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>  News Releases >   2006 >   October

Program links inmates with Dartmouth students

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/23/06 • Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Writing and performing break barriers and boost self esteem

For the third time in a year, Dartmouth students are participating in the "Telling My Story" program at the Southeast State Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison for women in Windsor, Vt. This fall's performances will be Oct. 26 and 27.

Daniella Sloane, a member of the class of 2010, and Christina Stoltz, a graduate student, have been working during the fall term on this project that culminates in a theater performance featuring both the inmates and the students. Because many inmates suffer from a lack of focus, poor communication skills, and low self-esteem, "Telling My Story" helps them make positive choices and find a useful perspective on their situation.

"Students and inmates write and perform in the show together, and they all offer a personal testimony about the experience after the show," says Phyllis Katz, a senior lecturer in Women's and Gender Studies and the Dartmouth facilitator of the program this term. "Students and inmates collaborate on the program. In this way the inmates are supported and encouraged, while the students must set aside fears about prison and preconceptions about inmates."

This fall's performance centers on two fictitious inmates, Hope and Faith, who meet in corrections and become good friends. One is in corrections for a long time; the other is a "revolving door" inmate, and this situation impacts their enduring friendship. "Hope and Faith" is a production of "The Usual Suspect Company," which is part of the "Telling My Story" program at the Windsor facility.

"I think that, for both students and inmates, the prospect of a live performance is attractive but frightening, and this pulls the group together and keeps them focused," says Pati Hernández, the director of the Windsor Women's Prison Performance Project. "Together students and inmates achieve the goal of putting on the play, garnering well-deserved praise for their courage and effort from staff, family, professors, and fellow inmates."

Dartmouth's participation in "Telling My Story" is supported by Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, and the Women's and Gender Studies Program.

EDITORS NOTE: Journalists are invited to the performances at 3 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 and 27. Those interested MUST call Pati Hernández to RSVP. All attendees' names must be provided ahead of time to prison officials. Hernández's evening phone number this week is: (802) 785-2608, and her e-mail is: patihernandez@hotmail.com

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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