Week in Review
Monday, January 6, 2020
It’s amazing what we can do when we put our minds to a specific goal. To achieve that goal is even more amazing. I think it’s safe to say that all of us who have made it this far set a goal to graduate this class. It is now our goal to become better men – thankfully, PEP has taught us a number of skills that will help us achieve such a goal.
The most important thing we learned as a class was how to hold ourselves accountable. It’s easy to blame others most of the time, but the fact is that we’re just making excuses not to hold ourselves to a higher standard. The process of looking within ourselves and realizing that we are the ones at fault is transformative. That is why in class it’s often reiterated that we hold each other accountable. Sometimes a few of us can take advantage of this principle – instead of using it to help a fellow brother, it can be used out of spite. But at the end of the day, it’s only through this rigorous transformation process that we will make it through refined.
As it stands now, most of us have been refined. Whether through the character development piece, Robert Lewis’ Men’s Fraternity sessions or learning to embody PEP’s 10 Driving Values, each of us has learned something new about ourselves and each other. We are all unique and now possess better tools and concepts to assist us as we progress through our individual lives. None of can honestly say with integrity that PEP was a waste of time. The time put into this program has been well worth it.
Navy A. (a.k.a. “Tom Hanks”)
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Today was a day to learn lesson after lesson during our time in the computer lab. Yes, we understand how to use basic Windows programs such as Excel, Office and PowerPoint. Yet there are those of us who remain technologically challenged. So we learn a much different lesson: patience.
Learning something new is often a daunting process. However, we know that these lessons are essential to our overall education in how the world around us works. For some of us, this is something that takes a lot of work.
The technological side of things are often harder to master. Without patience, we would never win this game. Excel is a great example of a particular skill set may employers require. So understanding this program is simply essential in business today. We have been afforded a great opportunity here through PEP to learn such skill sets. For those of us who have been incarcerated for extended periods, we find such opportunities to be indispensable.
We have a team of Peer Educators who have graduated from previous classes and continue to give back to the program. These men help those of us who do not know how to navigate technology to do so and become more proficient. While they do not have to give back, they do so willingly. This is a good lesson in patience. It has to take a great level of personal control to teach patience. Just seeing the level of kindness gained by such individuals here in prison makes those of us in the Winter 2020 class want to contribute as well. So the lessons we learn are the exact lessons we in turn teach in order to become greater people at the other end of PEP. And to our Peer Educators, we want to say “great job!” fostering in us the desire to learn important business skills and master patience so that we can enjoy a much greater and brighter future.
Jimmy A. (a.k.a. “Cindy Lauper”)
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Today marked a special day in our course toward our goal to graduate the Prison Entrepreneurship Program: we finally started to practice our graduation walk. We all looked proud and happy, because a lot of us thought we never would see the light at the end of the tunnel. As we practiced our graduation walk, we all executed the walk with few mistakes; we also held ourselves to higher standards and accountability when some of us made minor mistakes. We want that very moment to be perfect because our loved ones are going to be present, and for a lot of us it has been years since we last saw them.
We heard words of encouragement from David F., Gami J. and the Peer Educators, and we realized our time to give back is closer than expected. David F. gave us a few quotes from the Bible and told us all things are possible through our faith.
Work is an important part of life, and it should be fun and rewarding – so today, we had fun. We started working on our Coat of Arms that will be given to our families on graduation day. Being in a place where you can be yourself really reminds us that we are still human, even if we are in the situation that we are in. As our day ended, we put our stuff away and thanked each other for the encouragement that was spread around.
It’s crazy to see that we really have grown and our view of things has really spun around 180 degrees. We all care about each other and know that we are really loved by the executives who volunteer their time with us. Thank you to everyone who believes in us.
Jesus A. (a.k.a. “Nacho Libre”)
Thursday, January 9, 2020
We got to class at 7:30 this morning, and it was so good. We greeted each other, and all we talked about was what happened this weekend. Some of us talked about football and some of us talked about the visits we had with our families.
It’s so crazy that so many different people have the same interests in mind when it comes to PEP. We also discussed graduation and how all the pressure we have been enduring all year will finally be lifted off of us. We are ready to get into the world and start our lives in the right direction.
We took our second to last test and sang “Happy Birthday” to one of our brothers. We were then shown a video that involved character traits and how every single one of the choices we make can either hinder or help us. The video talked a lot about emotional control and how we as human beings are used to acting on instinct, but if we were able to slow ourselves down and think everything through first, we would be fine. It also stated that we shouldn’t let our temptations get the best of us and that we should find something healthy to replace those temptations with.
All in all today was a good day, and the time that we share with each other is cherished. We are ready for graduation and prepared to give back any way we can to this great program that brought out the best in us.
Yancy B. (a.k.a. “Dexter”)
“A neglected strength can become one’s greatest weakness.”
This quote has been such an inspiration to me and my life because it reminds me of the times and years when I couldn’t do some of the things that I wanted to do because I wasn’t good at it. Then I realized that all I had to do was take the time I needed out of my day to focus more on what I couldn’t do and mold it into something that I could do. All it takes is time and dedication to accomplish this. While doing this, I was able to prove to myself that nothing is impossible and that my so-called “weakness” could easily become my strength. So many times, I gave up on something just because I didn’t want to fail or look like an insane man trying to break an unstoppable cycle. Now I believe that no matter what stands in my way, with time and effort, it can be conquered.
We see this type of thing happen every day – people say they don’t want to do something that they think they can’t do. They have never put any effort into trying to do it because if they had, they would be surprised at what they would see. You have to want something as much as you want to breathe to get where you want to be. Motivational speaker Eric Thomas once said, “The only person that owes you something is yourself.” Nobody owes us anything, and we have to spend our energy wisely to accomplish anything of value.
Never stop chasing something that you want, because you’re only limiting yourself. Strive to succeed and never be denied.
Philip B. (a.k.a. “Uncle Elroy”)