Former National Public Radio host Alex Blumberg calls audio “the most emotionally honest storytelling format,” and last Friday Wabash freshmen in the College’s Liberal Art Immersion Program (WLAIP) proved his point.

You can add “expressive, “creative,” and “brave” to that description.

Asked to complete an “audio essay” as their final assignment for the English course in the program, the freshmen dug deep into the readings, their lives, and the places they grew up to produce original, surprising, and often moving narratives.

And their classmates—along with Wabash faculty and staff invited to the “listening party” in Lilly Library—got to hear it all, up close and personal.

The students also praised the class—taught by Professors Crystal Benedicks, Helen Hudson, and Jill Lamberton—and WLAIP program itself.

“Our class discussion was led by students, which I’d never experienced before,” David Ortega ’20, of Hammond, IN said. “I was finally in a school atmosphere that gave me freedom to be creative, while still pushing me to present intelligent, meaningful work.”

“I learned not to be afraid of not fitting in,” said Emmanuel Nordelo ’20 of Miami, FL. “I can use writing to get my story heard.”

Students seemed to enjoy listening to one another’s essays as much as the guests at Friday’s listening party.

“I think the camaraderie of other students is probably the secret weapon in this program,” said Dean of the College Scott Feller. “I already knew we had great faculty and staff who are all in, but the extent to which students enjoy and learn from one another in this program is remarkable.

“These guys learn a lot about themselves, and they’ll come back to campus in a couple of weeks a step up.”

Read more about the essays in the photos above.

—Steve Charles