If you had asked first-year me what I thought the class that would affect me most at Butler, I do not know what my answer would have been. I probably would have said either a creative writing class that sparked the inspiration for a novel or an elective class that convinced me to add another major. I definitely would not have thought that it would be a class that took place off Butler’s campus in an IPS high school where we played UNO and ate peanut butter sandwiches every day. Yet, Writing in the Schools will probably be the class I remember and appreciate the most in my time at Butler.
The “Butler Bubble” is a true phenomenon, and even though everyone who attends Butler knows they live in a bubble, very few attempt to leave it. I am guilty of this as well: before WITS, I had driven by Broad Ripple High School countless times, but I had never gone in. Although I heard the school was shutting down, I did not become emotionally invested in the school or in the Indianapolis school system as a whole until I took this class. Throughout the past four years, I have come to love Indianapolis, especially the Broad Ripple area, and although I am moving away in the fall, I hope to enjoy the few remaining months I have in the region. However, this class has shown me that if you love an area, you shouldn’t just love it for what it offers you. Many Butler students, including myself, love downtown Broad Ripple for its food, bars, and art scene. While it is okay to enjoy these things, one should take an interest in the social issues of the area in which they live. I would like to think that, if I would taken this class a year earlier, I would have attended the school board meetings where they discussed closing Broad Ripple High School and shown my support for keeping the school open.
After taking this class, I now realize how important it is to interact with people who come from different backgrounds that I do. Although I technically served as the mentor this year, I learned so much from interacting with these kids that I would have never learned by just reading newspaper articles about how the school was getting shut down. At Butler, it is very rare that I meet anyone who is different from me, so going to WITS was a refreshing and eye-opening experience.
Coincidentally, this class also directly relates to my future. In September, I will be leaving to join the Peace Corps. I will travel to Indonesia, where I will be serving as an English teacher for two years of service. While I am excited about this opportunity, I am also terrified. However, because of WITS, I already have experience in teaching people from a different background than myself. I know that this will be on a much larger scale, but after taking this class, I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. And who knows? Maybe I’ll teach my future students in Indonesia how to play UNO.
Megan Ulrich is a senior English major.