Back in October, a few friends and I drove to the California Institution for Women to begin one of the most meaningful days of our lives. As a group of women in our early twenties, we drove along, our morning coffees in our hands, with no idea what our day would look like. The three of us had recently read Just Mercy, so we were all aware of the real-life injustices that land individuals into the prison system, but we had no idea what our day would entail. I didn’t even have an idea of what a prison physically looked like, let alone an idea of what the EITs would be like. My biggest concern was that I wasn’t going to have anything to offer the EITs. I was three years out of college, with barely any professional or life experience, and had no idea how I would provide feedback on business pitches or add something meaningful to conversations with EITs.
But the moment I walked through the door, welcomed by the hands of the EITs up in the air, dancing and laughing, I knew that I was entering something special. A place where past experiences didn’t matter, but empathy and connection did. The amount of enthusiasm in the room, displayed by the overwhelming excitement and joy on EITs and volunteers faces, was so abundant that any other thoughts fell by the wayside.