This past Friday and Saturday (April 1st and 2nd) I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Detroit, Michigan with 47 of my closest LAS friends to learn more about the city and give back to people in need. Little did I know these two days of service, adventures, and learning would open my eyes to a new sense of appreciation for this city.
Bright and early at 9 am on Friday Morning, we packed our bags and boarded the bus to Detroit. With a 3-hour bus ride ahead of us, I was tired and excited; I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for the weekend.
Our first stop on our service trip was the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter high
school located in Detroit. As a future high school teacher, I was really excited for the opportunity to facilitate service projects with high school students. During our time at JRLA, we were split up into small groups consisting of 4-5 LAS students and 4-5 Jalen Rose students. Throughout the day, we did different service projects with these students; we made signs for Special Olympics Athletes, wrote cards to veterans, and so much more. Interacting with Jalen Rose students one-on-one and learning more about them and their various backgrounds throughout the day was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.
After facilitating at Jalen Rose, we headed to Pizza Papalis, an authentic pizza restaurant located in the heart of Greektown, for some dinner. During our time at Pizza Papalis we had the opportunity to connect with LAS alumni over pizza. It was really neat to talk to LAS alumni about both their experiences at CMU and how LAS propelled them to do great things in their future endeavors.
Our next stop on the trip was the Detroit Institute of Arts. Although I have been to the DIA several times before, I was really excited to walk around and explore the exhibits again. The last time I visited the DIA I was in 7th grade and I feel that visiting again as a college student has given me a new appreciation for the art there. Instead of rushing through all the exhibits, I found myself looking through each exhibit to gain an understanding of what was going on in that specific area at a particular time. Visiting the DIA helped me gain a new sense of appreciation for art.
A few hours later, we were back on the bus on our way to the Outdoor Adventure Center where we would be spending the rest of our night. Before this trip, I hadn’t heard of the Outdoor Adventure Center, but it is such a cool place. It was basically a hands-on museum about the Outdoors and the environment. Staying the night at this place made me feel like I was experiencing night at the museum. There was even time set aside to explore the place as we wished, which was awesome.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, we headed off to CASS Community Social Services to spend the last few hours of our trip volunteering. CASS is an incredible organization that provides food, health care, housing, and job opportunities to the people of Detroit. For our two hours of service at CASS, we were split up into three groups which each had their own specific task to accomplish. One of the job opportunities CASS offers people of Detroit is to shred papers. Many businesses, churches, and other organizations send their confidential papers to CASS to be shredded. Once these papers arrive, CASS is able to hire people to help sort the papers and shred them. For our two hours of service, my group was selected to aid in the process of shredding papers. While at first I was like “How hard can shredding papers be?”, it was actually quite a bit of work. Someone would be in charge of putting the papers on the conveyer belt and then the rest of us had the task of seperating colored papers from white papers; if it was white it stayed on the belt, but if it was colored, it had to be removed and placed in a separate crate. While this seems relatively simple, it got progressively harder when hundreds of papers were on the belt at once and the conveyor belt was moving extremely fast. Overall, I enjoyed my experience volunteering at CASS and I’m grateful that through our few hours of service, we were able to help an organization that does so much for the people of Detroit.
LAS in the D was by far one of my favorite weekends of my freshman year. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to give back to the city of Detroit and immerse myself in the culture. Detroit is so much more than the stereotypes it has been given and I hope that I can continue to learn more about the city.