I think it was sometime during Bill Clinton’s second talk that it hit me how awesome this event was. I looked up at the blue stage and saw the bright lights, looked to my right and left and saw all the young, attentive faces. I was in a room full of people who were not only hungry to make a difference, but who had turned that hunger into something awesome, something that was already changing the lives of those around the world.
I met students from Greece, Iran, Cameroon and a smattering of people from different states all across the U.S. They were some of the most impressive young men and women I have ever had the privilege to meet. Some of them were interested in creating their own chapters of Prisoner’s Poetry at their schools, and all of us on the Prisoner’s Poetry team are excited at the thought of spreading our mission of rehabilitation through self expression to other parts of the U.S! I felt honored and amazed–not even a year into this amazing project and already Prisoner’s Poetry was being accepted and invited to something as inspiring as the Clinton Global Initiative University. It gives me so much hope for the future of our budding organization, so much more to look forward to. I know our influence and scope is set to become larger than any of us can even dream.
In the end, as cool as attending the CGIU was, it’s more awesome to think about the lives we’ve touched with our work. To measure success in how many men feel like the outside world actually cares about them, how many voices were given a platform to express their innermost feelings, how many community members can go online and see the work of brilliant and honest individuals. These men have shared their souls with us, stanza by stanza, word for word, and we at Prisoner’s Poetry are committed to sharing their artistic souls with the world and changing the perception of the prison community. After attending the CGIU, we have nothing left to do but work even harder to spread our mission. We owe it to these men and we owe it to ourselves, for the greater good of the world, for the greater good of the never ending quest for social justice.