Day in the Life of a JAC Intern: Joslyn’s Monday

This blog is a part of our newest series: Community Voices. Through this new series, we will be highlighting stories, insights, and reflections from across the JAC network of teaching artists, volunteers, interns, staff, and our wonderful audience and supporters. We are so grateful to have such a passionate and diverse community and we hope this new series will encourage dialogue, sharing, and connection. For this Community Voices blog, we asked Joslyn, a JAC intern, to describe her typical Monday. 

By Joslyn Lapinski, JAC intern

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be waiting by my cell phone every Saturday afternoon for a 65-year-old man to call me from prison, I think I’d have felt pretty confused. But here we are. I’ve been interning with JAC since June of 2020, and I have had the opportunity to connect with so many people I would never have met in any other context. People who have motivated and inspired me in ways I could have never imagined. From my very first interactions with JAC, I knew my values lined up perfectly with the organization’s and that this was somewhere I was meant to be. I don’t think I could ever have guessed just how much my experience with JAC would end up meaning to me though. I couldn’t have foreseen all I would learn, how much I would grow, or the family I would acquire on this journey.

Having been with JAC since the Summer, my responsibilities, both within JAC and in other areas of my life, have changed drastically. This has been a bit of an odd year for me, as I know it has been for most. Deciding to take a gap year from university at the last minute, extending my internship with JAC (multiple times), getting a part-time job, and living at home is not what I had planned for the year. But plans are always changing, and I don’t see things settling down any time soon. That being said, JAC has been my constant this year and I have developed patterns and routines, though I may not always stick to them. I’m excited to try and share a glimpse into a day in my life. 

On Monday, I usually roll out of bed somewhere around 9:00. If I’m in the mood, I might do some yoga to wake up my mind and my body. We talk a lot about self-care here at JAC, as well as at my other job, so I do my best to stick things like this into my routine. Sometimes you just aren’t feeling it though. So if I’m not, I’ll just go right to the kitchen and get some breakfast. Then I boot up my computer and hop on our Zoom to join JAC coffee hours and chat with some of the other interns. We’ve built such an amazing and supportive team without ever actually meeting in real life, so I think we all cherish the time we have together, even if it’s digital. It’s nice to see everyone’s faces as we start our week together. 

The first thing I always do is check my emails. I go through my personal email, my JAC email, my school email, and my work email. Assuming there’s nothing too important to deal with there, I start my JAC work. I always start by checking our letter writing folders. Managing our mail is a huge part of my role here at JAC, so this is what I spend a good chunk of my time on each week. I see if there are any letters waiting for me to reply to, and I read through all of them. Then, I pick which ones I can immediately respond to and start writing. Some letters are much more difficult to reply to than others, and I tend to leave these for later in the week so I have time to get help from my team if needed. I’m always grateful to have so many amazing people to turn to for advice and support when difficulties arise, as they inevitably do.  

Once I finish a few letters, I move on to another task. Recently, I have been planning posts to engage the community in our Facebook group. This may take just a few minutes or much longer depending on how much pre-planning I already did. At this point, it’s usually lunchtime, so I’ll go make something to eat. I try to take some time to relax and regroup before I go to my other job. I work as a registered behavior technician (RBT), providing behavioral therapy to autistic children in the afternoons. On my way to work, I stop by the post office to drop off my letters and get more stamps if I need them.

By the time I get home from work, it’s time to help my dad with dinner and then eat. Getting to eat dinner with my family and have home-cooked meals is definitely the number one benefit of living at home. After dinner, I usually do a bit more miscellaneous work. This may include helping prepare for an ArtLinks event.

On another day, it may be planning facilitation for our compassionate correspondence calls. On a different day, it may be going through and responding to our emails in JPay. There’s a lot of variation in my schedule and tasks week to week.

Once I’m all done working, I always end my Mondays by cozying up on the couch and watching TV with my younger sister. It’s such a simple thing, yet this time has become so important to my routine. TV time is something we both look forward to as we begin the week.

So that’s a day in my life! It’s definitely not what I expected this year to look like, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Before finding JAC, my interests in psychology, criminal justice, and art felt very distinct and separate to me. I remember feeling so amazed by the mere existence of this organization that somehow perfectly melds all those interests, and I felt so excited to be brought onto the team in the Summer. I didn’t think I’d be able to stay so deeply involved for such a long time, but I’m so glad I did. Taking this year off school was a very difficult, and even scary, decision, but it has allowed me to dive so much deeper into the world of JAC, and I have loved every second of it. I count myself very lucky to have ended up in such a wonderful position even with all the craziness life has thrown at us over the past year.

Join JAC’s Community Discussion Group on Facebook here.

3 thoughts on “Day in the Life of a JAC Intern: Joslyn’s Monday

  1. Todd, I agree with you. Once released, you’re only “half-way home.” HALF-WAY HOME, in fact, is the title of a compelling new study by University of Chicago professor Reuben Jonathan Miller, whose brother was incarcerated for years.

    Despite Miller’s constant interventions on his brother’s behalf, red tape, and a web of restrictions kept his brother a captive of the state, long after “paying his dues” behind bars.

    Miller’s research group confirmed that former inmates like you and your brother are hardly alone. The loss to the country is incalculable. Check the JAC’S BOOK CLUB entries for updates.

    Thanks for posting, and good luck to you – Louis

  2. This post will inspire aging baby boomers like myself, who may have too readily written off the young as selfish and self-involved.

    And, unlike my generation, Joslyn knows the importance of self-care. A home-cooked dinner with Dad, then cozying up on the couch with a sib to watch TV, goes a long way in restoring balance. Without balance, how can she be fully present for that incarcerated 65-year-old man waiting for her call?

  3. It’s so great to have a blog written by an everyday person. It can be interesting in that, as a former inmate, how different and captive my life has become. Just being out of incarceration doesn’t mean you’re truly free, It just doesn’t matter sometimes, a lot of a continuing fighting to take on the world knowing it’s rare to succeed.

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