants' insights about the book in particular and about the broader themes explored in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. We talked about our relationships with our childhood homes, our sense of belonging or alienation, and what this story might mean to young people in our lives. There was a strong sense of identification with the story from participants of all backgrounds.
These book discussions are a chance for us to connect with a broader group of people who are incarcerated in Oregon prisons. Leadership of the discussions at OSP come from members of ACE--both "outside" leaders (UO faculty, students, and alumni), and "inside" leaders who are incarcerated at OSP. This adds an additional dynamic of mutual respect, engagement, and participation for all.
Holding the discussion in English and Spanish added an extra chance for people to get outside of their comfort zones and to engage with the book and each other in a complex and thoughtful way. We are particularly grateful for the bilingual members of the OSP Latino Club who helped interpret.
As usual, this discussion was warmly welcomed and highly energetic. We are privileged to participate in this way.