Week 9: I Spell Osborn Correctly Now – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 9: I Spell Osborn Correctly Now

I just remembered this week that I misspelled Osborn my first day of work. I signed into my building (which I definitely didn’t have to do) with the explanation, “intern at Osborne Neighborhood Alliance.” I’m better than that, now, I promise. Smoother.

I stand by my thought in my first letter that people have welcomed me way more than they had to. Even more than I even began to feel then. For the last month, I’ve gotten to work beside a high school intern. We’ve watched YouTube tutorials on drawing noses, complained about family, bonded over working toward a car, I’ve almost pretended to be her adoptive sister for a field trip…. When I moved to the other side of the building this last week to concentrate on my project and escape the AC, she even sat with me in solidarity. She’s unbelievably kind. She had other friends working in the building and still hung out with me! I never felt exoticized, either, as I hope she didn’t. She never flat-out asked me about my life, and I didn’t hers: we just chatted and found common groundI loved my time with her so, so much.

When I wrote in that first letter that I want to grow in skills I can’t name yet, I didn’t think about when I’d actually be able to name them. I don’t think I’m able to now. I’ll find out later, like appreciating elementary school as a college student. I do feel like I know a lot more about Detroit than I did, but don’t feel satisfied with my understanding, like I clearly thought I could when I discussed understanding Detroit pride. Detroit’s state is so much more complicated than I thought even after reading How to Kill a City. (What? One book can’t teach it all to someone who started from nothing?!) Good thing I got more book recommendations at work and will be in the area for the next two years. Let’s hope this’ll come to feel like my elementary school education of Detroit.

I mentioned in my first letter that I felt the strong, even frustrating desire to throw at ONA all of my skills. That feels naive and even arrogant to me now. Coworking is much more nuanced. It takes respecting boundaries, humbly and patiently discovering other people’s wisdom, and reprioritizing based on others’ needs. I appreciate the opportunity to practice these and to find that I really need to continue to practice them. I definitely need to train out whatever sometimes made me feel defensive of my project to my own organization–not helpful, Emma.

On the one hand, I feel pretty refreshed in appreciating school, because I know it gives me more to contribute. God, does reading regularly make such a difference in every part of life, I’ve decided again this summer. But I know I need many, many learning fronts. Helpfulness takes a lot.


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