Today I went to the gym first thing in the morning and then drove back to campus. For the first time in ages, I only had to walk across campus to get to work and didn’t have to travel anywhere else today. I got in, and did some final edits on my latest book chapter before class. Today, my undergraduates were taking their exam and so at 11am I distributed the papers and the exam lasted around one hour. I gathered in the papers and then three of the groups were due to give presentations today, supported by their relevant graduate student. The groups presented really well and demonstrated a good knowledge of the issues they had researched.
I left the classroom at 1.20, went and got lunch and then went into a meeting in the conference room with Cassandra, who was giving the students who are travelling to Scotland to do a field trip in June some information on what to expect. She had asked me to come along and say something about Scotland. The students are going to be at Napier University this year for the first time, not UWS as they normally would since the field trips are now going to be shared between UWS and Napier. I talked to the students about Edinburgh, told them they should go and see the castle and the Scottish parliament, told them about the souvenir shops and the tartan memorabilia and tried to describe haggis to them and recommended they should try it. I don’t think they were convinced! I also talked to them a little bit about the criminal justice system in Scotland, the children’s hearing system and welfarist approach to youth justice.
After the meeting I met with Lisa, one of my graduate students, who took me across campus and showed me where the student support office was so that I could collect exam scripts for two of my students who have additional support needs and had sat their exam in private. We walked back to the office and I then met with Bryan Kummerland, the former Chief of West Palm Beach Police Department. Bryan has now retired but is an Adjunct Professor at FAU and had agreed to do an interview with me. The interview took about 40 minutes. I then marked all my exam scripts before leaving the office just after 5. A busy day!
I walked back to my apartment, had my dinner and then went back out to go to the study group at Boca Raton church – the first time I had managed to get to this since February. Bob and the other guys were pleased to see me and we had a good session. At the end, Bob asked if we had anyone we would like him to pray for and I asked for prayers for my friend David Ferguson and his wife Lorna and 4 sons. David is a missionary attached to my own church, St Paul’s in Milngavie, and has worked and lived in Japan for the past 20 years with his family. He has had a long battle with cancer and two of the guys in the group, Bob and also another young guy called David, kindly prayed for David, Lorna and the boys. This was very poignant for me – during one of my many texts with David while I have been out here, I reminded him in January that it was 20 years since I had participated in the Alpha course at St Paul’s church, where David was my group leader in a setting quite similar to the type of study group I was in this evening. He and Lorna also first created Sun Kids, the children’s outreach group in St Paul’s, and inspired me in my own work as coordinator of Sun Kids which I did for about 8 years.
I left and got back around 8.15pm and spent the evening packing and getting ready for my trip tomorrow to Cincinnati.
Today I had a Skype call in the morning and that took until 10am. I then drive back up to West Palm Beach to Gun Club Road and met with the Captain and the staff in the jail again and continued to do my interviews with inmates. I managed to get two more done and also interviewed one of the sergeants. That should be my interviews with gang members complete now.
After that, I drove back down the road and had my dinner. I made sweet and sour chicken from a recipe Karen gave me – it was lovely! I then went to my yoga class which was really relaxing.
I came back and finished off some work before bedtime.
Today I entered week 16 of my Fulbright scholarship period here in Boca Raton. I drove up to West Palm Beach for 9am to go to Gun Club Road where I have been many times during my trip, today to meet with faculty there to get a full tour around the County Jail. I arrived at 8.50am and met Cassandra, Lincoln, Will, Seth and Lisa along with members of the criminal justice department and went in and met the corrections officers there. These were the same guys I had met with when I was conducting my interviews with inmates a few weeks ago.
