Wow, I can’t believe that we’ve reached the end of the Detroit Community Based Research Program. I remember being accepted into the program and being excited about my journey working in Detroit, a city that’s become somewhat unfamiliar to me within the past couple of years. While reading my first blog post, I became reminiscent about trying to figure out how I would be able to maneuver around Detroit and become adjusted to the many changes that have been made in the Midtown/Downtown area. I was apprehensive, yet excited about this new task. Ontop of learning to how to become accustomed to Detroit’s on going revitalization, I also had to take on the role of being the Health Fair Coordinator at my site placement. The health fair was a responsibility I took pride in and wanted the event to flourish and prosper. Because of this, I spent days fully retaining the information I was given by not only my supervisor, but the community members of Parkside as well.
First and foremost, I learned that when planning an event for the community, you must have community members involved in the planning process. A health fair committee was put into place in the beginning of my time at Friends of Parkside in order to delegate how various aspects of the health fair would be handled. The committee consisted of healthcare professionals, students like myself and community members. My supervisor emphasized importance of community involvement because it empowers and integrates people from different backgrounds, creates a local network for community members, and increases trust in the community organization. Having community members on the health fair committee assisted in creating different solutions for attendance increase by Parkside residents. I will take this lesson with me in my future work of community organizing.
Living in Detroit for the summer was very refreshing. There’s so much to do in the city, and that was proven to me through our weekly group meetings and excursions. From riding our bikes around downtown Detroit to visiting the National Arab American museum, I participated in activities that I never would’ve thought about doing if it wasn’t for the DCBRP. My perception about the gentrification of Detroit has not changed, especially since having the experience of taking the Q-Line, a public transportation system that was supposed to benefit Detroit citizens. Many changes have been made, and are still being made, in the downtown and midtown area. Yes, it looks good on the outside, but on the inside is the systematic social and economic prejudice against people who live in Detroit. However, living in the city has made me think about my post-grad plans. Maybe living in the midtown or downtown area doesn’t sound too bad. 🙂
Overall, I truly enjoyed my time in the Detroit Community Based Research Program. It gave me break from Ann Arbor and and the busy schedule school implies (even though I was very busy this summer too!). Working in Detroit sharpened many professional and community skills that I will take with me from here on out. I met so many great people in this program and I hope that we keep in touch. Lastly, I truly appreciate my program advisor, Jenna, for giving me the opportunity to be apart of this diverse and intelligent cohort. Until next time!