Each week, the Social Club holds an open discussion on entrepreneurial, social, or political issues. Last night’s talk emphasized the need for breaking down cross-cultural barriers in Detroit, the second-most racially segregated city in the U.S. (Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-segregated-cities-in-america-2013-11). The dialogue had the power to both dishearten and invigorate me. While the discussion alluded to Detroit’s outrageous wealth disparity (aka the “Two Detroits”), the discussion helped me recognize how many Detroiters have committed themselves to combatting this issue. Whether its bringing coworkers to an area of town they don’t usually venture or simply greeting those that walk past, many Detroiters have a vivacity to do more than just go through the motions everyday, and speaking from experience, it’s contagious. I have learned from people of all backgrounds, from coworkers to random pedestrians, and they each have a unique enthusiasm for living with a purpose. Emulating this enthusiasm has not only been fulfilling, but it’s also inspired me to bring such energy wherever I go.
This summer, it’s been the little moments that have impacted me most…learning about technologies at NextEnergy that I didn’t realize were possible. Biking to Belle Isle and absorbing Detroit’s beauty from across the river. Dining with Felicity, an aspiring U.S. diplomat and well-versed historian. Seeing the nicest and poorest areas of Detroit in the same day. Discovering just how similar we all are despite stereotypes and societal norms. Playing Settlers of Catan past midnight every evening in our apartment. Closing my eyes before bed, grappling with the idea that I’m contributing to something beyond myself while conceding that I can do so much more. Calling Detroit my home.
These are just glimpses into my seven weeks here, but these short-lived moments will have lasting impacts on the person I’m becoming, and more importantly, on the people I’ll meet along the way.