Who knew that you could experience so much in only two short days. The amount of inspiring, eye-opening, and learning experiences that I had on this trip was something that in some parts can’t describe in words. This was one of those times that you could only learn through experience and living through it to understand the importance of it. My time in Detroit was one that I can only hope everyone gets to experience in their lifetime. I was able to connect with other student leaders, be opened to some real life jobs that people have and see their passion for them, and help out the community while bonding with my fellow LAS cohort members.
Along with the LEAD team who planned this wonderful trip, my cohort (+ Kaden) and I packed our bags and took a bus from Mount Pleasant to the city of Detroit. We all didn’t know what to expect, but we were very anxious to be there. As we first arrived at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy High School, we were all so excited to jump right in and see the students there. When we first got there, we were directed into what was their gymnasium and we broke off into our groups that we were assigned to. We talked about the different activities that we were going to do with the students once they came in as well as just getting prepared for what we were to expect.
Once they all started piling into the gym, we instantly met the ones that were assigned into my group and little did we know, two of the kids that we had in our group (Tion and Engram) were the two who had been accepted as Leader Advancement Scholars for next year! This excited me so much knowing that we were able to meet them and interact with a couple of the future mentees! Once we got into our groups, we did a couple activities to get to know each other’s names and a little about ourselves as well as set our community standards. For those who don’t know what community standards are, they are basically things that we are going to strive to achieve within the group and things that we will, as a group, hold each other accountable for. Something that instantly grabbed my attention was how quickly each of them were to raise their hands to put down a community standard and even more impressive was the quality of their responses. You could really tell that they wanted to be there and that they have background knowledge of leadership and that was just so cool to see.
After we all got to know one another in the gym, we were to break off into different room within the school and do team building/leadership activities. Now, coming into doing these activities, I had already done both of them beforehand, but that didn’t stop me from being a part of helping out and I feel like I benefited even more from them because they all approached each activity in a different way and from a different perspective in which I had never thought of before.
I was very inspired by each and every one of them because of the way that they were excited to do each activity and how they really wanted to succeed, not only with the tasks that were put in front of them, but in life in general, you could see the determination in their eyes and they knew that if they put in hard work, that they would succeed in anything they out their minds to. Something that really made me inspired was how one girl in my group named Jarnae, spoke up in front of the group and openly said that she is a quiet and shy person and usually would be nervous in front of a group of kids like this, but she said that she was completely comfortable and we made her feel like her voice was heard.This really made me feel warm inside because just the fact that she said that she is a shy person, yet I couldn’t tell at all if she didn’t tell us, and that she was able to speak up in front of us, that was just a great thing to see that we could help her and make a difference.
As we made our departure from Jalen Rose, we said our goodbyes in hope that we could sometime meet again. We then headed to the building in which Quicken Loans was built upon. We were able to have some dinner as well as listen to a presentation on what Quicken Loans was and how you can get involved with an internship if you wanted to work for them over the summer. At first, I didn’t really know how I would implement my interests and major into working there, but we were able to go on a tour and they told us that whatever you are interested in, they will find a place for you. Going through the tour was so eye-opening to all the different opportunities at Quicken Loans that I was never aware of.
Once we had finished our exploration at Quicken Loans, we were directed to the building in which we were going to stay the night at, the Outdoor Adventure Center. As we walked into the building, it reminded me of a nature center that I have been to before. It was an educational nature center in which it had several different areas where you could learn about nature and the outdoors. It was very interactive and it was fun way to unwind for the day. We were able to talk to someone who worked their and she was able to explain and express to us the history of the Outdoor Center and how it came to be and the purpose behind the building of the building. Waking up the next day, tired and still exhausted from the day before, we were off to the Cass Community Social Services for our service project.
I knew that we were going somewhere for our service project and I had a general idea of what we were doing, but I had no vision of what exactly what the service project was or the purpose of it all until we arrived. Once we got there, it was very eye-opening because we had just come from a very modern building of Quicken Loans into an urban building that didn’t look like a lot of business was coming through. At the Cass Community Social Services building, we were able to talk with one of the people who kinda ran the business and she got to tell us all the history of how they came to be and what they do to help other people in the city. We split into different groups in to which we would carry out different tasks like working in the kitchen or sorting boxes. My group got the opportunity to work with a couple of the men there with making mats out of old tires. It was really cool to see how to make one as well as see what these people do on a daily basis. Something that was so humbling was the fact that they were doing this out of their own time. They are helping others not only by feeding them and taking care of them, but they provide services out of the kindness of their heart. This experience was definitely an eye-opening one because it allowed us to see what others did for a living and your job doesn’t always have to be for the money, but for helping others.
After have been on this trip to Detroit, I have such a better understanding of the different aspects of Detroit and how many ways there are to be part of the building of one of the best cities in the country. From going to Jalen Rose, I gained such a humbling experience from being surrounded by all of the students there and knowing that some of them will be emerging leaders of CMU’s campus next year makes me so excited to see them grow as leaders. It allowed me to realize that you don’t have to have the highest quality environment, but having the highest quality of learning makes an even more impact on the students. Being able to also experience Quicken Loans, The outdoor Adventure Center, and The Cass, it really opened my eyes to all the opportunities that are out there for careers. Being in the city also has showed me that there are so many different ways to be a part of a bigger picture in Detroit. There was a difference in work environments, but they all had the same determination and they each had their own purpose of why they started and why they strive to continue being the best that they can be in their career. Coming away from this experience, I’ve gained such a better understanding of the amount of heart there is in Detroit and it also got me thinking of how I can apply my interests and hobbies into making a career out of them. I think that you should do something that you’re passionate about and once you find your passion, then you can just run with that and create something great out of it.