Wrapping Up – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Wrapping Up

As DCBRP wraps up, it’s interesting to look back on my thoughts from the first week of the program. Time has gone by so quickly, and there are still so many things I wish I had time to do. While I was very hopeful that I would get to practice some of my Spanish this summer, fewer opportunities presented themselves than I had hoped. There was one fairly cool moment I had in the staff kitchen though, that I think made up for the lack of frequent exposure to the language. Midsummer my coworkers were chatting in the kitchen in Spanish, and I realized they were plotting a plan for a gift for our boss. I don’t want to reveal any details about the gift in case she’s reading this, but the nouns, adjectives, and phrasing they were using all caught my attention. I totally understood what they were saying and it was A GREAT idea! I was so glad to chat with them about different ideas to expand, and also use some Spanish in the process. While I wish there were more moments like that in the summer, I’m also very grateful to have been there for that moment.

Going into the summer, I was very curious about what role I could play in Detroit. My mother having grown up here, and frequently visiting her family in the city as I grew up, Detroit felt like more a part of my past than present or future. While I’m not sure my perceptions of Detroit have entirely changed, I think my views of a future in Detroit have strengthened. Before I hadn’t been sure about how much time I would spend in Midtown versus surrounding areas, or of the people I’d meet and culture I’d discover in the city as a whole. What I found, I’m not sure I can put into words that describe it in entirety, so I think I’ll just share one of my favorite things I’ve discovered.

Everywhere you go in the city, there’s a hype squad. Detroit has some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met, and at the many many meetings I’ve attended around the city this summer, there never failed to be a person(if not multiple) there to amp up the room. While at first I was a bit thrown off guard but the shouts of support and agreement as others spoke, now, they fill me with joy, hope, and a sense of community different from anything I’d experienced in Ann Arbor. It’s interesting how empowering simply experiencing agreement, and hearing someone else voice exactly what you were thinking can be. I think this phenomenon has extra gravity in Detroit because, for many, they live in a city actively trying to displace them. I can only imagine if lawmakers, in Detroit and Michigan at large, truly listened to the community here. What if the support that echoes the halls of town meetings was actually integrated into the infrastructure of the city? While for now, the supportive community fills me with joy, this Detroit, one designed with for and by its people, is the Detroit I would be honored to live in one day.

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