Celebrating stories at Oakhill

Mark in class at Oakhill

“I’ve never in my life felt so free as I have felt taking this class.”

—Mark, Odyssey Beyond Bars student in English 100 at Oakhill, fall 2021

On a bright, cold day in December, more than 50 guests gathered at Oakhill Correctional in person and by Zoom to celebrate another successful semester of Odyssey Beyond Bars’ Intro to College Writing course and to watch each student deliver a five-minute oral storytelling performance as part of the storytelling extravaganza that marks the end of the course.

OBB student Mark cheers his classmates on: “Some of you may be sitting in this class feeling like you’re not a writer, or even feeling nervous that you may not do well. But I’m here to tell you that you all have a story to tell.” In front of family, friends, and UW and DOC leaders, students told stories that elevated their voices and demonstrated their gifts as writers. Guests heard about a beloved stepfather who inspired a student’s love of tattoos (and penguins), a forbidden interracial relationship that bloomed into a lasting marriage, and a cherished aunt whose drug problem led a student to recognize the pain we all share when we lose a loved one to addiction.

The event was made possible through our partnership with the Department of Corrections. We are deeply grateful to the staff and leadership at Oakhill Correctional who provided the event space, accommodated our many visitors, and even served refreshments to top off another excellent semester. The students appreciated the effort!

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