This trip was designed to help those of us who went, learn to lead, facilitate, and help even when we don’t think we can. We experienced all of these things within the two short days that we were there. The first day we met with the students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. Here was get assigned to a classroom where we facilitated a few activities for the students. Next we met with the butta and pilot students (much like a student council or NHS) where we taught them a few different games to play and how to run those.
We were then let loose to explore the city (kinda). We stayed as a group but we d=could relax and just enjoy the trip. Our group of 50 got a tour of Ford Field and its advertising company, Lowe Campbell Ewald, which is connected to the stadium. After that we got to eat (finally) at PizzaPapalis, which was heaven, but thats beside the point. Finally we were let loose within the Detroit Institute of Arts before we went to Central’s Global Campus office where we spent the night talking, watching March Madness, and surprisingly, sleeping.
The second day was dedicated to helping the city of Detroit itself. We meet up with the Blight Busters to help them with their ongoing project of creating urban gardens. After they gave us a run down of what our job was, we set out to spread mulch across the block. We worked there for 3 or 4 hours, successfully covering the whole area. I volunteered to be put on a different job, even though I didn’t know what I was going to do. I spent the last half of our time there picking trash off the side of the street and literally sweeping the streets of Detroit. After we had the accomplished out task, we set out for Mt. Pleasant, our time in Detroit completed.
LAS in the D was a very eye opening experience. The biggest part that shocked me was how wrong I was about the city and its people. I have never stayed in the heart of a city before, so of course I came into the trip thinking I was going to see something completely different than I had. I had the typical “Detroit is run-down and filled with crime” stigma in my head. Having been there now and seen the inter workings of the city, I now disagree with that. The people that we encountered were some of the kindest people Ive ever met, the kids are full of potential and have dreams that are bigger than mine, and the city is not at all like the preconceived pictures of run down buildings that I had in my head.
The students and people of Detroit taught us a few things too. They showed us that not everyone is a part of stereotype and even though they may not have the same benefits I grew up with doesn’t mean that they should be looked down upon. While in Detroit I learned how to step, which was something that I had wanted to learn for a while. I also learned a lot about selflessness. The people at Blight Busters were not volunteering for their sake, they were volunteering because they wanted to change the lives of those around them and to create a safe neighborhood in the heart of Detroit.
I learned a lot from this experience. The people of Detroit taught me how to not judge a book by its cover, as it will most likely never be right. I also learned that a little thing can go a long way. The volunteers at Blight Busters were tackling a house at a time, but they were still making a big difference. I also learned a little bit about how to inspire others. The Blight Busters were working on cleaning up the parts of Detroit around them, but were making a bigger impact than they thought. People all around them were beginning to work to make their area a better place because they saw someone else doing the same thing. I also learned how similar I am to those who grew up in an area that may not have been as fortunate as I am. Even though we came from completely different places, we shared the same drive to help, mindset, and willingness to do whatever was needed of us. Looking back at my time at JRLA, I realize how lucky I was to grow up in a community that never had to wonder if they were going to spend the day at school without power or not, something that the JRLA students wondered on a daily basis.