Week 5: Closure is not the goal! – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 5: Closure is not the goal!

I have three main tasks for the summer that each have many smaller steps. Because of this, it’s hard to feel closure because my day’s work often does not come to a tangible end point. This is an adjustment that I am trying to approach with openness and grace. I am used to working to finish and submit assignments and then waiting for feedback (a grade). It feels uncomfortable to not have consistent deadlines and work more independently on various tasks that come up. Without frequent deadlines to make me feel like I’m staying on track, I feel behind, even though I’m doing a lot of work. 

I think it’s important for me to lean into this feeling of discomfort, especially since the point of community work is not to check boxes. I would like for my feel-good moments to come from the process of doing work and learning from others, not the submission of a finished product, despite the importance of deliverables. I don’t think there really is “closure” in community work, since there’s always more listening to be done, more perspectives to hear, and more improvements that will better serve the community. The issues they face are ongoing, and cannot be adequately addressed with any series of deliverables I could produce, so a personal feeling of closure for me should not be on my mind. I need to view myself as a visitor in a constantly moving and progressing space that I will progress with and work very hard for.

And personally, I think these long-term goals in my work will prepare me for the workforce. I base a little too much of how I feel off of validation from others (immediate academic validation being a main source of this). It feels nice to let go of that pressure and instead trying to go deeply into my work and learning as the motivator. 

Today I started interviewing people. Unlike interviews for a positions for myself which make me very nervous, my conversations are really all about the participant. I love how this is an opportunity for me to really tune in to the other person, listen, and learn without thinking about myself, other than making sure I am coming off in the right way. I also love to meet new people and learn about what they are all about.  

I really hit it off with the person I interviewed today. She was so nice and I felt like I had known her for a long time. We were both cracking jokes and I felt really grateful for her openness. One thing she mentioned was how the employee she worked with had gone above and beyond, and had supported her by providing extra information unrelated to the programs designated offerings. 

The Bridging Neighborhoods Home Swap program is such a complicated process. Deeds need to be switched and things get tricky with the end of the fiscal year that’s coming up. But the experience for the participants is anything but transactional. The holistic and personal approach, from what I’ve learned so far from speaking with participants, makes all the difference.

3 thoughts on “Week 5: Closure is not the goal!”

  1. I hear you on everything you said. It’s hard to come from backgrounds of efficiency and production and not think about deliverables all the time. I found it hard at first to not just go go go, but to actually learn from what I’m doing. At first, I didn’t like that I had so many meetings in a day because sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get all the work I had due done. But I leaned that these meetings are where I can actually meet community members and other organizations and learn more about community work. I’m happy you were able to realize this for yourself! The moments spent with the people are what you will really remember.

    – Aminata

  2. Hi Roomie!
    Thank you for sharing the struggles you’ve been feeling at work recently. Really impressed that you’re actively leaning into that discomfort and learning from it. You’ve inspired me to start thinking about how my activities in this program can help me succeed later in life.

  3. This is a really important realization, I think, for a lot of us. School work has developed a product-based culture. In particular, I find that engineering classes base a lot of your grade on just whether or not your project works by the deadline. There’s often a lot less partial credit for the things you did manage to accomplish, the things you learned, the challenges you’ve faced. Whenever I’ve tried to talk about it, I kind of get shut down, told that that’s how it works in “the real world.” That if you don’t have fully functional deliverable by a specific day, your work doesn’t have much value. I think this summer has really taught me that there’s truth in both arguments. Of course you need to keep working and accomplishing things, but sometimes, it can take longer for a project to reach it’s conclusion than you originally expected, and that’s okay. I’m glad to see that this has been other people’s experience as well.

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