Week 10 Reflections – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 10 Reflections

I’m very confused about the fact that 10 weeks in Detroit have already passed.

I’ve tried to write the first paragraph of this reflection letter several times, and I’ve been having a lot of trouble with it. Living and working in Detroit has been an overwhelming positive and worthwhile experience, and I can say that with certainty, but I’m not sure if it met my expectations or not. In my first letter, I was optimistic but I didn’t specify my goals very clearly. But if anything, I think I was pleasantly surprised by my experience as a whole this summer.

My internship was not exactly everything I though it would be. I’m not sure my Spanish skills improved too much and “community organizing” still feels like a buzzword. However, I am so grateful for how immersed in the culture of Southwest Detroit I was able to be and how accepting and warm all my coworkers were. I was able to form close friendships with nearly everyone I worked with and learn all about their lives and the experiences they had that led them to want to give back to the Southwest community. That is an opportunity I wouldn’t trade for anything and I am confident I will stay in touch with everyone I worked with this summer.

Beyond that, I learned how non-profits as a whole function. Before this summer started, I thought that I might want to pursue non-profit work after graduation. I want a career where I’m helping people in some capacity and I also really value forming personal relationships with people, so I thought non-profits or some type of social work might be a good plan for me. After working at a non-profit for 10 weeks, I realized I was wrong about that. I don’t like that all programs have to be based off of what grant money is available and that there’s very limited job security. It also felt like we were spending huge sums of money to reach very few people. This might not be the optimal takeaway from this program, but I definitely see myself working in a top-down approach like policy in the future instead of a non-profit (although I think both top-down and bottom-up approaches are equally important and necessary!)

On a more personal note, this summer was literally the first time I’ve lived outside of Ann Arbor or really had to take care of myself in any capacity. I’m proud to say that I’m now a pretty good cook and I re-learned how to ride a bike so I could keep up with everyone who wanted to go places! I think I’ve been very self-sufficient this summer which is honestly a great feeling. I learned that not everyone functions the way I do and not everyone wants to be out and about all the time, and that’s perfectly fine. I learned to listen more. I learned that I really could see myself living in Detroit after graduation.

I’m definitely missing a few points that I was thinking before I started writing this, but I guess I’ll end it here. Thank you for everything DCBurp, Jenna, and Detroit.

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