I honestly cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. I have spent three months in Detroit working at Alternatives for Girls, learning about the environment and city around me, and exploring the relationships with students in my cohort. I have learned a lot over the past few months, but I am most thankful for the time that I got to spend at AFG. It offered me a brief glimpse into the non-profit world. After my time here, I am ever more sure about my future career goals and paths.
By interning in the Prevention Department, I was able to assist the Rise N’ Shine summer camp for latter half of my time at AFG. On my first day of camp, I was thrown directly into the action. I had to balance administering reading tests, preparing meals, and keeping the participants entertained. After that first day, I truly began to see how much really goes into the day-to-day operations of programming that centers around youth. One of the most impactful experiences that I had at AFG was the opportunity to be placed with the blue group: girls aged twelve to fourteen. I grew very close to my group of eighteen girls. Through learning about their passions and interests, seeing the struggles they were going through at home, and working closely with them in workshops, I was able to connect with each of them on a deeper level.
Since I was working with the oldest group in the program, I also got to see how important an organization like AFG is. I have also believed that consistency is one of the most important things when doing prevention work, especially with children. All of the girls in my group had attended programming at the agency in some form since they were young. Most had wonderful stories of how much fun they had throughout the years coming to After-School Programming and camp. My favorite thing about the dynamic at AFG was this notion. Since so many girls had been there since they were young, most now have younger sisters in the program or other family members. It was always exciting meeting the girls parents during sign-out and hearing them talk about their experience with the agency as well. I always got a deep sense of community and longevity due to this model that AFG has worked very hard to maintain and develop.
By working with the older girls, I was also given the opportunity to develop my own workshops. It began as a very spur of the moment thing. The girls have a set schedule for the week: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are filled with pre-planned workshops and Thursdays are off-campus field trips. On Wednesdays, the girls were supposed to have a STEAM workshop for three hours; however, the instructor simply took half of the group for each hour and thirty minute section. The first Wednesday this happened I had to come up with a workshop very fast. I’ve always loved poetry so we did a Found Poem workshop and the girls really enjoyed it. The following weeks, I prepared other activities ranging from drawing competitions, health games, and career development.
I am beyond grateful for the three months I was able to spend in Detroit through of Semester in Detroit program. I was able to see, feel, and experience so many new and exciting things. This will most definitely be a summer I will look back on fondly and with deep appreciation for the rest of my life.