Spending time at Broad Ripple Magnet School has helped return me to the simpler joys of life. As someone who is at least ten years older than the students we work with in our after-school club, I had forgotten the things that consume the world of teenagers. I do not mean homework or testing (the trauma of those will always be engraved in my memory) but the simple joys of sitting next to your friend in a crowded and overwhelming cafeteria or talking about your favorite show with someone who shares your passion and knowledge. For a few hours, twice a week, I get to be a teenager again, and share this experience with the amazing students I have met so far.

Though I enjoy every aspect of spending time at Broad Ripple, if I had to choose my favorite part, it would be the Open Mic that is held at the end of each day. This typically goes on for a half-hour and is reserved for anyone who wants to share something they have written, with the entire group. Mentors and mentees alike are welcome to stand up and take the floor, giving each person the opportunity to open-up, be vulnerable, and make their true-selves known. Most often it is the students taking the floor, sharing something they have written from that days given prompt or something they have written in their spare time that is more personal and reflective. In this positive, welcoming, and safe environment, I have witnessed a boundless amount of talent and wisdom. It may sound cliche but I have laughed, learned, and been truly awestruck by what I have heard. The stories and lessons shared are priceless gifts that I will carry with me forever. The bravery and vulnerability I have witnessed stay with me also, as reminders to be strong in my own daily struggles. I am grateful for the opportunity the school has given me, allowing me to come each week, as well as to each individual student who has allowed me into their lives as a mentor and as a friend.

Jillian Wanbaugh is a senior English major.