Week 1: Welcome to DCERP! – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 1: Welcome to DCERP!

June 3rd-the move-in of DCERP. I quickly packed all of my items, and my tote bags filled to the brim with t-shirts, shorts, and summer dresses. My snack bin rattled with goodies as I placed it in the back of my car, already stuffed with miscellaneous items such as a small vacuum, a lone paper towel roll, and a black kettle.

My name is Chinwe! I am a coming up sophomore studying biology with a minor in environmental science, and I specifically want to dive into something environmental-health related. I love to read, write, and also bake (usually when the ingredients come in a box). My project for DCERP is Keep Growing Detroit, an urban farm whose mission is to strive for a food sovereign city and also connects farmers and youth to gardening/educational opportunities. 

I remember when I first learned about DCERP, I was scrolling through the UROP website, looking for potential experiences I could embark on this summer. A bolded headline caught my eye: Detroit Community Engaged Research Program, a 9-week summer program to engage students to take on various social justice causes with non-profits all over the Detroit area. I scrolled down to look at the necessary application items and requirements. University of Michigan student? Check. Before January 16th? Check. 

One of the most pivotal words that are comprised of the acronym DCERP is the second letter C, which stands for community. What someone defines as a community is a necessary part of how they see not only themselves but the world around them. For me, to be in a community means not only one’s physical address or location per se but rather the sense of commitment and support that comes from the people themselves. A community can foster change, growth, advocacy, and social justice. As someone who moved a lot growing up, I never truly felt a sense of ‘community’, blaming it on the changing of my physical address. However, what DCERP has taught me even in the beginning days is that community is not just a physical location, but rather the connections made with those who share similar goals, dreams, issues, or passions. 

While the needs of one own’s community are important, it is also critical to take a look outside and see the vast needs that are represented by so many other communities. That is why programs such as DCERP are significant, to get out of one’s shell and see how they can service those who may come from different backgrounds and experiences. One strength that I hope to develop during this program is coming out of my box and learning how to combine both research and community work equitably. I wish to serve the community in a way where my actions are not intended to make myself ‘feel good’, but rather help the community in the best way possible. 

5 thoughts on “Week 1: Welcome to DCERP!”

  1. Hi Chinwe!! I absolutely loved reading about your definition of community and how it is connections-based. I definitely agree and have witnessed the truth in that this past week while in DCERP and at my community site, NSO. Whenever I feel homesick or am longing for a community, I am almost never wishing for a specific geographic location, but rather a group of people I can connect with and feel at home with. In just a week, we have shared our goals and passions with each other and I think that has been very important for building a community here in Detroit. I also want to learn how to combine research and community work in a meaningful way this summer and I can’t wait to update each other on how that goes!

  2. Hi Chinwe! I agree with your definition of community a lot, as it’s really less of a physical or concrete presence and more of the connections formed between members of a community. Combining research and community work in my own project is something I’m also working towards, and I’m excited to hear more about your project in the next couple of weeks! (Okay I already told you this in person, but just have to add how much I loved the way your blog post was structured in such an engaging way, especially your intro paragraph and your transitions).

  3. Hi Chinwe! It’s been nice meeting you. I really like your definition of community as not just a physical location but also a feeling that follows you no matter where you go. Excited to see the great things you do with you org this summer 🙂

  4. Hi Chinwe, it was so great to meet you this week, I totally agree with the aspect of having to move a lot when you are younger so you never really find your community but I also can understand how community is a lot more than just your location but rather the connections you form no matter the amount of time or place.

  5. Hi Chinwe. I also moved a lot growing up so for a long time I felt the same way too. I’m glad you have the opportunity through DCERP to explore and engage with what you define communities as now!

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