Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A vist from Dr. Rev. Kaia Stern, Executive Director of Harvard Prison Studies Project

In April of 2012 we began to lay the foundation for a movement at Guilford to inform our community of

the realities of prisons and the transformative power and value education has for those incarcerated.

In my research for rallying allies for our efforts at Guilford, I came across an article in the Fellowship

of Reconciliation newsletter titled

Shackles and Sunlight by Dr. Rev Kaia Stern who is also Executive

Director of Harvard’s Prison Studies Project .

As I read her piece, her words spoke to me with such conviction I felt obligated to share the experiences

of her lifetime work within prisons as well as her encouraging “call to action”.

I reached out to Dr. Stern via email and informed her of Guilford ‘s mission . I informed her that I tired

of waiting for a change in one of America’s great institutions of oppression. And a fire was lit towards

our collegiality and friendship.

Dr. Stern came to meet with Guilford administrators and faculty to guide us in our efforts to spearhead

our own program. In a craze of excitement , anxiety and frustration she reminded us through a quote

by Desmond Tutu that “ crumbs of compassion cannot satisfy our hunger for justice” . We must act. We

must fight and keep fighting to dismantle oppression in the name of justice. Dr. Stern then gave a talk

to the Guilford community the following evening .

As she fed our momentum at the previous meeting she did as well in her talk to the community.

Allowing us to visualize a day in the life of a prisoner ,his solitude. . Confined by the limitation s within

his own understanding and society’s indifference. In closing, Dr. Stern challenged us to understand the

effects knowledge has on liberation ; challenged us to dismantle a system of oppression , like a termite

destroys a home...through the inside out. Through education by educating.

Dr. Stern’s visit to Guilford was a momentous step in spearheading our efforts for our Higher Education

in Prison Initiative. I am here , to defend education to those our society has underserved and often

times locked up and thrown away. I am here, working on this initiative because I believe with great

conviction that an excellent education is a basic human right and the “most fundamental method of

social progress.”

Some days it seems like an uphill battle saturated with political cynicism, social apathy and economic

restraints...but I remind myself of the stories, the lives who have touched me , and the lives not only in

need of a second chance but those who never received a chance at all to maximize and nurture their

potential. And I keep pushing, relentlessly...because to those “ we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow’ we must

answer ‘Today’.”

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