The guys took us all round the jail and this was a really interesting experience for me since I had never properly seen the inside of a county jail in the USA before. Generally, the jail stuck me as quite basic and a little primitive in places compared to some of the prisons I have seen in the UK and certainly in Denmark. The recreational areas are mainly used for basketball and have no equipment in them, and when we got down to the solitary, maximum security section it was very traditional – with iron gates and bars, and prisoners housed in multiple dorms which looked very basic. We even saw some inmates having showers as we passed. We saw a restraining chair where some inmates are held for up to 4 hours if they have displayed very disruptive/violent behaviour, and the keys that are contained in glass panelled security cabinets look very traditional – the real ‘jailer’s keys’, unlike the electronic cards that I have seen used in other prisons I have visited in Europe. We also saw a display cabinet with lots of examples of contraband in them – make-shift weapons smuggled into the jail and shoes that have had concealed drugs within them etc. Visitation is done purely via video – so inmates can go up to a row of screens and lift a phone and communicate with their visitors but are not permitted to actually meet with them, because of the history of drugs being smuggled into the jail in the past. This was a fascinating experience for me and helped me to see the big differences between the US county jail system and the prison system in the UK and other parts of Europe.
I then left the rest of the team and went with the corrections officers to get ready to conduct more of my interviews with inmates. First I had lunch in the officers’ room, and managed to get a connection for my phone and get onto Facebook while having lunch where I had a few messages with my good pal John Peebles, who is currently in Tailand and was 11 hours ahead of me in time and just getting ready to go to sleep. It is amazing that we can communicate around the world so easily these days. We texted each other a few times and he was amused to hear that I was texting him from jail!
I then went to the interview room, leaving my phone and other belongings behind and conducted 3 more interviews with inmates. Again, these were all very interesting. I also interviewed one of the sergeants. I now have 2-3 more interviews to do, and will return tomorrow to complete them.
I drove back to FAU for about 4.30, did some work, had my dinner then went over to the office to photocopy my exam scripts for the students who have their final undergraduate exam in class on Wednesday. I met John who was just finishing his teaching and he gave me a lift back over to the apartment.
Easter Sunday has arrived and it was a strange feeling today at some points to be spending it here on my own. But I had a reasonably good day. I went for a run around the campus in the morning and then came back to my apartment, had breakfast and got ready and went to church. I was unsure what to expect today – I normally look forward so much to East Sunday services in St Paul’s and I knew that the service in Boca Raton Community Church would be somewhat different from those.
When I arrived it was even busier than usual, and the place was packed. The 11am service was the second service that had taken place, with an earlier one at 9am. The format was quite similar to the regular services are except that today the cross on the stage had been covered up with a large screen that projected images of sunrises, and the light and hope associated with Easter morning. The band played a couple of more traditional easter hymns and the sermon by Pastor Bill was shorter than usual, following a longer period of singing. It was all very nice.
I left and went and got gas for the car in Glades Road and then went back to my apartment for lunch. I then drove down to Aldi to get some groceries (I needed coffee, yoghurts and potatoes etc) but it was closed for Easter Sunday – so I drove back along the road and went to Walmart instead (sorry Karen, but at least I saved some cash by not going to Publix!)
I came back to the apartment, sat in the sun for a while at the pool until the rain came on. I then went back upstairs and made dinner – tonight, i had tuna steaks with potatoes and broccoli. i then spend the evening doing some work, ironing a few things and having a bath. It’s amazing how much bigger and better the bathroom is in this apartment than the awful ones we had in the villa which were tiny and had no bath.
Tomorrow I go for a tour around the jail with colleagues from FAU and also get to do some some interviews with inmates.
Happy Easter everyone!
Today was my final day in the villa. I went out for a jog and then a final walk across the beach, then came back and got ready and went to the i-Hop for breakfast where I also skyped home. I came back and packed everything up and checked that everything was out of the villa and said my goodbyes.
The car was loaded full to the brim with my two bags and all the bags of food from the fridge and freezer. When i arrived at FAU it took me about 6 or 7 trips up in the lift to get everything unpacked. I got everything into the cupboards, unpacked and settled back into the apartment.
I sat out at the pool for a while, then came back and skyped my mum and had a good chat. Then i had steak for my dinner which karen had got for me from Aldi – it was delicious! I then spent the rest of the evening working on my laptop and having a glass of wine or two.
