I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything

Aww man, signing the letter as “Love, Yourself” is way too cheesy you goob. One thing that I didn’t touch on was how much there is to learn from the rest of the cohort group. I quickly grew to have genuine admiration for everybody, and look forward to people sharing their opinions. There were so many great conversations about meaningful and relevant things, like the impromptu dialogue after the Black Lives Matter protest many of us attended. I feel like implicitly and explicitly I learned more about privilege, and also had beneficial and informing experiences seeing my own privilege brought to light. I don’t think I expected this experience to be as humbling as it was, especially in such a positive way. I think in the month off between winter semester and the start of this program I forgot how dynamic and brilliant most U-M students are, and it was so nice to be reminded of that through getting to know the cohort group. The summer has really reaffirmed how much I love getting to know people well and how much I need to connect with people.

In hindsight, I think I didn’t expect the summer to be cyclical like it was. I didn’t anticipate how much time it takes to take care of yourself and what goes along with that like sleeping, cooking, shopping, cleaning, socializing, and what not all while working a 9-5. It’s been valuable, and I’ve realized more clearly how much I want to be constantly stimulated by what I’m doing. But also, how easy it is to get burned out. I feel like I’ve barely slept this summer, which isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary but I saw more clearly how much that had an impact on me.

As far as taking initiative, that definitely worked out fantastically in one instance. By chance I wore a t-shirt for Electric Forest and somebody at Green Garage saw it and blah blah blah I got in touch with Drifter Coffee and went with them to the festival this year and helped them sell coffee.I’ll remember that very fondly, but also it served as an amazing reminder to keep your head up and eyes open and always be open to talk to people. I got to get to know some amazing people who live here, and got to have some hilarious conversations with the customers.

I think I’m satisfied with how much of Detroit I was able to experience, albeit it was hard to form a strong relationship with a local community other than the Green Garage community. I definitely could’ve spent more time doing consistent activities in Detroit like volunteering at a community garden, I definitely thought I’d do that. But I’m happy with how much time I spent hanging out with people and making new friends with amazing people. I won’t use names because I don’t want to miss anybody, I’m feeling all nostalgic now. Anyways, I got to enhance my understanding of social issues, especially those heavily pertaining to an urban setting and that has been amazing. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is.

I didn’t really know what to expect coming in. My only interactions with Detroit had been about 20 hours of volunteering in Delray and reading the book Detroit City is the Place to Be. I think what was a surprise is that all 8 hours of the day that you’re at work aren’t spent working. Makes sense, but coming from working in a restaurant that isn’t the case. Cool to realize though, it was nice taking an hour for lunch rather than 10 minutes.

I love Detroit. It’s such a culturally rich place that I couldn’t hope to have a full understanding of everything. I’ve grown and learned so much, but I’m losing steam so this is all I’ll say. You know how every so often you’ll look back at yourself a few months or year(s) and think hooo boy I’m glad I’ve grown into being a better and closer to whole person? I feel that but looking back at right before the program. If any future program cats are reading this, there’s so much to gain from getting to know the rest of the cohort.

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