LAS in the D was one of the most life changing experiences for me. On February 10th, 2017 my LAS cohort took a weekend trip down to Detroit. A few days before the trip left, our class met and we were told exactly what this trip has in store for us. We had a jam packed weekend ahead of us. We left Friday morning around 11 am, and our first stop was at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy just outside of Detroit. Our itinerary included going to Quicken Loans in downtown Detroit for dinner, stopping at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and ending our evening at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center to sleep. The next morning we woke up bright and early and went to Cass Community Social Services to do a little mission work.
At Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA) we split into groups and did some team-building exercises with the students. Our focus while working with these groups was to grow in our facilitation skills, and to help the students grow their confidence/ leadership skills.
We started off with some basic ice-breakers that most of us LAS students had done a dozen times before this. Even though I myself had done some of those activities, I had never looked at them from a facilitator standpoint before. It was very interesting looking at everything from a different perspective, and not being the focus of the activity. When facilitating, all of the focus should be on the participants. It is their time to shine. Even though I didn’t take any deep lessons away from the activities themselves, I discovered more about my leadership style while I was there. Taking turns facilitating really helped me see how I work as a leader, and how I work with others as a leader.
Our next stop was at Quicken Loans for dinner. I had no idea what Quicken Loans was, what it did, or that it was as big of a corporation as it is. It was very eye opening to hear about their mission as a company, and how they run everything. I got so much inspiration from hearing their employees talk to us with so much passion. I am planning on looking into their incredible internship program! Quicken Loans is making such a positive difference in Detroit, and it makes all of my dreams seem so achievable. The environment at Quicken Loans was breathtaking. They work in such a creative and relaxed atmosphere. I hope to find something like that when I figure out what I want to do and get a serious job like that someday.
I spent the time I had at the Detroit Institute of the Arts reflecting on everything I discovered that day. The artsy side of me was very excited to be there and see the wide variety of impressive art, and the scholar side of me was interested in learning about how the art was created. I wish we could have had more time at the DIA, because we were only given an hour. I loved the Detroit After Dark photography exhibit they had setup. They made even the darkest of pictures so beautiful. Some of the things that were in the pictures might have been thought of by some as ugly, but the photos viewed them in a different light.
We were fortunate enough to have been able to stay the night at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center. When we were here, we reflected on our day and did a little debriefing with our small groups. After all the deep conversations, we had a little midnight snack and had some free time. Bonding with everyone in LAS in such a relaxed atmosphere brought us all so much closer together.
The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, and hit the road to get to Cass Services. When we got there, our small groups were given different tasks to do to help out the community. My group went to help out the kitchen staff, who feeds and houses over 1,000 people each and every day. The head chef took us and showed us around the building, and gave us a little background on what CASS is all about. We were all given different tasks to help around the kitchen. I was paired up with one of the graduate students in the LI, Sarah, and our first task was to peel 75 pounds of onions. We were both in tears from the fumes shortly after we began, but we powered through. The list of things the kitchen staff needed help with seemed to be endless, but we helped them with a nice chunk of their to-do list. All of the homeless people all are assembled in a little dining area, where they spend most of their day waiting for their meals. One of the tasks Sarah and I were given was to go into that dining area and clean up the garbage and tables.
The time I got to spend interacting with the homeless people was the most impactful part of the whole trip for me. Being able to meet and talk to the people was such a culture shock for me. This was the point of the trip for me when I felt the most inspired to volunteer more. This was my “life-changing” moment. Back in my hometown, there is a lot of poverty, and I haven’t helped out to the best of my ability. There are so many opportunities to help out, and I have never been as compelled to take them as I feel after going on that trip.
Everything we did on this trip was a new experience for me. My expectations were heavily exceeded, and my drive to serve has never been as strong as it is now. I can’t wait to go back home and attempt to change and improve my community the way Detroit has been improved. In the next month, I am going to educate myself more on how Detroit is moving forward positively, and I am going to educate others too. Hopefully I will be able to have meaningful conversations with my family and friends about Detroit, and read some interesting articles about what Detroit is doing to move forward.