The one thing I love about Hamtramck is the diversity. But this is also something I find intimidating.
I am from Berkley, MI, a suburb of Detroit. My neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods are predominantly White with a strong Black presence as well. As a result, I have spent most of my life surrounded by White individuals. I have grown comfortable in a predominately White environment and know the “cultural” norms in such a setting.
Coming to Hamtramck was a bit intimidating. I was now in a neighborhood with such diverse residents from cultural backgrounds I was unfamiliar with. There are certain things while working in City Hall that I have recognized to help be accommodating to all the different cultural and ethnic residents. For instance, signs and posters throughout City Hall are trilingual (English, Arabic, and Bengali), there is at least one employee who is bilingual to help ease any language barrier, and events planned are attempted to be coordinated around any important cultural events.
During a conversation I had with the City Manager about the Summer Youth Program, she mentioned a part of the program is to help the students bridge cultural gaps. During her time as City Manager, she noticed how many of the kids throughout the neighborhood would hang out with other kids from similar backgrounds. In order to allow the students to embrace their cultural differences and see similarities amongst each other, I am planning “Getting to Know You” days for the Summer Youth Program. I want the students to be given the opportunity to challenge their assumptions of different cultures and develop a more genuine understanding of cultures other than their own.