I went to Detroit, a big city known for its steep fall into bankruptcy, and being left to oversee their own reconstruction. A city not defined by their population, economy, or diversity, but by the hope that the citizens still have after everything that has happened. That’s pretty unconventional if you ask me.
I had the privilege to help serve in Detroit for eight days with various non-profits. I saw firsthand what the people of Detroit are doing to help get their city back on its feet. What really struck me was how positive and warm the people are. I mean, you would think that if your city took a long fall down the stairs of bankruptcy you would be a little disheartened. But that is not the case in Detroit, people are still looking to tomorrow and being present to help in any way that they can. My group and I were introduced to the strong sense of community and pride that Detroit has and we had an opportunity to be a part of it. Whether it was playing basketball, volunteering our time to help paint boards, playing with kids, or just talking to the people whole lived in the neighborhoods. It was compelling to be around because I had never seen anything quite like it in my life.
Another memorable experience I had during my time in Detroit, though it may seem basic, was getting to know the leaders and other members of my team. I loved meeting and talking to everyone in my group and having other people to talk to about the experiences we all had during the course. We never ran out of things to talk about. I am grateful I was able to spend my Student Shoulder to Shoulder with those who were there. I also am grateful to the leaders who did an incredible job of making everyone feel welcome and heard, as well as planning an exciting itinerary for us when we weren’t volunteering. I really appreciated how much of Detroit I was actually able to see, even though I was there for only a week.
All of the experiences I had in Detroit are too many and special to share, but each moment pointed me into the direction of hope. I saw firsthand what it looks like to not give up and to stay positive. I couldn’t help but feel proud of the people of Detroit and I want to take that same positively to my home. I also learned the importance of being grateful. But the most important thing my trip to Detroit taught me was the importance of community. The only way to get better is to be together. I am taking all these lessons Detroit taught me back to my own school and life, and I am excited for the impact it will make.