Monday, Oct. 21, 2019
Several of us attended Toastmasters this morning while the rest of us spent our morning in the dayroom. Toastmasters is a public speaking course we take in order to overcome our fear of public speaking. We have to be prepared to speak in front of the executives who come to hear our pitches.
For those of us who spent the morning in the pod, because we take Toastmasters on Tuesday afternoons, we tend to spend our Mondays studying. The main thing we study, usually in groups of two to three, is our Living in the Village chapters for the week. We always have a test on it Tuesday mornings, so it’s better to be prepared for all the material in the chapter. We are also studying our Microsoft hot keys, Excel sheets and our brothers’ names in case we get the “Names Test” soon. There are some of us working on revenue model packets in order to prepare for Wednesday’s test on Economics of One Unit (EOUs). We have been using the practice tests that they passed out to all the dorms; even some of the guys who just got here for Phase One are practicing it so that they can get ahead.
There are also a few of us who will be going to the computer lab to do market research and learn how to use various Microsoft programs. There is always an air of companionship and unity wherever we are here at the Estes unit. Nowhere else in prison can you find the level of love and commitment we have for our fellow brothers that we share in PEP. Everyone supports everyone in the things and difficulties that we experience in our walk.
Kaleb E. (a.k.a. “Canadian Bacon”)
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019
The day started out as it usually does. We walked into the PEP room to grab our badges and pray in. Then one of our class members stood and read the word of the day.
Our emcee, Kwentin R., introduced himself after he danced from the back of the room to the front. One of our brothers got up and stood in front of the class to talk about a situation he had the day before. The part he really emphasized was that the people at the hospital treated him like a normal human being. There are people in this world who see us as more than just inmates, and there are still others who love and care for us no matter our situation.
Then we took our tests. The emcee told everyone to face the library and take everything out of our pockets. This is the process we use every time we take a test. The test we took was over Living in the Village, Chapters 9 & 10. We had 10 minutes to take the test, which consisted of 14 questions.
Once that was over, we all faced the front of the room and welcomed our Living in the Village teachers. After they did their dance from the back of the room, they taught the next couple of chapters we have left and even showed us a Dave Ramsey video.
After that, we sang happy birthday to a couple of our brothers – this is how we show love to our brothers on their big day. Then out of nowhere, we were told to face the library again. We were now taking the dreaded “Names Test.” Everybody knew we would be taking it soon, but nobody expected it to be today. All went well and the day was a blessing. We ended with a pray-out, and that concluded our day in the PEP classroom.
Anthony E. (a.k.a. “Secrets”)
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019
Today we had Tim H. come in and talk to us about the financials that we need in our business plan. But first, we gathered together in the PEP room, grabbed our badges and then proceeded to sit down in our assigned seats. Then we prayed-in together before we brought our emcee from the back of the room. Man, this guy is hilarious. He brings so much fun and positive energy to the classroom and always finds a way to motivate us to try our best and to finish the program.
We all knew Tim H. was going to speak to us, but we didn’t think he would arrive so early. Our class was already full of anxiety and sort of on the edge because of the EOUs test that we took today. Even though most of us studied and practiced these financials a thousand times, we still had no idea how difficult the test would be. There were a few of us that actually understood them well enough to pass the test with a high grade.
Even though we may not have all passed the test, we can still practice to get the hang of EOUs in the future. Now we can all relax and continue to be on our toes for future tests.
Jermaine E. (a.k.a. “Gabrielle Union”)
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
Today in class, we finished our EOUs in the computer lab. When we finished them, we helped our brothers who were having trouble with the EOUs. We are currently working on our market research as well. We have other computer lab assignments that help us get familiar with computers. The programs we work with are Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Some of us were having trouble because we had never really used a computer before. We have graduates who are dedicating their time to tutor us during class so we aren’t learning only through trial and error.
We all look forward to computer lab to see if our advisors have sent us something new to help our business plans. We see how much the executives and volunteers genuinely care for us and want to be successful when they show up to our events.
These financials really got us thinking, and we see how important it is to learn them in order for our businesses to be successful. We are always eager to learn something new, and we don’t mind facing adversity to do it. We have learned to embrace it, and it feels good when we see the results of our hard work and dedication when we get our test scores back.
As we go deeper and deeper into the program, we all see changes in one another – to say the least, it’s very humbling to see all the positive changes in our brothers. We are all looking forward to seeing each other walk the stage on graduation day. We all look forward to making, for some of us the first time, our loved ones proud.
Alejandro E. (a.k.a. “JJ Watt’s Cheerleader”)
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation … we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”Aristotle
I love philosophy, which is partly why I chose to write about this quote. Aristotle is concerned about protecting knowledge of the pluralistic and diverse world in which we live. His ethics, which he regarded as a branch of the natural history of human beings, show a subtle appreciation of the complexities of human motivation. The Prison Entrepreneurship Program has helped change the way I think while helping to build my character. Ethics mean a lot to me, as does the study of concepts involved in practical reasoning: good, right, duty, obligation, virtue, freedom, rationality and choice. One of PEP’s 10 Driving Values is Excellence. We are dedicated to pursuing excellence in every area, despite difficulties which arise from setting high standards. We seek to work with and learn from the best of the best. We are dedicated to developing excellence in leadership throughout our organization – leadership when it comes to projects, ideas and promoting our 10 Driving Values. PEP is committed to working with people and organizations who share our values and mission.
I strive for excellence, and as such, PEP has helped me grow as a person. To know the world in each of its parts, a seeker must shut out the unnecessary senses and focus on what matters: the things that will move us forward. We all have the ability to change. We are in control of our own minds. If you want the change, put the thought in your mind and your heart will start to believe it. Sometimes we have a hard time seeing what’s crystal clear to everyone else: we have changed. By God’s grace, we are maturing. The Spirit’s activity within us is causing visible signs of that change to surface. This means you! God’s grace has been active within you. He has been busy breaking up the hard ground of your heart. Old habits are becoming less entrenched, so you smile more and are more careful with your words.
Richard F. (a.k.a. “Huggies”)