Week 1: Asalam Alaikum! – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 1: Asalam Alaikum!


Asalam alaikum everyone! 

My name is Buraq Oral. I am a Muslim from Canton Michigan and a second-generation Turk. Growing up, I had 5 older sisters each of them more chaotic than the other. Being surrounded by such a large family, I had always valued the chaos and comfort of having a tight-knit community within my family. Whether it was preparing for dinner or just playing soccer in the backyard, the love, and values that we all shared were so important to me and my growth. 

Did I mention the chaos?

That’s why I chose the greeting “asalam alaikum” to start off my journey with DCERP. Asalam alaikum is a greeting that is understood and responded to in all corners of the Muslim world and it is no different here in Detroit. It directly translates to “peace be upon you” and for me is a reminder of the love that I share with my family, and now the DREAM community. The values of neighborliness and growth are values that I was raised on, and it is these very same values that drive the work of community organizers across Detroit. I find this to be especially true at DREAM, a non-profit that is combining community organizing with housing development with the goal of building a thriving and revitalized community on the Westside of Detroit. 

However, one thing that makes my work unique is that, alongside my work with DREAM, I am working with Dr. Perkins of Western Michigan University on her storytelling documentary showcasing and raising up community voices and stories. It is through this project that I get to have an in-depth view of what motivates this community toward a thriving neighborhood. In working on this documentary, I get to see the fast-paced nature of what it takes to get the “perfect shot” and the contrasts between the slow process that community work actually is. As someone who is more inclined towards the faster pace of filming, I hope to also further develop the sabr(patience) needed to be successful in the community organizing space. 

I am excited to bring all of you along on my journey with DREAM of Detroit, and hopefully, this experience will allow me to integrate myself into the Dream community and develop meaningful and beneficial relationships with community members and organizers while learning what it means to build a thriving community.  

2 thoughts on “Week 1: Asalam Alaikum!”

  1. Walaikum Assalam!
    I appreciate your stance and passion for your values. Because of that passion, I believe you will bring those values with joy to the communities you are working with and have a real impact with them. I really like what you said about developing patience and being in the moment with community members instead of just being there to get a good shot. I can’t wait to hear more about your project!


  2. Buraq, what a cool placement?!? It sounds like you are really going to get a unique view of what it is like to do PR/Communications work for a non-profit and what it is like to do housing work and community organizing. I am so excited to see what you accomplish (and hopefully get to view the documentary you are working on)!

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