I have spent less than three months in Detroit, and already can see it as a future home. Fortunately, I had the privilege of learning about the city of Detroit, as part of the program I was part of. Semester in Detroit (SiD) not only enabled me to intern and live in Detroit, but also immerse myself in the city and learn about the community. I want to discuss some of the classes that I was able to take as part of SiD, and also explain how I was able to learn about the city outside of the classes. The first class was a Detroit History course, which discussed the the formation of Detroit from the 19th Century to now. This class was engaging because it was not just another history class, but more of a discussion. We were assigned readings and we would come back every other day to discuss the specific historical reading and be able to discuss the narratives of Detroit. We focused on two narratives that our professor believed mainly took the discussion when it comes to Detroit–the Rise & Fall narrative and the Community Narrative. Simply put, the first narrative says that Detroit was at its peak before the World Wars, with its booming population and the flourishing automotive industry. That city died out as the Civil Rights era took hold, with the 1967 Riots, the White Flight, and many other incidents that took place at this time. The second narrative discusses Detroit as a strong community regardless of the economy–a city always willing to fight together for the betterment of its community. These two narratives allowed me to be cautious as I informally discuss Detroit today with family and friends. Many state that Detroit is having another rise, but I would prefer to point out the community narrative that allows for this rise.
The second class that I took was on Community Organizing that allowed us to learn how we can create solutions through organizing. The main thing I learned from this course was that when we are in any city to do community work, we should allow the community members to be the front line and we must help them do whatever they see is necessary to improve their city. The final mini course was a mix of internship reflection and discussing current issues that Detroit is facing. That said, I was able to learn a lot about the city through my internship and outside events. The associate director would send us a list of weekly events, that consisted a diverse list from entertainment and fun to educational events. This allowed me to learn about Detroit from different angles and from a holistic perspective, which I think is important if you truly want to engage with a community. The nonprofit I have worked for during my internship are looking to hire me after graduation, so I would most definitely live in Detroit if the right opportunity presents itself!