I spent this summer interning in Detroit but it was more than just an internship due to my participation in the Semester in Detroit program. This uniquely shaped my summer experience even though I am continuing my internship through the fall semester. Semester in Detroit has helped me to see all aspects of the city, not just the parts for college interns or young professionals. I’ve gone to sporting events and concerts, but also witnessed a communities (comprised primarily of people of color) being poisoned and learned about how tax foreclosure and water shutoffs have negatively affected Detroiters.
I’ve learned so much, but I want to focus the importance of community. Taking part in a program based in community learning has made me realize its importance. When doing volunteer work or following your passion, it is easy to forget who you are doing the work for. It is easy to forget about the space that you are working in and how you interact with the space. Entering an area and starting to do work without consulting those who live, work, play, and spend their time there is a mistake. The community that you are interacting with, talking to, and (hopefully) acting as an ally to is important. As someone who as the privilege to take time to volunteer and work with a community; it is essential to talk to them, understand the issues, and focus on working hand in hand with them. It is vital to understand the impact that community can have on you as a person and how you interact with other communities in the future.