I always considered myself an adventurous type. If I weren't, I wouldn't have come and lived in a country different from where I was born in the first place. But for some reason I was really nervous about having to work at a prison, especially when it's an all-male, maximum security prison. Maybe it was all the movies that I had watched about prisons, I'm not sure. I did, however, found myself a little therapy whenever I felt nervous: watching Dr. Evil's prison rap in Austin Powers on YouTube. And it worked! Ah, how embarrassing to admit that I love Austin Powers movies.
Anyways, as much as I was nervous I knew that I would feel more comfortable once well-prepared. So I spent a lot of time getting ready. Since it would be for a large group, I decided to give not only origami instructions but also presentation and demonstration.
Over the two months of slowly getting ready, I exchanged phone calls and e-mails with the prison staff. I came to realize then that I would have to follow all kinds of rules that I never had to worry about when I teach elsewhere. First of all, Kurumi and I had to go through background checks. I also had to give them a list of all the materials that I planned to bring in to the prison. Originally I wanted to bring some of my framed artworks to show, but since they contain glass I couldn't. I thought of bringing my own laptop so I could show photos on it, but bringing in a computer was not allowed for security reason. I wanted to show a video clip from YouTube, but no internet access. Instead, I was told to bring in a flash drive with all the photos and downloaded video clips so that's what I did.
I was restricted not only as to what to bring but also what to wear to the prison. I needed to dress conservative, not to show my skin. No wire bra. No blue clothes are allowed whatsoever because that's the color that inmates wear. All of these things made me realize how restricted inmates live, and also how much freedom we take for granted out here.
I informed my friend/assistant Kurumi about all the rules, flow of the day, and also the origami models that I was going to teach. After all that, we were all ready to go and hoped for the best.
To be continued... again to my next post: Origami at Oregon State Penitentiary 3