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A Perspective from an Artist Mentor, 2011 Annual Campaign Testimonial

People say that it is all about the journey and not the destination. With my almost 3 years as the film mentor at New Urban Arts, the experiences with the students, fellow mentors and staff have completely changed me as a person. As someone who completely felt that she had lost her talent and desire to ever create art after years of being burnt out from meaningless jobs, I realized after starting here at New Urban Arts that what I thought I had lost, was there all along. 

On my first day of mentoring, I was nervous. So nervous in fact, that I didn’t want to leave my car. You see, from the outside, the studio looks like a place where kids hang out. But for those who truly experience it and see it, there is a feeling of magic to this place and you feel it the minute you cross those doors. 

I experienced it the first time that day when I entered the studio and met my group of students. The students couldn’t be more different from each other. They were tough, opinionated and as I would find out later, extremely talented. And here I was feeling like a fake, a phony. I was the new film mentor who hadn’t made a movie in years. They were giving me the eye, waiting patiently for me to show them something. Anything. It is very hard to create a movie in two hours, let alone with people who don’t even know each other. So, I went to my last resort. 

“What is your favorite movie?”, I asked. This question would start a debate that would last those two hours. There is a beauty to seeing students who normally wouldn’t even talk to each other, find a common connection. And from that moment, I felt a connection with my students that would continue even till this day. 

New Urban Arts pushed me as an artist and made me see myself in a new light: as someone who enjoyed working with kids, and was pretty good at making art. I will certainly not forget the fun and frustrating times, those moments where I questioned myself as an artist and those moments where I wished the conversations would not end.

Three months ago, I left my position as a mentor to accept a job as the new Camper Recruiter at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which provides the camp experience to kids with serious illnesses. I would have never felt comfortable enough to pursue this position without my experiences at NUA. And while it is extremely difficult to leave, especially all those students and people I love, I realized that the spirit of this place isn’t contained in these 4 walls but in the relationships and people who carry New Urban Arts with them.

– Morgan Fagant