Inside Out Prison Exchange Program

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In 1995, Lori Pompa took a group of Temple Students to Dallas State Correctional Institution to have them sit down with a panel of incarcerated people. Twenty-two years later, this one class has turned into an international program.

The Inside Out Prison Exchange Program was started by Pompa after an inmate at that first prison suggested she take the one-time experiment and turn it into a semester long class. After that visit, Pompa took a new group of students to Graterford State Correctional Institution in Montgomery County, PA.

Graterford Correctional Institution Montgomery County, PA

At Graterford, she was approached by Tyrone Werts who had participated in the class and was interested in helping get the program started.

Pompa says, “There was a lot of miseducation about crime and justice, and we wanted to do something about that.”

What they did was create a program that focused on interaction between students – the “outside” – and the incarcerated – those on the “inside.”

While Pompa wasn’t sure of what reactions to the program would be, she received support from both students and those inside of the prison, saying, “The stuff that happened in the classroom was beyond anything that I could imagine.”

From the class formed Inside Out Think Tanks, which Werts describes as “groups of insiders and outsiders that meet on a regular basis and they do locally informed projects together.”

Werts is the National Think Tank Coordinator for the program, and works to organize these groups in ten different countries.

John Pace was also a participant of the program, and now works as the Program Assistant to Inside Out. He says one of the biggest changes he’s seen and been a part of since he first started working on Pompa’s team is the program’s expansion.

The program has reached over three hundred schools, and “[they’ve] trained over eight hundred instructors around the world, and probably over thirty thousand students have taken an Inside Out course.”

The program continues to grow, and this coming January will be the 52nd instructor training session in Chicago, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Pompa, Werts, and Pace all agree that both students and those incarcerated benefit from the program. They know that both sides have preconceived notions, but they’ve seen those quickly dissolve and create a powerful learning environment that makes a difference in everyone.

Pompa even says, “People will say to me, ‘wow Lori, this must be like a dream come true.’ And my response to that is it’s really not because I never dreamed it, which makes it just that much better.”

To find out how to take the class or more about the program in general, visit www.insideoutcenter.org or visit their office located at 1938 Liacourus Walk.

Diwali Festival at Reading Terminal Market

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Every year countries throughout Southeast Asia celebrate Diwali, a Hindu cultural festival that dates back to ancient times. Known as the Festival of Lights, this holiday is a celebration of good triumphing evil.

Philadelphia took part in the celebration this year when Reading Terminal Market hosted its own Diwali celebration. Philadelphia is a city that is an ever-growing hub of culture, and Reading Terminal continues to be in the center of that.

General Manager Anuj Gupta wants to display that within the Market. He says that he “want[s] the market to be seen as a hub across communities, across cultures in Greater Philadelphia where folks feel welcome, and they feel embraced.”

Along with this, the Market is on a mission to expand its exclusivity by hosting other cultural events.

Gupta says that “[Reading Terminal] wants to make sure that we are strong as a city and as a region and we do that in part by getting to know one another and getting to understand one another.”

Temple Graduate student Shalini Gingipally saw the Market’s celebration as a small reminder of home and an opportunity for others to learn more about her culture. She said that the event is helping her “connect with my culture away from family, and it’s also a way for other people to learn other cultures.”

Learning went into full effect for Senior Kate Keoghan, who was particularly impressed by the performances she saw from several dancers. She says, “I’ve never seen anything like it before so I thought it was really good.”

To find out about upcoming events, you can head over to Reading Terminal Market’s website.

Students Work to Keep Off-Campus Housing Clean

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Temple University says it is committed to maintaining a sustainable environment on campus and its surrounding blocks.

One community member has been unofficially helping Temple achieve this through her own good will. Charlotte Savage is a resident and block captain on the 1500 block of Page Street.

Every Monday, and then throughout the week, Savage goes outside and cleans up any stray trash to help keep the block clean.

“It’s more appealing [and] it just looks better,” she said. “At the end of the day, when you come home, the last thing you want to see is trash all over the place.”

Savage stressed that there’s a sense of pride in keeping the block clean, and that pride has even flowed into her neighbors. Temple student Jessica Zbytniewski lives next door to Savage and says that “she gets [her] super motivated” to pick up any stray trash to help maintain the neighborhood.

The Office of Sustainability says it pushes Temple Students to be greener on and off campus. Kathleen Grady, the Director of Sustainability, says her department has been tasked with “greening Temple’s campus and its culture, and integrating sustainability into the academic curriculum, and doing outreach on sustainability on and off campus.” This would include off campus housing blocks, where lots of students move to but may not be aware of how to sustain these places. Grady mentions that Temple has a good neighbor policy, and she thinks sustainability is a core component of that.

Temple Student Government’s Director of Grounds and Sustainability, Sarah Kuchan, encourages students to take advantage of Temple’s member school status with the Post-Landfill Action Network, or PLAN, by logging into their website with their AccessNet credentials. There, students have access to different materials that cover composting, recycling, and other acts that can help keep Temple a sustainable campus. She also encourages students to do their part by finding ways to reuse and recycle items they might already have, because “there are so many ways to use what you already have.”

Savage acknowledges Temple’s efforts in helping to maintain off-campus housing blocks, saying “Temple has been a great help, but we have to work hand in hand.”

To do that, students can participate in Sustainability Week, which kicks off on October 23.

The Office of Sustainability’s website provides information about any activities happening throughout the week and in the future. Tips on how to keep both on and off campus sites clean and sustainable are also available.

Monument Lab is Helping Shape Philadelphia

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The Mural Arts Program has become a staple of Philadelphia throughout the years, and this fall it has teamed up with curators and artists of the Monument Lab Project to create significant pieces across the city.

Kenneth Lum, the Chief Curatorial Advisor and Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke with high regard about the project. Along with his co-creator, he wanted to come up with an idea that “solicit[ed] a dialogue about public space and have Philadelphian’s have some say and some effect in terms of shaping their own future in terms of what values they believed were most important.”

He also talked about the decisions on picking artists featured in the exhibit, including Tyler School of Art Professor Karyn Olivier.

“The Battle Is Joined” Vernon Park, Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Mike Reali/Mural Arts Philadelphia)

Olivier, who is an Associate Professor of Sculpture, created a twenty-foot monument at Vernon Park in Germantown that encases an already standing monument dedicated to the Battle of Germantown. She says her idea for crafting “The Battle Is Joined” stemmed from wanting to “do [something] to make you see what you don’t notice anymore.” The sculpture is reflective on all sides, allowing visitors to see themselves at any angle and goes from “being this grand object to being very humble and one that reflects our humanity.” Feedback to the monument has been positive, with Olivier saying members of the community feel as though people are paying attention to Germantown again.

The exhibit runs until November 19th and allows people to interact at sites all over the city. People can contribute what they think is a good monument to represent Philadelphia in its current state.