Week 4: Building Bridges – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 4: Building Bridges

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.

3 thoughts on “Week 4: Building Bridges”

  1. Gabrielle,
    I like the idea of “Getting to Know You” days! It is true, even when kids of different backgrounds and ethnicities live in the same neighborhood, they often have the closest ties and spend the most time with those who are similar to them. Schools and community programming (like what you are doing) are a great way to build relationships across these differences; a safe place to keep up existing relationships and explore new ones.

  2. Ataia Templeton

    Thank you for sharing this with our cohort. I know how intimidating being in a more diverse or different community is. I experienced a similar feeling coming onto campus fall semester of freshman year. I think it is great that you have experience with this and would like for the students to have this experience earlier than you have. Being able to challenge assumptions from our socialization leads to a sort of strength and ability to empathize with others, regardless of differences. I am really excited for you.

  3. Hi Gabrielle!

    I love your honesty with this post. It’s really interesting that you feel intimidated by all of the cultures surrounding your placement. In reality, being an Arab woman myself, being around Arab people is me at my most comfortable state. It’s really interesting to see how our life experiences shape our placements and POV’s as we embark on our career, education paths, etc. I love your idea to bridge the cultural gaps between the kids by doing get to know you days. That seems like a really great idea and I’d love to hear about it.

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