This semester was different. Signing up for this course, I was shown countless pictures of Shortridge and Butler students coexisting and intermingling, surrounded by Scrabble boards and in big, cohesive circles for rap battles. I distinctly remember Professor Speckman coming to talk to my FYS during my first year here to advertise the EN455 course. I made a note in the back of my planner that I wanted to eventually take that class, as he shared handouts of poems and stories that the high schoolers had written. Now, as a senior, I finally got that chance to take the class. The Shortridge writing club room was empty, there were no Scrabble boards, no lingering after Butler Writers to chat with students about upcoming tests and events in their lives. We were the pioneers—both Butler and Shortridge students alike—of an impossible task: creating a safe, open, productive, fun place for students to gather and share ideas...over computer screens. It wasn’t easy, but I reckon we all learned a lot about ourselves and each other in the process.
This semester may have started off rocky; it certainly had its ups and downs. Through it all, I felt thankful for my supportive peers (some of whom became close friends) and the awesome, talented, committed students who made up the Butler Writers club this semester. It is a really special thing to be able to come together as a group of academics and creatively express ourselves, and I feel a large sense of pride when I think about all of the amazing poems, short stories, raps, and fan-fiction pieces that were shared throughout our time together. While I cannot and will not take any credit for the work shared by students, I will say that I think Butler Writers gives many students, who may otherwise be too shy or self-conscious, a chance to feel valued and safe in expressing themselves. Especially in the world we live in today, it is so important to feel a sense of community and belonging and this, above all else, is what I learned in EN455 this semester. When a group of individuals can come together and offer a community of care and non-judgment, really beautiful things can happen; friendships can be formed, great art can be created, and confidence can be built. I believed that I would be the one serving as a vital mentor this semester and, while that may have been part of it, I also learned how to be a better listener, a more confident version of myself, and a more expressive writer from the students in Butler Writers. This experience really humbled me and made me even more eager to become an educator in a field which I feel I can make a great impact on students for the years to come.
Carli Domingos is a senior English and Anthropology double major.