My time in Detroit has come to a close and I’m in denial about it. There are a lot of things I am going to miss about living and working here. I think what is going to be the hardest to leave behind here, is the large variety of cultures I am surrounded by here. At Freedom House, I learn something new every day from the residents about their culture. The Program Director, TJ, recently told me that in his six years with the organization, residents from 72 different countries have lived in the house.
I’m going to miss listening to anecdotes from the resident about their country’s culture.
“We drink tea, never coffee.”
“She’s tough because she’s from the east side of my country. They’re tough in the east.”
I have also watched friendships between residents form despite language barriers. Two women in particular have bonded and will give each other a large hug and say “sister!” when they first see each other in the morning.
It can be intense at the house as well. Residents at Freedom House are no stranger to trauma and violence. I am grateful for the amount of love the staff at Freedom House put into their work. I worked directly with the social workers which means that I might encounter a case note or overhear a conversation on the phone that is hard to hear. That can be difficult to carry with you once you leave work, but the social workers continue to work their hardest. For the legal team, their time is spent compiling hundreds of pages of supporting evidence to include in the residents’ asylum application. There are also countless volunteers that come in every day to work with residents on their English, resumes, or assist with childcare. The Executive Director and Program Manager spend many hours across Detroit forming partnerships and advocating for the mission of the organization.
I am also grateful for the relationships I have formed with the residents. They show incredible love for each other and are the strongest people that I know.
Thank you, Freedom House!