Wow. Our trip to Detroit was surprising. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and what I subconsciously did wasn’t present. Looking back now I expected some resistance at Jalen Rose Academy, and awkwardness at Cass Community Center. I received none of that at either location. Instead, both were extremely welcoming, and open.
The highlight of the trip was Jalen Rose Academy, not only was is very eye opening, it was unique and fun. The students at Jalen Rose were extremely open when you asked them about themselves, and willing to do whatever the activity was. From ice breakers to making hospital goody bags, the students were engaged and open. In our debrief we expressed how we felt about the day and some serious questions. We decided overall we lack an appreciation for the privileges we have, and many of the stereotypes we expected consciously or unconsciously were absent.
On our second day we went to Cass Community Center. I was in the group selected to go to the paper shredding building. As we entered the building we walked under a sign that said Fighting Poverty. Creating Opportunity. That’s when I realized that a boring job of shredding paper to me meant income for someone else. Not only was it part of their life, I was being inconsiderate by undervaluing the task given to me. We lined up along both sides of a converter belt, with two people at the shredder and started. We were required to sort colors from whites, and remove anything else that was shiny or not paper. While sorting the first hour of so was mostly quiet, with some talking. It was also hectic figuring out the right speed, we looked like Drake and Josh in the sushi conveyer belt episode at first. After the first hour we began to sing songs from middle school or improvise and sing whatever we wanted without music. The last hour and a half of shredding paper made me realize how something so simple like singing can change your attitude for the rest of the project. I have many thanks for that sign and my cohort for making shredding paper a great experience.
The time we spend at both service locations allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t even notice until our debrief. One thing I will keep in mind is to let things, people, and activities keep surprising me.