Hi everyone! My name is Kirsten Birman, and I am a rising senior at U of M majoring in Spanish and International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Culture and Identity (CCI). This summer, I am incredibly excited to be working with Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), a nonprofit organization that provides critical health and housing services to vulnerable populations in Detroit!
To me, a community is a group of people with some sort of shared characteristic which bonds them through mutual lived experiences. In short, we are all part of many different communities simultaneously, both through the identities we hold and our interests. I was drawn to doing community work in Detroit because despite living in Michigan all my life, I know very little about the area and the people living there. As an International Studies major, we are constantly encouraged to pursue work with international populations and cultures, but there are places in the U.S. that can often feel like another world entirely. Throughout my time working with NSO, my hope is to use the past experiences I have had while volunteering on Alternative Spring Breaks to try to understand the community members and enhance my understanding of the interconnectedness of both the issues and strengths that the homeless population of Detroit has.
I also hope to spend some time this summer reflecting on myself and my interests to identify what type of nonprofit work I hope to do in the future. At this time next year, I will be graduated from the university, and while it feels intimidating now, it also opens up a door for me to begin my career in the nonprofit sector. Because this is my first time ever working for a nonprofit organization, I am really looking forward to all of the knowledge and experience that I will have gained at the end of these 9 weeks. More than anything, it would make me extremely proud at the end of this program if I am able to create sustainable change with NSO that can continue to support the organization and the people they serve after I am gone.