DCBRP Blog Post Week II (6/10/19-6/14/19) – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

DCBRP Blog Post Week II (6/10/19-6/14/19)

Wow! Two weeks of adulting done: two full weeks of work (full-time work—say what?!); getting to know your cohort; helping to plan, prep, and cook meals; a refreshing weekend spent in Ann Arbor (which now feels so much like home) with your twin sister, college fam, and high school best friend…It has been a long, hard, but also enriching and positively full 14 days. While chowing down on a Cosmic Brownie (forgot these existed until I saw them at the Asian market down the road and could not resist), I’m going to reflect a little on my experiences so far in Detroit, specifically my work at LearnEarly and Arts Resurget with my work partner, Carson.

Most days, Carson and I spend our time at the hipster-ish, communal environment of TechTown (it reminded us, as Carson remarked when we had our first meeting with Jillian—our boss—there a few months back, of: “Gentrification!”), which is walking distance from Wayne and near the College of Creative Studies, where my sister goes to school. It’s a pleasant space with free coffee and tea (I’ve become more of a hot-tea person of late) and lots of young, well-dressed (I saw a woman rocking a lime green blazer) business people. There, Carson and I have spent our time 1) Learning more about LearnEarly and Arts Resurget’s mission, which to sum it up, is to support early childhood development and education through providing affordable and accessible STEAM + literacy workshops to the early learning (children ages 0-5 and their families) community across all seven districts of Detroit and 2) Initially planning our ten weeks out and plunging into all the work we hope to accomplish in a mere—now—eight weeks. It is a lot. Currently, Carson and I have three “SMART” goals we crafted with the help of Jillian. They really embody and sum up the many tasks we engage with on a daily basis. Here they are: 1) “To conduct an effective, low-cost and low-lift STEAM + literacy parent-child workshop at 30 empty to three star early learning and care programs across Detroit’s seven council districts”; 2) “To expand upon LearnEarly’s social media presence through rebranding, increased social media activity, online workshops, and increased following, heightening the impact and reach of LearnEarly in Detroit”; and 3) “To gain a deeper understanding of LearnEarly’s mission, influence, and impact on the community that allows us to create 3-4 complete workshops that are engaging, efficient, and educative, incorporating community feedback.” Carson and I have already made some head-way on our goals, with the help of Jillian and our other supervisor, Jean (she was a DCBRP participant three years ago, where she initially worked with Jillian). We continue to study LearnEarly’s existing materials. We started constructing our own STEAM + literacy workshop ideas/lesson plans; I am excited to hopefully see these through once we start conducting the workshops in July! We spent the past two days working on creating a flyer to send out to early learning care centers we hope to work with across Detroit. We got to volunteer at two care centers last week to familiarize ourselves with the age group we will be working with (we went to Belle Isle, I got to rock a baby to sleep, and I played an intense game of tag in which I was always it, among other things, with a bunch of kiddos). I could go on and on talking about our workdays, but I won’t, because I’m already long-winded enough (apologies guys).

What I’m realizing is the “real” world is a bunch of intersecting, jumbled tasks, whizzing around messily in my brain, that by the time I get home I’m ready to collapse on my bed with an aching neck from being on my computer for most the day. I’ve gained an increasing amount of respect for my parents. It beats me how they managed to work full-time while raising my sister and me. Sometimes I question how I’m going to be able to do it. Adult life is hard, and this isn’t even the real real real thing—just a tiny taste. I just have to remain positive and remember the love I have in my life, centering myself in gratitude and hope. It’s difficult, but I’m not alone; I know I can do it. It’s a growing process that’ll never end. A beautiful, chaotic, complex growing process.

Lastly (unlike the never-ending growth process of life, this has got to end), living in and traveling around Detroit has been an informative and transformative experience so far. Seeing so many locals working tirelessly every day to support their city inspires me, along with the character and various cultures filling every street. Again, it’s a lot to take in, but I am looking forward to getting to know Detroit even more in the coming weeks. If you actually read this, I appreciate it. Let’s hope my blog post for next week is shorter—but who are we kidding.

Josie (I’ve decided to sign all my posts going forward; these are becoming a sort of personal journal for me)

P.S. Here’s a link to Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership, Hope Starts Here: http://hopestartsheredetroit.org/ We got to attend one of their parent-led meetings—it was an incredible experience!

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