It is quite nice being back into my regular routine here now. I am looking forward to being back in what is the closest thing to what I can regard as my ‘own bed’ tonight!
Today I began my transition back into work and back into my solo lifestyle here. I got up early and had breakfast at the villa then went into work. I got the last of the portals set up on Canvas, the online student support system, ready for their assignments and grades to be submitted. I also got ready for my interviews in the jail on Monday. At 11.30, I drove out of FAU down to the church where there was a Good Friday service today. It was simply a time of quiet reflection and prayer, with no specific input and communion was available for those who wanted it. It was very nice and peaceful, and I came back to campus feeling good.
I finished off the work I had to do and finally heard from Karen and Alan – they had arrived back in Edinburgh safely but then discovered the brakes on the car had seized and had to wait for the AA to come. That;s all that they needed after a 22 hour journey home.
I left FAU just after 3 and came back and packed most of my things into my bags, did all the rubbish and cleared up. Then I lay out in the sun and had a drink. There are now new people in the villa next door and they are using the pool a lot, so it is a good time for me to be departing. I had my dinner, went for a walk along the beach and then came back and prepared my lecture for Cincinnati next week and then did some work on editing my book chapter.
This was my last full day at the villa. Gino has said i can stay here all day tomorrow but I will probably leave sometime after lunch, returning back to my FAU apartment for the final phase of my Fulbright journey. 15 weeks have passed and only 3 more to go…
Today we all got up and Karen and Alan got their bags together and we set off at 10.30 for breakfast. We went to Denny’s – where w3e had gone on the very first day of them being here, and it was hard to believe that 4 weeks had passed since then. We had a nice breakfast together and Alan was carrying on as usual, making us laugh. I felt a tension t6hat had been building up for days, in anticipation of them leaving and when we got outside to say our goodbyes it came to the surface and it was a very teary farewell on my part. Alan of course found this very funny! As they got into the car and drove away I walked out onto the pavement and waved them goodbye and then tried to pull myself together! I went back to the villa, picked up some stuff and headed to FAU to get on with the remaining part of my scholarship period.
I spent the afternoon in the office, finalising student grades and working on some reading I had to do. I left at 5 and drove back, had my tea quickly and then went to my yoga class which was so good and relaxing – I have missed doing these classes. I came back and finished some work on my laptop.
Well, it is now back to my solitary life … I must admit it is strange being in the villa on my own – I will be here till Saturday and then will move back to FAU.
Today I went back to work properly for the first time in 2 weeks. I went to the gym first then went in for 10am. I taught my class one of the very last formal sessions I will have with them, which was focused on assets-based community participation and followed by a class quiz based on the early content of the module which could potentially enable the students to earn extra points towards their final grades.
After class I left and came back the villa, had lunch and then lay around for a while. We then all went for a trip to the beach across the road – Karen and Alan’s first visit there! Alan had fun running along the sand and the water’s edge and we took some selfies.
In the evening we went out for a meal to the Olive Garden – Alan’s favourite restaurant here. This was our final dinner together – tomorrow Karen and Alan leave for home after we have breakfast together.
Today was a really great day. I got up at 8.30 and went for a run and then to the beach, then came back and had breakfast. Karen went out to the shops while Alan and I got ready and then we all went in the car and I drove everyone up to Palm Peach Gardens to John and Evelyn’s house. We met Evelyn there and sat and chatted for a while and then Alan and I got back in the car and drove back down to West Palm Beach Police Department where we had a tour of the police office planned, arranged via John.
Captain Joe Ahern showed us round and there was much more involved in the tour than I had imagined – it was really great! He enlisted several officers to show us the different areas of the department: first of all, firearms: we saw lots of different guns, including assault rifles and sniper rifles. Alan tried on the full combat gear and we both got to hold the rifles. We also saw battering ramps and the surveillance scopes used by sniper spotters. we then saw the inside of a SWAT vehicle, a bombs squad vehicle and Alan got to control the remote controlled robot that helps officers to detect bombs. We then saw a Harley Davidson police motorcycle and Alan got to sit on it, guided by the motorcycle cop. We saw body cameras, the call receiver room and the holding cells where offenders are held before being sent to jail. Finally the best part of the tour was the simulation training room. Alan and I got to observe the simulation training that officers engage in. This was really great and was a fantastic opportunity to see the way American police officers are trained, where they are encouraged first and foremost to use communication skills to de-escalate situations that arise and also to know if and went they may need to use firearms should potential situations arise that require it.
