"I firmly believe the NELP experience serves each student differently. I saw some of my fellow NELPers grow as writers, some grow new friendships, others grow their selfhood. This program extends beyond the academic and has the ability to shape students' lives. I left NELP with completely changed plans for what I wanted to study and what I wanted to dedicate myself to in my career. The educational experiment of NELP taught me about how I learn and how others learn when we are given the freedom to experience more than simply education in a classroom, on a Powerpoint, in a textbook. Beyond the academics, NELP allowed me to meet amazing and talented individuals, many of whom are still closely involved in my daily life. This program has a special way of making Michigan's campus a little bit smaller, which, for me, made the difference between transferring schools and staying at Michigan."
--Claire Garner, NELP 2018
"NELP was a key experience in my development as a teacher and thoughtful adult. I learned of the program from my high school English teacher, who, it turns out, built many of his own teaching practice from his NELP experience. The program is a remarkable opportunity for students and teachers to get to know each other as people and learners, engage in holistic education, and grow with attention not only to course material but to how we individually relate and experience the ideas with which we engage.Every class I have taken and every experience I have had since NELP has been touched by it in some way. I look at the world more deliberately, mindfully, and openly because of the adventures and lessons with which NELP provided me. I believe I am kinder, more connected with those around me, and more willing to grow intellectually and ethically because of the time I spent at NELP. It was an irreplaceable and essential part of my college experience and I wish for nothing more than for others to have access to those same kinds of experiences."
Ben Fisher, NELP 2018
"Of everything I got out of the University of Michigan — and trust me, I got a lot — the experience that impacted me most will always be the New England Literature Program. NELP is such a beautiful and unique learning experience that is quite hard to capture into words. NELP provides an all encompassing approach to learning. Even when just existing at NELP, you’re taking in new information, new sights, new experiences, new challenges, new perspectives. One moment, you’re around a backcountry campfire, discussing the words of authors’ who were inspired by your very surroundings, the next, you’re debating with a friend on the mess hall steps about the meaning of a line of poetry, or probing your teacher for insights while you backpack through the White mountains. The spirit of learning is pervasive at NELP. It’s a place not only to learn in the academic sense, but to grow as a human, a community member, an explorer, a citizen of the world, a mushroom hunter, you name it. Every student that goes to NELP gets to be a part of something magical and unique as a thumbprint. I will now non-sarcastically compare being accepted into a NELP class to finding one of Wonka's golden tickets. Only 40 lucky students unlock this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was one of my greatest honors to be one of them. NELP is an incredibly important institution at the University of Michigan — something the English department has to be proud of, and the experience in my major that I will always cherish the closest."
--Sofia Lynch, NELP 2018
"I dread these moments—the moments of reflection after I’m asked to synthesize an experience that was so monumental, so unsynthesizable. To make it easier, I guess I’ll start with the basics. I came into NELP after a shaky sophomore year, throughout which I’d changed my course of study probably six times, with double majors and minors and combinations ranging from Economics and Art History to Computer Science and Communications. At the start of NELP, I’d settled on something that I felt comfortable enough pursuing, a major in Philosophy and a minor in Computer Science. Throughout the program, though, I slowly discovered that what I believed was comfort was actually my own submission to neoliberal insecurities of wealth and status (Computer Science) behind a veil of intellectualism (Philosophy). At a certain point at NELP, I realized that what I was doing there, the rigorous routine of real work, reading, teaching, adventuring, and community building, brought me closer to what I’d wanted to do in my adult life than I’d ever been before. Looking back, I can say that I’d never known real purpose, real passion, real confidence, and the deep comfort that comes with feeling all of these things at once, until NELP. Since then, I’ve changed my major to English Language & Literature, I’m beginning work on an undergraduate Honors thesis related to Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the principle writers in the NELP curriculum, and I’d like to say that I’ve been living and will continue to live by the NELP values of exploration, self-reliance, deliberation, and community.
Then there’s the magical side of NELP, the side that doesn’t make sense to anyone who wasn’t there, the side that produces odd looks and twisted eyeballs whenever I try to explain it. It’s almost pulpy, and I think it happens when you discover what it means to live in a real community, one in which the individual and the collective are coterminous. There’s a reason everyone cries at the end."
--Mike Watkins, NELP 2019