Promising Practices was definitely an interesting event for me. It wasn't my first conference where I was surrounded by teaching students, teachers, and social workers since I have frequently attended the Rhode Island Writing Project Spring Conference for the past three years. But, the workshops I attended were both extremely different. One included something about schizophrenia (honestly, I could not even begin to tell you what I was really supposed to understand from it). The other was a little more interesting and included a lot of aspects of SCWAAMP and other aspects of FNED that we've been discussing all semester. It was about incarceration rates in Rhode Island and how the institution and system is broken and unable to help anyone who has ever been incarcerated.
Workshop 1: Hearing Empathy
Luckily, I wasn't the only one from FNED that went to this first workshop called "Hearing Empathy." I say "luckily" because it's good to know I wasn't the only one completely confused as to what I was supposed to be learning. So, from what I gathered from the seminar, I was being taught by a man who worked the Veteran Hospital in Providence as a social worker. And he was attempting to show us how to experience empathy with people diagnosed with schizophrenia. I wish I had more solid evidence that that's exactly what I was supposed to be learning, but the workshop was so crazy, I found it hard to say anything more than "What is happening?" To Alex and Sydnei who were both sitting next to me. However, one thing that did catch my attention was that the presenter kept repeating "safe space" to us as we were sitting in front of him, not answering any of his questions because we didn't know what he was saying. Of course, Dr. August discusses "safe spaces" in her article that we read earlier this semester and obviously, the presenter was trying to get us to feel like his seminar was a safe space just because it was all about hearing empathy. However, because he was so all over the place and constantly looking at us as though we had any idea what he was trying to say. I don't think he was making a very safe space for us because there was no attempt to explain what he was talking about or to make us feel comfortable with the subject he was trying to discuss. I would say Dr. August wouldn't agree with his teaching methods at all.
Even though I felt as though I wasn't learning a lot within the workshop, I feel like from just the title of the workshop, I can understand what the presenter had actually wanted to tell us. When you're in a classroom or in a social working environment, it's important to understand that not there are those out there with mental and physical disabilities. We have to make that safe space, just as Dr. August describes. A space where students feel comfortable and understand that it's okay for them to be who they are. And by learning empathy and understanding what can occur with any form of mental illness is a way to get to that safe space.
However, I did find this video of Anderson Cooper simulating schizophrenia. I'm like 75% sure this is what the presenter was trying to show us all but Anderson Cooper did a better job at explaining it than he did.
Workshop 2: Recovery Oriented Systems of Care
My second workshop was one thousand times better than my first workshop. For the most part, I could understand what the presenter was trying to tell the attendees because of the lessons we've learned in FNED. In the workshop, we learned all about incarceration rates in Rhode Island and mostly focused on female incarceration rates. However, she also provided many statistics on the difference between female and male incarceration rates as well as comparing the incarceration rates between black, Hispanic, and white women within Rhode Island and in the country. Unfortunately, I was too concerned with actually listening to the presenter and her personal stories to take the time to write down her statistics, which probably wasn't my best idea. However, I did find this awesome PDF from the sentencingproject.org that displays some similar statistics to the incarceration rates within America.
I believe that one of the best connections I can make from this workshop to our own class was the article written by Kristof on the institution versus the individual. Within the PDF I had previously linked, it shows that black and Hispanic women are more likely to be incarcerated than white woman. Kristof discusses the idea that inequality is institutional and not based on the individual. Well, I believe the statistics showing that people of color are more likely to be incarcerated shows the inequality within the institution of the law. The presenter also told us how she believed the system was messed up because there was no solid way for those who had been incarcerated to properly care for their children or get jobs after they are released. The institution is based on the inequalities in gender, race, and socio-economic standing which I believe both Kristof and the presenter were trying to explain.
I also believe that the workshop connects back to Peggy McIntosh's article about white privilege. Again, I can bring up the statistics of the incarcerations rates between races. The sentencingproject.org says "In 2011, black women were incarcerated at 2.5 times the rate of white women (129 versus 51 per 100,000). Hispanic women were incarcerated at 1.4 times the rate of white women (71 versus 51 per 100,000)" which just shows the inequality in race. There is a white privilege even in jail, apparently. I've also found this article and video explaining some law changes in California attempting to fix the drug incarceration difference between whites and blacks in America because there was such a difference in the amount of times black people were incarcerated for drug use over white people. I think McIntosh tries to show how white privilege exists through a lot of her own experiences, but I think that even the statistics from the workshop and the articles back it up.