Growing up in mid-Michigan, the people in my predominantly-rural hometown always had a negative view of Detroit. I’m not sure if it was our close proximity to Flint and the constant slew of negativity associated with the city on the news, or the variety of prejudices that our community was rooted in, but even though it was only a couple of hours’ drive to explore Detroit, I’d never made the drive prior to starting the internship. I’ve seen so much of my home state; from the southwest corner and St. Joesph’s peaceful beaches, to the Cheeseburger Festival in Caseville at the top of the thumb, to the Upper Peninsula’s thunderous Tahquamenon Falls, I’ve discovered so much of what makes Michigan beautiful. But, I’d never been to the city that started it all.
I’ve met so many people from all across this great state, but I can proudly say I’ve never been anywhere, or met anyone, with the same inherent pride and resilience as I’ve discovered in Detroit.
From the first moment I arrived in the City, for intern orientation, and the other interns, Kuhu, Rachel, and I stepped into Campus Martius, I was in some semblance of shock. Ann Arbor is the biggest city I’d ever known, second to Flint, and Detroit’s downtown turns that up to ten. This might sound silly, but it was almost dizzying - the height of the buildings, the steady swirl of people, the Q-Line making its way around the manufactured beach - Downtown is home to a bustle that I’d never experienced before.
Later that day, the other interns and I attended a workshop with the 9th Grade cohort. When asking the students about themselves, I was introduced to a boy who always gave his last dollar to help his friends eat lunch, a girl who wanted to be an engineer and had a ‘true love in math,’ and many other students who took my breath away. The students had such indescribable energy and were filled with dreams, drive, and a love for their friends and their community, unlike anything that I expected - and they were ninth graders. Their hearts and souls were wise and strengthened far beyond their years.
I haven’t been in Detroit long, but every day that I am here, I am blown away and find myself asking: how is it possible to be inspired by an entire city?
- Cheyanne Killin, Summer 2019 Give Merit Intern