Week 2 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 2

As my second week at 826michigan comes to a close, I am starting to understand what the rest of this internship will entail. I have laid out three “SMART Goals” (SMART is an acronym, it’s basically a work plan for how to achieve my goals and complete my projects for the internship). I have also gotten a greater sense of how the culture is at my workplace. For example, I have a lot of availability to work from home, or come into the office for a few hours and do the rest from home. The reasoning behind this is “working smarter, not harder”, so if it’s not necessary to come in, it’s better not to bother with the commute. I thought that I would like the ability to work from home, and sometimes it is nice as the flexible hours allow me to sleep in, but I kind of prefer having more structure.

826michigan’s mission is “inspiring school-aged students to write confidently and skillfully with the help of adult volunteers in their communities”. This is a noble mission, and I see it in the culture of the organization, with all the fun programs and events that I have been a part of as well as the ones that we are planning. However, I think that The 826 Stand (pictured below), which is a statement from the national branch of the organization, shows the organization’s values best. It’s a long statement, so I’ll link it here. In summary, it stands for the rights of our students to write and be supported, safe, and creative. The Stand hangs in our writing centers in both English and Spanish. It’s really inspiring to see what 826michigan believes and to see them inspire communities through writing. I’m grateful to have the chance to be a part of helping this organization reach its mission and provide an impact for its students.

My research project revolves around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) focused volunteer recruitment. 826michigan relies on adult volunteers. However, the demographics of our volunteer base (mostly white) does not match up with our students (mostly brown and black). I will do research into how to recruit more volunteers of color, because students want to see people who look like them succeeding. I will also research how to frame volunteering as a way to undo white supremacy, as volunteering is often seen as a form of white supremacy. I will be designing a new cultural sensitivity training for volunteers, as our current one uses POC as educational tools. Clearly, these problems have been around forever, given the history around race in America, so I am unsure if this research project will be helpful. However, I agree that this is an important issue, so I will try my best in this role.

4 thoughts on “Week 2”

  1. Dennis Morrison

    It was nice to read this. Due to the fact writing was such a big factor in your project and writing is a big factor in my life through self reflection. I admire how you all stand for students right to have the freedom of speech and express that through their creativity. I can’t wait to see the things created in that program.

  2. Diamond Buchanan

    Hi Sarah!

    I am just like you, I strongly enjoy structure so being in an office environment works best for me. I actually find that I am more productive around others who are working instead of being alone in my room working. The fact that your placement is thinking about DEI initiatives and has both languages for the Stand is amazing. You work on cultural sensitivity is extremely needed and I am wishing you a boatload of luck with that!


  3. Josephine Kate Graham

    Hello Sarah! First, the SMART goals–I also had to write them, and it truly helped Carson and I to condense our ambitions for the summer into manageable statements. Second, I believe your research is helpful and important, even if it has been done before. Really, all research has been “done” before–we are constantly building upon the work of others who came before us. Do not doubt the impact you are having on this organization. I am impressed by the work you are doing in recruiting a more representative volunteer staff, and it is little steps–like what you are working towards–that help to dismantle the big challenges of systemic oppressions.

  4. Kenneth Ray Washpon

    sdvsfmmmSarah, I think what your org is doing is indeed noble. I hope to hear more about your experiences throughout the program!

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