This Friday, February 10th, 2017 I will be going on a service trip to Detroit, MI with my LAS cohort. I’ve heard great things about the LAS in the D trip and how it is one of the Leadership Institute’s favorite tradition. I have been anticipating this trip all year long but I wasn’t aware of its purpose or the reason why CMU’s LI began this tradition until just last week.
Detroit has a long history of social issues and struggles within its community. Growing up in Michigan I was somewhat aware of these issues but most of what I heard was from the media, music, my friends, and my parents. I heard things like “Detroit is unsafe,” and “Detroit is complete mess.” I understood that Detroit was hurting but the question that always stuck in my mind was why is it this way and what can be done to help the city? Issues like poverty, crime, violence, and discrimination have been present within Detroit for a long time. Last week, a professor from CMU’s Political Science & Public Administration department, Dr. Joyce Baugh came and spoke to my cohort about the history of Detroit and how it came to possess these negative views. Dr. Baugh explained that Detroit’s resources have been segregated since the early 1940’s leaving the black community competing for housing, transportation, and education. Not only was Detroit divided by means of race, it was divided literally by what is known today as 8 Mile Rd.
Although there have been efforts made to end the division that corrupted Detroit, the same issues are still present today.
One of those issues is that Detroit public schools are not receiving substantial funding in order to provide their students with the essential resources for them to learn, develop, and grow. This year, LAS is partnering again with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy located in northwest Detroit with the objective that we may learn how to adapt our leadership role to better serve a challenging community in order to improve the quality of life and state of the economy. Leadership can be demonstrated in successful, prosperous societies, but sometimes leadership is needed most in hurting and struggling communities. It is a leader’s responsibility to actively work towards a better society.
I believe that immersing myself in the current state of Detroit will help me gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding Detroit and how I can use my leadership skills to improve someone else’s life. I am looking forward to connecting with new people, learning more about what Detroit has to offer and its history, and contributing to a brighter future for Detroit.