Over the course of two days during the second semester of the year, our Leaders Advancement Scholar cohort traveled to Detroit for a service trip. These two days were fully packed with many great opportunities. The first day we were there we facilitated leadership workshops at a local high school, visited a successful corporate business located in the heart of Detroit, toured Ford Field and explored the DIA. These experiences showed us all aspects of Detroit. We saw the educational side of Detroit, the corporate side of Detroit to the tourism side of Detroit. The second day we volunteered with a local company called Blight Busters.
The high school we facilitated at was Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. We worked with students who were both involved in leadership as well as with students who had never partaken in a leadership activity before. The students participated very well and were very appreciative that we took time our of our day to come to their school to teach them about leadership. Activities we had the students do included gutter ball. This activity helps students develop communication and team work skills. Two skills that are very important for a leader to possess.
Following the leadership workshops at JRLA, we went to Lowe Campbell Ewald. Here, we got to see the corporate side of Detroit. It showed us that industry in Detroit is not dead like many think. Lowe Campbell is an advertising company. A very cool thing about their business is that they had left Detroit and came back. When coming back into Detroit they furnished their facilities with all Michigan made furniture to help further support Michigan industry.
After our visit at Lowe Campbell Ewald, we visit the Detroit Institute of the Arts. I loved the DIA. There were many very interesting pieces in the DIA. My favorite exhibit was of the people of Detroit. A series of pictures that told the story of the different types of lives people in Detroit live.
The next day we volunteered with a company called Blight Busters. This company travels around Detroit and cleans up the yard of bankrupt houses in Detroit. In addition they tear down houses that are left empty to make space for urban farming. On Saturday we spread mulch on a field where Blight Busters had previous torn down 3 crack houses.
What was the most eye opening part of the trip for you?
“The street lights are coming back on.”
To many this quotes doesn’t mean anything. However, this quote gives me chills. When at the DIA, there was an exhibit of the peoope of Detroit. In the center off the room ws a scrap book full of note cards with saying about Detroit. On one of the cards written in a child’s hand writing was the quote above. This was very eye opening to me because it shows that even children know that their is still hope in Detroit. Detroit is nearing it’s end of time in the dark. The lights are coming back on. Industry is moving back to Detroit. People are stepping up and doing what they can to help Detroit become what it use to.
What was also very eye opening to me is the determination of the students are JRLA. When talking to one of the students they mentioned how appreciative that we came to their school because they rarely ever get visitors because they know that people have given up on the children of Detroit. This shocked me. From my perspective, the students that I talked to that day were some of the most motivated and determined students that I had the pleasure of meeting. As Freshman and Sophomores, they already had goals of where they wanted to go to college, what they were going to do when they were older and most important they knew that it was going to take hard work and that they had to keep fighting to negative stereotypes that people have of the children of Detroit.
What is an example of Leadership you saw during the trip and what theory can you connect to the example?
An example of leadership during the service trip was from a little girl approximately 8 years old. This little girl comes to volunteer with the Blight Busters every Saturday. The employees of Bight Busters do not know where she lives or who her parents are. However, they do know that they can count on seeing this little girl every Saturday morning. when she shows up to volunteer. This is great example of Servant Leadership. This little girl was not volunteering for herself, she was doing it because she said she thought it was fun. She said that she liked making a difference in her community. This is an example of Servant Leadership because this little girl was putting the well being of the people she was serving ahead of her own.
Has your opinion about the city of Detroit changed? Why or why not?
This trip did help to change my opinion of Detroit. I am from the west side of Michigan and prior to going on this service trip I only had to word of others to base my opinion of Detroit of off. My opinion of Detroit was that it was going to be gross, scary, dangerous and lacked a sense of energy. However, this was no at all true. The people of Detroit are caring, motivated people. They are constantly fighting to restore their city. They are not serotype that many people place on them. Detroit is a place full of life. Not a dying city with no hope like many people think.
What will you do as a result of this experience?
After this trip I am determined to do what I can to end the negative stereotype that people place on Detroit. Detroit is a city full of potential. It just dedicated, caring people to help it get there. When I hear people negative talk about Detroit I will be sure to say something. I will tell them about the amazing experiences I had with the people of Detroit. The Detroit Service trip was a trip that impacted me immensely. It taught me first hand that stereotypes are incorrect. Everyone deserves a chance no matter what they reputation is. Detroit has the potential to grow. However, he negative stereotypes of Detroit must end first. This can only happened if people like my fellow LASers and I speak up and defend the motor city.