Instructor and Residence Counselor Ben credits his time as an EXPLO student for showing him how much more of the world was available to him. He's come back this summer to teach Philosophy and to help students harness the sense of courage he found here. 

As a student, my memory of EXPLO is just filled with so much joy and happiness. When I think back of the time when I was an EXPLO student, I was so full of curiosity and wonder, and thought the world was an amazing space. EXPLO really allowed me to feel that.

EXPLO changed my life in the matter of showing me that there's a world in which I can love learning, and that world exists outside of the public high school system. I was so miserable in high school and entering a place like this showed me that learning can be fun and I can be passionate about what I study. It was the amazing staff members, who were so approachable and so acceptable of different opinions and different cultures, that made me realize that the whole world isn't stacked up against me.

The reason I came back to work at EXPLO is because the staff members were so amazing when I was a student, so open and authentic, and there's nothing I want more than to emulate that. So I think the thing that never changed for me being here as a student or s a staff member is being authentic. As a student, I thought it was so important for me to be my true authentic self — to come to EXPLO to be "me" and be proud to be "me." And as a staff member, I think there's nothing that I've tried besides that — being who I am, and doing what I love and what keeps me going.

I would totally say that confidence is the most important thing I want to give back to the students here. One of the things that really surprises me coming back as a staff member is that so many students doubt their abilities and they really don't think they are amazing. But so many of them are so amazing! They can really change the world.And I mean this whole heartedly. They just need to believe in themselves.