Alan left the office with a bag full of goodies, including a West Palm Beach Police Department badge, various coins and a toy car. It was a truly fantastic experience – well, at least it was for his dad anyway!
After this we went back to John and Evelyn’s house. Karen and Evelyn had gone to the mall for a while and by the time we were back John was home and made us some lovely mojito cocktails. We sat at the back at the pool and had some appetisers. Then we walked across to John’s boat and Alan fed the large turtles which are in the water there. They are huge and so hungry for any snacks you can feel them! We walked all around the water with their dog and then back to their house. Later, we went to a local restaurant near to the Smyklas’ home and had a lovely meal there. It was an idyllic setting, looking over the water and the boats. We came out of the restaurant around 9pm and Karen and Alan said their goodbyes to the Smyklas. As always it was a wonderful evening with them and it is hard to believe that is the last time that Karen and Alan will see them this trip.
we drove home and arrived back at the villa for just before 10pm.
Today was a fantastic day that brought with it some amazing news. I was due to attend the Faculty meeting in work and Karen and Alan were coming in with me because there were some Star Wars figures Alan had ordered and had been delivered to the FAU office. We got into campus around 11.30 and I made a phone call before getting ready to go to the meeting. I had thought that Karen and Alan would simply stay in my office while I attended but then when I came back from the toilet I was surprised to see that they were coming in to the meeting. It turned out that John Smykla had told Karen that something special was going to happen on Friday night and had invited her to come along with Alan but had also sworn her to secrecy,
The meeting began with me giving Faculty a summary of what I have achieved during my scholarship and what my future plans are. There were some questions at the end and then John said that he had a presentation to make to me. I was pretty overwhelmed with what came next, when he read out a letter from the Dean of the College inviting me to be appointed as an Affiliate Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice in FAU, initially for a 3 year period from May 2017 to May 2020. The letter ended by stating that my period as Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence has had an impact across the entire university. John then presented me with a beautiful crystal globe symbolizing what the Fulbright scholarship means, with my name on it. I was absolutely delighted with all of this and made it very clear to everyone at the meeting that it has been a privilege and honour to be part of the ‘family’ within the School of CCJ at FAU and will be even more of an honour to join the School in this new capacity. The role will involve me delivering some teaching online and supervising students from a distance, as well as collaborations in research and possibly creating opportunities for staff and student mobility from Scotland to FAU. So this will be a great opportunity for my own university, UWS, as well as for myself. When I return to my job as Assistant Dean in UWS next month, I will be able to create new opportunities for collaborations with FAU in the future.
Karen and Alan and I left the meeting and went to the Olive Garden for lunch. Karen and I had a bottle of wine to celebrate! It is so encouraging to me to know that I have made such an impact that they would invite me to take on this role, and it has made all the hard work worthwhile!
In the afternoon we spent some time at the villa and then got ready and went out to meet Vaughn Critchlaw from FAU and his family and their friend Lorraine and her husband Christopher for food and drinks in the Blue Tavern, which is a British pub in Deray beach. Lorraine is of Scottish descent and works in the after-school club Vaughn’s son attends and was keen to meet us. We had a nice meal and a great chat. Alan again had great fun with Vaughn’s daughter and son – he has made great friends with them.
It was a signal to me just how much Alan has enjoyed this trip when he said in the car on the way back home that it seems only like yesterday that they had arrived here, and now 4 weeks is almost up. He asked if we will be coming back here again, and has said that he would like to live here! This is quite something from a boy who is normally desperate to get home from all of our holidays. I am so glad he has enjoyed it so much – that really means a lot to me.