Week Four – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week Four

How is it already the end of week four???!

The theme of this weeks blog post is reflecting on culture. When I first started thinking about this I thought that it would be an easy thing to write about because Detroit is so full of vibrant and diverse cultures. Then I became a little overwhelmed thinking about what culture means in the context of where I am living and working. It feels so important that I don’t want to misrepresent it.

I feel very lucky to work in Southwest Detroit. It is a place where people are proud of where they live and also are proud of the culture they bring with them to this place. It is a place where Hispanic and Arab populations live side by side and are respectful of each other while creating authentic and deep communities that represent themselves. As far as cultural cues I’ve received from my work place I think it all comes down to respect.

I personally don’t often work directly with the community, I tend to be in the office more sending emails and working on the anti-idling campaign. However, one of my coworkers heads a project called Healthy Homes that assists families in our community that have children with asthma. She does an asthma risk-assessment and then buys products to help families mitigate those risks and explain to them how to use the products. On Wednesday she invited me to come to one of these visits with her and it was very exciting to meet an actual community member and see the impact of some of the work we do. On the way over she explained to me how difficult it can be to gain the trust of people living in the community who don’t speak any english, of those who are wary of outsiders, of those who have had family and friends impacted by ICE. Everything she does to gain the trust of these community members really boils down to respect. It manifests in listening to them, not pushing them, not judging them, answering their questions, delivering on your promises. Respecting that they are the owners of their community.

I’ve heard my public health professors say on many occasions that you are the expert of your life and I see that message reflected in the attitudes of my coworkers and I think that is the thing that we always come back to. Community members are experts of their community, people are experts of their lives.

This post became very long.

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