Growing up in Shenzhen, China, I fully enjoyed the convenience and vibrancy that a young metropolis could offer. At the time, I did not have a rich understanding of the different regions in the United States. Even though I was able to gain insights into traits of various cities in the U.S. after I attended a boarding school here for four years, a significant amount of my knowledge was built upon others’ comments as well as the media’s portrayals. Before experiencing Detroit in person, I could not imagine how and why one would ever decide to settle down in this seemingly dreadful city. However, as soon as I set foot on Detroit, I was amazed.
My morning trip to Tim Hortons with Matt and Tonya on the first day was a perfect occasion to get a first taste of midtown Detroit. As I strolled down the street, the beautiful and uniquely designed architectures on both sides of the road quickly caught my attention. A sense of history and artistic value permeated through the buildings. Later in the day, the bus tour of the city and scavenger hunt in the downtown area gave me constant surprises. The tour guide’s enthusiastic description of restaurants, museums, public events, and many more aspects of the city showed his love for Detroit and vibrancy throughout the city. As we took on our adventure in downtown through the scavenger hunt, we mingled with the city dwellers and felt a strong sense of community, as well as their contagious passion for living here. We stopped by The Heidelberg Project and were impressed by the artist’s creativity and effort to inspire the community to strive for changes and improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. As we visited the Henry Ford Museum and the Rouge Factory, I felt astonished by the historical and industrial complexity and advancement of the city.
Although it has only been a little more than a week in Detroit, this place already feels homey to me. Through interning at ProsperUS, I have been learning about the strong entrepreneurial drive in the city and the powerful impact social enterprises have been making in this community. I have never seen a place with so many dreamers and entrepreneurial ideas that aim to benefit the people around in all kinds of ways: creating jobs, assisting with business planning, providing lower-cost food, increasing accessibility to child care, etc. I would love to work with ProsperUS to promote entrepreneurial approach and spirit to the community by conducting a series of interviews in a form similar to that of “Humans of New York”. I also plan to develop a business plan template for future entrepreneurs’ business implementation and growth. I believe that what we do every day is helping social entrepreneurs start and successfully manage their business, achieve their goals, and eventually make the city “rise from the ashes”. Blake and I will be visiting the Freedom House tomorrow to directly interact with our clients and/or potential clients, from whom I wish to learn about their personal story and their business mission and projection, and to help bring as many social entrepreneurial ideas to life as I could.