My name is Josie and I am a rising senior studying Sociology and Spanish. I am passionate about music, art, and public interest law and I plan on attending law school after I graduate (I am hoping to consolidate my passions into one career ;).
To me, community is about comfort. A community is what makes one feel safe and supported. For my first job in high school, I worked at a community center for Burmese refugees and their families; it was here that I learned much of what I know about community work. Since starting my education at the University of Michigan, I have had the opportunity to be an intern for 2 years at a community center in Ypsilanti. At both of these community centers, comfort was a common characteristic. Residents would lean up against the front desk and chat for a few minutes about whatever was on their mind. Children would enter the front doors and, almost immediately, find someone they could play with or some type of ball they could throw around. At both community centers, there was a feeling as though the building was simply an extension of the home. Sure, there were tutoring programs, ESL classes, legal services, etc, but it was the solid relationships and the sense of belonging that made these places ‘community’ centers.
The times I spent at these community centers attracted me to doing more community work, and I became interested in Detroit after taking a class in and about the city of Detroit. It was a collaborative, ‘community’ classroom that included students from Wayne State and UMich, as well as community members and activists. We listened to and learned from one another, and discussed the ideal future of Detroit from the perspective of community members. A skill I learned from this class, which I know will help me at my internship with HOPE Village, was using my imagination to generate ideas/solutions. As students, we were tasked with imagining a Detroit without police; it was hard to push away my prior experiences and beliefs about police but it was invigorating to explore new potentials.
Over the next couple months, I hope to spend a lot of time getting to know community members and vendors at HOPE Village Farmers Market. To me, a rich and rewarding internship experience includes building relationships and making connections; I would be especially proud at the end of DCERP if I was able to accomplish this.