Growing up in a small Northern Michigan town, I knew little about that big city that everyone seemed to have mixed reviews on. Mostly what I knew about it was from varied headlines and history books, and all too often, it wasn’t great things. So, announcing that I had an internship in Detroit and would be traveling there three days a week honestly freaked out a lot of my fellow Northern Michiganders.
Then I spent month there and I am thrilled I did. Now, any of you skeptics out there probably just sighed and went, ‘I bet she just stayed in a nice downtown office and saw only the nice parts’. Well, yes, my office was near Campus and it was beautiful. I could walk past a fountain, a fake beach front restaurant, and occasionally live music on my way to grab coffee. And that was wonderful, it truly was. Downtown is a hopping place. It has great coffee shops, a fun atmosphere, tasty restaurants, and cool bars.
But, the great thing about my internship was that it wasn’t simply a desk job. I got to go out into the community. As a communications intern, I was writing stories about the residents of Detroit. That meant visiting locations and work sites and other various trips to the other side of Detroit. The sides that are still recovering, still working to come back from the hard hits this city has taken. But you know what I saw?
I saw people working hard. They would come into our centers just searching for help and ready to put in the effort. And yes, Detroit is not all glamour. There are the rundown parts, the hard to look at parts, the ones you keep in your prayers because you are unsure of how else to help.
Going into those parts wasn’t always easy, but it was always good. I saw real people, in real lives, working to regain their independence. Detroit isn’t always for tourists. But it is for the resilient, the dedicated, the kind. It isn’t the shiny side of downtown, nor is it the scary rundown you see in alarming headlines. No, Detroit is a city that’s alive and growing and moving and working towards a future.
I can’t call myself a Detroiter after one summer, but one summer sure has changed my opinion on this city. It’s beauty is in its people. And it is one beautiful place.