On Detroit | #5

To future SiD students,

Welcome to Detroit! A city filled with a rich history and a vibrant but complex future. With shows at the nearby venues and restaurants with food from El Salvador to Vietnam, there is hardly time to sit and watch the world go by. Kind people greet you on the street with “what up doh?” and a smile. Something that is hard to comeby in Ann Arbor, eye contact as you walk down the streets. The native Detroiters acknowledging everyone’s existence because “we are all instruments in the symphony that is this magnificent city; alone we may make some noise but together we are beautiful”. The unity in this resilient city is one that is often forgotten in today’s world of DIY and independence. These people know that, like oak trees, we must hold tight to each other’s roots in order to persist the many storms that have tried to decimate the city, and those that will come after. You see I say tried, the race riots of 1943, the rebellion of 1967, the bankruptcy, white flight, deindustrialization, and this new wave of urban renewal cannot break the effervescent soul of Detroit. This city is filled with unparalleled energy, and there are so many people doing so many amazing things outside of the 7.2 miles that is Downtown/Midtown.

Explore! During your time in the Motor City, ride a bike. One of my favorite parts of this summer has been getting #bikegang together and exploring the parts of the city we usually would not see driving quickly by in a car. Together riding through the city we would laugh about our dad-like supervisor Craig, and talk about the thought provoking lessons learned in class. Community is very important to me. I am a big believer in interdependence, the dependence of two or more people on each other. We as humans must look out for each other and have each others’ back if we want to get through this wild but precious journey. The community that was fostered through Semester in Detroit was built on laughter, dancing, the roof, late-night trivia, icebreakers, tacos, trust, activism, and the unsaid love that sometimes means the most. Get close with the group of people that you are experiencing the city with and talk about what you see and feel. The city can be overwhelming in the greatest way possible. Instead of retreating when you reach the edge of your comfort zone, jump! The best things lie outside of what you have always known.

Pay attention in the classes. Three hours can seem to drag on, but the information presented in your classes on Detroit are things that will not be heard from the outside world. I have lived twenty minutes away from Detroit my whole life. I knew nothing outside of the 7.2. During this semester I have learned more about this city than I ever had. I also gained new knowledge about myself during this summer. After a tough winter semester I was in desperate need of something. During my semester in Detroit I rediscovered my passions, my candle of motivation was relit by this city.

Be open to growth and being uncomfortable. More than anything, take it all in. Be present in the moment.  Put down your phone and listen. Be present not just physically but mentally do not be stuck back in Ann Arbor. Be fully present in Detroit, do not overanalyze the past and fear the future. Trust the people, through that they will become trustworthy. Accept change, transform yourself to help change the world.The famous Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs said: “Revolution is evolution towards something much grander”. Do not be afraid of your personal evolution, accept it with open arms.


Bike Gang & Roof Hangs,

Allyssa Garza

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