The last week we have had the pleasure of visiting the cities of Detroit and Flint on our Catalyst alternative spring break trip. While we wait to get on our flight back to the Twin Cities we thought that some of us would say a couple things about what we would remember about this experience.
I will remember the stories that I was blessed to hear from numerous residents from both Detroit and Flint. Three months from now I hope that I am still sharing what I learned from all the people that we met that were so warm and welcoming to their city. I will remember that Detroit is a community that is vastly misconstrued and stigmatized, but if you talk to people in the community, you would feel like your in a different place, than the one that is being talked about and stigmatized in the media. I will remember how our Community Development grew into a community of its own.
First and forefmost, I am going to remember all of the people I have met and grown closer to on this trip. There are some amazing people in the city of Detroit who we had the opportunity to work with on this trip. The one similarity they all share is their passion: they have passion for the city and a deep passion for people in general. We as a group have grown very close, so everybody involved will hold a certain place in my heart. This trip has instilled a sense of curiousity in me. I want to know what I can do to make a difference in the communities I am a part of. I've realized the importance of self-education and how necessary doing research is when working toward a cause. Making a difference might not be easy; it may be uncomfortable, but it is always possible.
I will remember the laughs, smiles, connections with passionate and innovative community members, moments of truth and sparks of curiosity. I will also remember how the stereotypes of Detroit were squashed within 24 hours of arrival; the media has this city all wrong. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a week building community with such an inspiring and inquisitive group of students. In many ways my view of the world is not as rosy at 31-years-old, but students never fail to remind me that I have the ability to take create change....to start somewhere...to do something.
I will remember the eye-opening insights I have learned from my team members, community leaders, and people of Detroit and Flint. When I look back at the Catalyst experience, I think I will reflect on this as a time of self-exploration and self-education in relation to social justice issues. Hamline Catalyst is exactly that, a catalyst for change. Therefore I value the six month experience as a turning point in my life, to bring the knowledge and passion I learned from Detroit and bring it back to the Twin Cities to inspire change - in thought and action. I also will remember that the people carry the burden of the systemic flaws and faiures of public officials. However, the people of Detroit and Flint are resilient and are willing to repair the damage done by others.
I won't forget our amazing house, and how smoothly the shared chores went. Further, everyone on the trip was so welcoming, empathetic, and selflessly vulnerable. There was a safe space to share, or not to share. Outside of the group, I will remember the supervisors that (overall) treated us with kindness and respect, and the community members that shared their stories with us. It is important that we bring these experiences back to Saint Paul and beyond, to continue this work in a meaningful way.
Although it may seem like a small thing, I will not forget that people spoke to you when passing on the street. I appreciated the how are yous and good mornings that I received when simply passing someone in the neighborhood. It is something that I only feel in small pockets of Minnesota. I felt the sense of community in Detriot and will miss it when back in Minnesota. I will remember the strength and fight of the communities in Flint and Detroit. This trip has allowed me to briefly feel a sense of community, in a city that is not my own. I hope to bring the lessons of community building back to the Twin Cities. I look forward to coming back to Detriot soon.
And this blog concludes our trip, but does not conclude our stories and experience. We hope that we get the opportunity to share some of our experiences with those close to us whether they are family or friends, in addition to anyone else where our catalyst trip comes up in discussion. We want to thank you so much for reading our blogs and keeping up with our experience, this is the 2016 Community Development in Detroit Catalyst group signing off...
Site Leaders: Alex & Austin (also known as A&A)
Staff Member: Allie
Trip Participants: Tiara, Abby, Tonya, Kalli, David, Megan, Amin and Joe