Introductions – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program


Hi Everyone!

My name is Manar Aljebori and I am a rising Junior majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and minoring in Social Class and Inequality. I have lived in Dearborn Heights most of my life and would consider it to be my first community. I know the people here, the schools here, the stores and restaurants, and have even memorized which potholes to avoid (there are many). My first day in Ann Arbor I realized that a community can be so much more than just the city I was raised in.

Community now means to me everything and everyone that I am involved with. My community can be as small as this DCERP group that I am so excited to get to know or as big as every student in the College of LSA. Community is so important because it provides a support system that is filled with people who share some similarity with you and understand what you are going through.

Growing up five minutes away from Detroit and seeing its uniqueness daily attracted me to do community work in Detroit. My earliest memories are from Saturdays at the Eastern Market and summer days at the riverwalk. I would consider the older Detroit to be my community. Now the places that I used to drive past daily have completely changed in the last decade. I am learning more about how these changes are affecting the residents of Detroit and I want to learn how to stop these affects. I want to do community work in Detroit so I can do something positive for Detroiters living outside the new Downtown.

Previously I have worked with students from marginalized communities on their online schooling during the pandemic. I have been able to relate to these first generation students who are growing up in poverty with parents that are trying their best to just get by. This experience taught me compassion, which I believe is most important in doing community work. It taught me to never judge people because you never understand what they are going through. I think this is going to be important as I intern at Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision because I will be working closely with residents who have been ignored for many years. I cannot wait to start working with SDEV and the residents from that community as I know I will learn many skills from them. One skill that I am already learning from them is how to be a compassionate listener. I hope to be an expert at this skill and I hope I make even the smallest positive impact in Southwest Detroit by the end of this summer. I would be happiest knowing my research will protect the health of the residents living in the most polluted areas of Southwest Detroit.

I have high hopes for this summer and am so excited to start working with everyone at SDEV, DCERP, and in Detroit!

5 thoughts on “Introductions”

  1. Your experience and background seems like it will be really valuable for the work you are doing this summer! It’s so interesting that you have actually witnessed the changes happening in Detroit over the years. I’d love to hear more about the work you did previously with helping students navigate virtual education, as education is something I hope to pursue in some sense in the future. I can’t wait to get to know you better!

  2. Hi Manar,
    I like your definition of community; support systems play a crucial role in providing opportunities for community members and ensuring everyone’s success! I would like to hear about your experience working with students from marginalized communities during the pandemic, I did something similar and tutored ESL students on zoom for the past few months. Best of luck at your site this summer 🙂

  3. Gabrielle Lilly

    Hi Manar! Simply by reading this post, I can tell how passionate you are for working towards social justice. Like you, my parents would take my siblings and me to Eastern Market on Saturday morning and my favorite place – Belle Isle. Obviously I noticed the changes around the city, but never thought much into how the people within the community were being impacted and if their needs were being met. After reading, you are the perfect fit for this type of work. You are compassionate, empathetic, but most importantly you are driven. I truly felt inspired after reading this, and I am so beyond excited to see the work you do for people of Detroit this summer!

  4. Hey Manar; I really enjoyed reading your post! I sympathize with you on seeing the gentrification happening in Detroit. This was a conversation a lot of my high school teachers and I used to have. I remember places I would see driving to school everyday now completely converted and unrecognizable–it’s really sad. I hope your project at SDEV goes well!

  5. Hi Manar, it was really awesome hearing about your work with students from marginalized communities. From the way you write, I can tell you are a really compassionate person and that the work you’ll be doing with SDEV is very Important. As a native Detroiter, I have noticed the change and gentrification over time as well. I look forward to hearing more about your progress and project.

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