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What "outside students" say about the Lipscomb LIFE program

"The moment I found out that I would be going to the prison I started thinking about all the ways in which I wanted to lead the women and help them through things. How wrong I was. I was not leading anyone, they would lead me and they would do it because I just wanted to be present for them and that was enough of a service. It was not about learning everyone’s stories of why they were in this wretched place, but rather meeting them right where they were at. I did this by just listening to them. It is amazing to watch the relief spread across their faces as they watch you communicate with them as a normal human being. By the simple act of listening, I made friends. Those friends are friends that I still write to even though I cannot participate in their lives the same way I once could. TPFW gives students a chance to experience women who have been in the darkest spaces of our earth, but that experience stirs up passions that one would never have thought they would have.” — Alexis

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“My class at the Tennessee Prison for Women led to some of the most honest discussions I’ve ever experienced in an academic setting. Although we sat at desks and a teacher led the conversation, the openness felt like some level group therapy at times. Not many can take an ethics class with those whose stories vary so drastically from most 18-21-year-old college students, and I’m so grateful for those rich perspectives offered with the understanding that judgment was no concern. I still write letters back and forth with one of my classmates. She, and many others, were so gracious on our journey of learning together, giving the gift of their story and creating a safe space to simply listen to each other."  

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"That semester, I interned at the Governor’s office, going straight from the Capitol to class at the TPW. At that time, there was tension around the Commissioner responsible for the prison system in TN. To see those leaders in the office, and then go listen to those whose lives their decisions affect, gave me a unique perspective of those with power and those greatly affected by their choices." 

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"In my class at TPW, there was a running joke that the teacher would call me by a different name every time he called on me. On the final, one of the bonus questions was, “What’s her real name?” I’ve never had people so interested in confirming my identity. It was a joy to laugh over my identity crisis with those women, friends and fellow students." — Clarie

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“Choosing to do a presentation at the Tennessee Prison for Women for my Business Communication classes was one of the best decisions I made during my time in college. Not only did I get to share about my experiences with meditation and mindful awareness, I learned so much about what it is really like in prison. After class one woman asked if we could be pin-pals. This was the start of a great friendship. I had taken another LIFE program at Room At The Inn and once I heard I could sign up for one at the TPW, I rearranged my schedule to make it work. The class was every bit as challenging as my other classes, but it was much more interactive. I got to hear great stories and look at topics through completely new lenses. I am so thankful for the wealth of knowledge and the relationships that the LIFE program continues to create.” — Natalie

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"Taking Biblical Ethics through the LIFE program was one of the most shaping experiences I’ve had at Lipscomb. It was particularly special because I was the only traditional student in the class. We spent many nights wrestling with tough questions. One night we shared our spiritual autobiographies. I was touched to hear all the stories of the women in the class. Although many of us had different backgrounds and histories, we all recognized the similar threads woven throughout our lives: our struggles, experiences of redemption, hope for our futures. I was blessed to get to know my classmates at a deep level and witness the tremendous work God is doing through the LIFE program.” —Kayla