Participating in the Oregon Prison Project has profoundly affected me personally. I have experienced a deepening of my non-violent consciousness and an increase in my knowledge of the skills and techniques in facilitating the learning process for others. Most profoundly, I now have a greater sense of self worth in my ability to support others in their growth and a deep sense of community and connection.
I am currently entering a Masters in Counseling program and I know that the experienced I gained from my participation in this program will increase my ability to hold an empathetic space for future clients. I also imagine this experience will be an asset in securing employment with a an agency.
The primary way I have been affected by my experience with the program was that in seeing the bond develop between the men and in hearing the stories of their crimes and of their lives, I got to witness them as whole people… to get a glimpse of the pain, the disconnection, the unmet needs built up over the course of their lives that eventually led to the acts in which they thought they were justified in taking whatever they wanted from another person to somehow compensate for that. In seeing the heartfelt remorse they expressed, and how they cared for and supported each other in their healing, I got to experience them as far more than the acts they committed. I felt connected with our common humanity, not just with the men in that room, but with all people. I experience a deeper sense of empathy in my life, for others and for myself in times where I had acted in ways which I regret.
In taking on the focalizer role, I got to experience my own strengths, weaknesses, and learning edges. I felt moments of confidence and joy, where everything seemed to flow smoothly. I also experienced moments of deep insecurity, and how my own issues can interfere with my ability to hold group space. I learned to respect that the maturity and ongoing growth process of the facilitator is essential to the quality of group space. I believe this will affect the pace and avenues through which I pursue further training in facilitation, NVC, and all areas.