Week 9 and What I am Thankful For….

Finally, the day that you thought that would never come. It is your last day at your placement, the showcase is tomorrow and after that you are headed up North for 3 weeks of friends, family, sunshine and beaches. You can’t wait. I am reflecting on the time that I have had at my Community Placement and Detroit this summer. This summer has been a tough one. This summer didn’t exactly pan out the way that you had anticipated. While most of it was out of your control, you still struggled. From not feeling like you completely measured up on your project all the way to the environment and the City of Detroit. And while you don’t necessarily see yourself settling in Detroit after this summer experience you are grateful for the time that you have had here. The time to learn of a place and culture that you always knew existed but never took the time to understand before. The events and programs that you had the privilege to attend and participate in during this summer have taught you lessons that you will carry with you throughout the rest of your career.

I would like to thank the activists, community members, co-workers, and people around the city who have been gracious enough to share their wisdom and welcome me into Detroit for this short time. When I think about what I am most thankful for from this summer, it would have to be the events/meetings that I attended. The programming of this summer is something that was a highlight for me and the Juneteenth event was no exception.

Before doing this program, I did not have any strong feelings or opinions about Detroit. Being a Michigan native, Detroit was simply somewhere my family and I occasionally came to watch football games while frequenting Greek Town. Or it was simply a
stop on a destination to somewhere else, but never the destination. As a result of this program my knowledge and opinions of Detroit have changed. I now see Detroit as a Tale of Two Stories. Two stories that are simultaneously existing and fighting to be told. When most people think of Detroit they think of Detroit as a forgotten city and it is only thanks to the recent development; that Detroit is the up and coming city that it is advertised to be. The problem with this dominant narrative is that it is only one story and just like there are always two sides to a coin, there are two tales to a city. This second story, the one that I and my fellow
interns have spent 9 weeks being immersed in. It is one of pain and struggle, full of complexity and Gentrification. On the surface Detroit may look like an abandoned wasteland but if one is just to peel back the layers they would find a buzzing life and energy that has always existed here. One of creativity, solidarity and resistance. Now when I think about Detroit, I see it as a place of resistance, a place and people that despite every effort otherwise they refuse to be wiped out. And that is the story that I will take back with me to not only the rest of my time at Michigan but into my career aspirations as well.

I would like to thank my fellow DCBPR’s it has been a pleasure working, living and learning alongside of you all this summer. I have never been a part of a more diverse group of people. Every single one of us offers something unique to the group yet we were united through our same core values and being a part of that is something that I am truly going to miss after this program is over. Thank you for everything and I challenge us to not only focus on the ways that our resumes were boosted this summer, although those are important. But also, may we carry the lessons that we have learned this summer into our future studies and careers and allow them to be mold and shape us into the future social change agents that we aspire to be.



One thought on “Week 9 and What I am Thankful For….

  • August 2, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Kia, what a beautiful final reflection. It was powerful to read in the third person. Was this an actual letter you wrote to the DCBPR team? As a sociology major and MI native, it’s good to hear your more nuanced narrative of Detroit. All my friends from the city describe it as you do “buzzing life and energy that has always existed here.” I am both excited and worried about the development downtown – has any city ever done a good job redeveloping without gentrifying?

    Thank you again for the window into your summer, and for your thoughtful reflections. I hope we get to meet on campus sometime this year. Enjoy your time Up North!


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