Week One: Introductions – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week One: Introductions

Hello fellow Fellows! This is Cynthia coming at you live from the Student Center on Wayne State’s campus (because my site told me not to come in today (;-;)). It’s been an interesting first few days for sure, and it’s been awesome getting to meet some of you finally. I hope to chat with everyone soon! (I finally had caffeine this morning so bear with me.)

In talking about “community,” I think of both the communities we are born into and those we enter willingly during our lives. I also tend to conflate “community” with “identity,” so when I say “community” it means that I either partially or strongly identify with a community and am willing to label myself as part of one. That being said, I’m super proud to be a part of this DCERP community with you all as determined, intelligent, and highly compassionate individuals. In doing community work here in Detroit, I’m also excited to learn from this community about how to interact with other communities as a curious outsider, as well as how to synthesize my outside experiences with the already developed wisdom of Detroit to potentially create something new.

As I mentioned during our first group meeting, I’m working with Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) to bring a Future Educators Club into their middle/high schools. The team I’m working with is building a huge network of programming into DPSCD to grow their pipelines of talented educators, especially educators with deep Detroit roots that match the demographics of the communities the schools serve. I’ve been learning so much about DPSCD, the team’s initiatives, and the causes and solutions that have gotten Detroit schools where they are and what will get them where they’re headed.

Thankfully, working in education/academia tends to follow the same model as learning in academia. And thanks to my having started my Sociology honors thesis last semester, I’m very familiar with how my site coordinators want me to carry out my research. This prior knowledge will make me much more comfortable in conducting research and knowing what questions to ask if I get stuck. Additionally, I hope that the proposal/program I’m being asked to write for this project will help me next academic year when I write up my complete honors thesis.

Academically/Professionally, it would make me incredibly proud to have a tangible program proposal completed by the end of DCERP. I’ve felt a lot of imposter syndrome around research over the past semester, and I’m so grateful to have extremely supportive mentors from my community site helping me to carry out this project. Personally, I would be so proud if I would be happy to visit again Detroit after this experience on my own time, bringing friends and family with me. I grew up in a low socioeconomic, white, rural community in West Michigan that tends to demonize urban centers like Detroit. I’ve already shared some of my site-given readings with my mom, and I want to be able to persuade the community I was born into to not be afraid of this city. While in DCERP, I want to cultivate a strong sense of understanding of Detroit so that I can advocate on its behalf to people who grew up like me.

2 thoughts on “Week One: Introductions”

  1. Hi Cynthia,
    The research/work that you will be doing this summer sounds so interesting. I especially love the emphasis on finding educators with deep Detroit roots. I am excited to learn more about your project and what you are doing this summer as the weeks go by.
    I also admire your goals for this program and what you hope to accomplish this summer. Having these conversations with your parents and those from your community can have such a large impact and I truly wish you the best!

  2. Hi Cynthia!
    I really appreciate your discussion of community as it relates to identity. Normally, when I hear the word “community” I think of the big picture – a literal group of people that fit together in some way. Your post reminded me that when we talk about a community that we are a part of, we are often thinking about who we are and our place within that community, not just the group as a whole. I also think your project sounds really cool, and I look forward to see what you accomplish.

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