Week 2: Friends, Feels, and Fellowship – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 2: Friends, Feels, and Fellowship

Hey, it’s Myla.

I’m working with Detroit Food Academy this summer (geographically closest to 826michigan, CDAD and SW Detroit). Detroit Food Academy (DFA) is a nonprofit organization that provides summer and school-year programs to middle and high school students interested in any part of food. DFA’s program is educational and covers many things: food injustice, nutrition, careers in food, physical fitness, land acknowledgement, and environmental justice are only a few examples. Ultimately, DFA’s mission is to contribute in accelerating the success of Detroit’s future leaders through holistic development. My role is to help create their curriculum and manage social media outreach and attendance.

For my summer research with DFA, I am going to research the effectiveness of creating safe spaces for middle and high school students through strategy and implementation. Currently, the organization sees emotional coaching as an opportunity for improvement in the scholars’ curriculum, especially discussing emotional causes. For example, when asking students how they are doing, they may say things like, “Great, my day is going great.” One goal is to have students elaborate on what causes their experiences to be great and help students build the skills of identifying, acknowledging and discussing emotions, their causes and how to handle them. To strategically measure effectiveness, I plan on curating pre and post survey questions with my mentors Julie and Tiffany, and work with my Summer Leadership Team to curate a curriculum that dedicates time to focus on emotional intelligence. A common saying is “food is love”, and one thing love is, is an emotion, so it is a key part of this culinary-entrepreneurial program for the future of Detroit.

I am enjoying getting to know my fellows more. Ray, for example, I interviewed with during the application process of this program. I enjoy listening to Ray’s contributions in our meetings and am looking forward to celebrating their impact together. Serena has an instantaneous, welcoming warmth and talking with them easily created a bond I feel will continue to be mutually beneficial. Lily has been a person I can talk to humbly: I feel there’s no judgement between us, even on topics that are traditionally ‘serious’ (i.e., politics). Totti has been a ray of sunshine to talk to about DCERP, and I can’t wait to open up broader conversation. Ataia’s admirable strength in speaking her mind has been a positive, inspiring influence on me to do the same. Maia reaching out to me to have lunch soon also makes me very happy as I’d love to connect with people with passions. I am looking forward to learning more people by name and face :).

My learning group is community organizing and consists of myself, Serena, and Lily. We are exploring different options for an event the DCERP community that we can organize and implement at least once during the program, and possibly early in the school year. We plan to continue looking at these options and researching what makes for a successful community-organized event.

Thanks for reading pal, come back next post!

3 thoughts on “Week 2: Friends, Feels, and Fellowship”

  1. Gabrielle Lilly

    Hi Myla! You have such a meaningful and important project. I love to hear about the incorporation of emotional coaching because often times I feel students are not always vocal about the emotional stress they may be under from school or personal reasons. I watched a film called Paper Tigers which followed an alternative high school’s approach to creating a trauma-informed curriculum. Here is a link to an info page for the film: https://kpjrfilms.co/paper-tigers/about-the-film/. Besides that, I am so excited to hear more about the progression of your project!

    1. Brooklynne GabrielleBates

      Hi Myla! I’ve never heard of DFA before, but it sounds amazing. My little brother is in 8th grade, and whenever I pick him up from school, I do my best to make a conscious effort of asking him thought-provoking questions. For example, instead of asking “How was your day?” I’ll ask “What made you smile today?”

      I hope we get the chance to meet, either in person or on Zoom sometime soon!

  2. Hi Myla!

    Your project is extremely important. Mental health and expressing feelings is especially important when children are growing up to be high schoolers, or just adults. Most people and schools don’t really value mental health, so it’s exciting to see you working in spaces that didn’t necessarily prioritize it before this. P.s. I wish this work was in person! My placement is CDAD and we could have met up after work and hung out! A girl can dream though. Good luck with your project!

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