Having just moved to Indianapolis weeks before, I had never even heard of Shortridge and had no idea what to expect when I walked in the door. I immediately saw the signs for our creative writing group, Exclusive Ink. Great, I thought to myself, as if I weren’t nervous already. Thankfully, as it turns out, the group is anything but exclusive.

The group, in just six weeks this semester, has become remarkably close. Even the mentors from last year have made a note that the atmosphere is tight-knit. Like I said, it can be intimidating at first, as a new member of the program. I remember the embarrassment of having to ask for everyone’s name multiple times on the first day.

The kids did eventually forgive me for not knowing their names and now we talk about daily life, we try to solve the world’s problems, we write.

Recently, we did an exercise where we wrote a poem, story, or letter to our past or future selves. It was an incredibly moving experience––there was no reservation, no exclusivity. Everyone shared. I was amazed at how open the students were. It moved me so much because the first-time mentors had no pre-existing relationship with the students other than the last few weeks in room 238. Despite all this, I feel like I’ve not only been accepted as a member of the group, but I would say that I’ve made friends there. It’s not all about helping out with an exercise. It’s about what you learn while doing it.

The name of this group, Exclusive Ink, is a little deceptive. My background is different from most of the students at Shortridge, but I feel like I’ve been coming to the group for years and it’s not just because of the personalities of my fellow mentors–– it’s because Exclusive Ink has an energy that promotes inclusiveness and acceptance.

Contributed by Luke Wortley