Community, Leadership Development

“…Exit a Leader”

LAS in the D was an experience that I wish everyone had the opportunity to do. LAS in the D is considered a service trip. We are supposed to go and do things that service those in Detroit. I really and truly did not feel like this was a service trip. I felt like Detroit was doing things for us. Detroit was changing me more than I was changing it.

img_1557In Detroit our first stop was at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. At Jalen Rose we were split into groups and asked to help facilitate ice breakers with the high school students. Ultimately I thought that this was going to be cheesy and awkward but it actually turned out to be some of our students’ favorite parts. We were able to learn more about the students and make connections before we even began doing any real activities. After we spent some time getting to know our students we helped facilitate and participate in some activities working on teamwork and communication. These activities were actually a challenge for me because I found myself over participating in some of the activities. I had to keep reminding myself to let the students have their turn to lead. We then did some debriefing and after just a short time with the students we said our goodbyes and hit the bus.

We then were headed off to Quicken Loans in Detroit. The difference between Jalen Rose and Quicken Loans was outrageous to me. Quicken Loans was a very big expensive building with high security and such nice facilities where just 10 minutes before at Jalen Rose there weren’t very many nice buildings and things. At Quicken Loans we had the opportunity to hear a presentation from the Vice President¬† of Quicken Loans. He told us of the history and what Quicken Loans stands for and all of the different things that Quicken Loans is doing for Detroit. This was an absolutely amazing and eye opening experience. For the rest of the night we had the opportunity to hangout at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and spend the night and learn about the history of the Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center.

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In the morning, we woke up and packed out bags for Cass. Cass is a community organization which helps the homeless get back on their feet. They have kitchens to feed the homeless; donation centers of food, clothes, and housing items, for the homeless; and have a shop where they make rugs out of tires that have been dumped on the street that they sell to make money for the organization. The really cool thing about Cass is that they hire mostly the homeless people that they serve. They give the homeless¬† that second chance because most other companies won’t. Cass also has apartments that they rent out to their employees once they get enough money from working. Ultimately Cass takes people from the lowest of lows and slowly helps them to rebuild their own lives. Nothing is just handed to them but they are given the chance to earn the job and earn the apartment. Cass has many employees that are able to build a resume from working at Cass to help them get out into the workforce and get better paying jobs. This really touched me because nobody ever talks about all of these organizations that are doing amazing things and doing so much to rebuild Detroit and help the people become functioning members of the community. Bringing light to these organizations is so important in making Detroit the city that it deserves to be. LAS volunteered at Cass with these workers who were able to tell us their own stories of what Cass has done for them and I think that if everyone had that opportunity, Detroit would be so different in the eyes of those who have no idea what it really is.

In Detroit we had the opportunity to facilitate leadership activities at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, tour and learn about Quicken Loans, roam through the Detroit Institute of the Arts, stay at the Detroit Outdoor Adventure Center, and then spend our morning volunteering for Cass. With so many different opportunities to learn and grow, I find myself stuck on one moment of our trip.

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Ya know those moments in chick-flicks where the girl has the realization that she loves the boy and the world starts spinning and music starts playing? Yeah I had one of those moments except mine was while I was sitting on a dusty Detroit high school classroom floor and I just realized what I had known all along. In class the week before our trip we had to discuss why we did what we did. What we were passionate about. Ultimately what gets us out of bed in the morning. We then turned this into a why statement. Everyone had a different why statement because they were personal to your passions. My why statement is “Inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them the happiest”. The moment that I had my ‘moment’ was when I realized that I was living and preaching this all along and didn’t even realize it.

img_1598While debriefing about the activities that we had done at Jalen Rose with the students we all got to put in our advice and thoughts. I raised my hand and pointed out the fact that the thing that continuously kept the group going was their positivity. I told them that they just kept trying and having fun with it instead of getting frustrated and angry. I reminded that them we could relate this back to situations in real life and try to find the good in bad situations and have fun with the things that could frustrate us. After I was finished talking I had my moment. I realized that I was teaching students about the things that are most important to me. As someone who is so passionate about education and learning and wants to be a teacher to realize that I am sitting there teaching students about being positive and happy and all of the other things that I’m passionate about and that are important to me was so crazy. I realized that in that exact moment I was doing the things that are the most important to me.

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After the fact I realized that maybe I’d been actually instilling these thoughts and ideas in the people around me all along and didn’t even realize it. Maybe I had been living my passions this whole time before I really knew that those were the things that wake me up in the morning. Being in Detroit gave us so many opportunities to give, and while I think that I did do my part in giving back to Detroit, I think that I took so much more.

I hope to now be more aware of leaving my mark and the things that are important to me anywhere I go. Leaving a lasting mark and impact with the things that matter the most to me on the things that matter most to me was such an inspiring act and I hope to continue doing this from now on wherever I go.

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Leadership Education

“Enter a Learner…”

Tomorrow LAS class of 2020 will hit the buses to head to Detroit for a service learning trip. We will have the opportunity to facilitate activities for younger leaders, volunteer for different businesses in the Detroit area, and get to explore the city of Detroit.

Compared to my classmates I truly feel like I do not know much about Detroit at all. I have been downtown for a Tigers game and maybe a few concerts here and there but other than that I’ve never seen much and do not know a lot about the city. From what I’ve heard stereo-typically, Detroit is scary and dangerous. Whenever I’ve gone to Detroit my friends and family have always said “we don’t want to get lost in Detroit” in a bad manner as if that would be dangerous. From what I’ve learned in the past few days just from hearing about the things that have been discussed in our Leadership class and within my cohort, people love Detroit. There are so many amazing and beautiful places to visit and honestly I’m so conflicted. How could we go somewhere where people are so scared yet also so amazed by its beauty? I have heard about the social issues of poverty, violence, and racism in Detroit being at all time highs and to be blatantly honest I’m so curious to see what this is all about. I don’t know much about these issues in Detroit specifically but from all of the buzz I can only imagine that it has to be more extreme than what I’ve personally seen before.

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Within the Leadership Institute here at CMU, there is one main purpose and vision for the students, staff, and community that is affected by us:

“PURPOSE: Central Michigan University is committed to preparing Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society.”

“VISION: The Leadership Institute prepares the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work.”

Our trip to Detroit is a great example of how the Leadership Institute includes the purpose and vision of the LI in the daily lives of its students. Going to Detroit and experiencing all of these new businesses and communities that many have us did not really know existed will open our eyes and prepare us for the real world. Already I am realizing that things aren’t the same everywhere; in fact they are very different. I personally have never experienced or seen a prime example of racism or poverty and I am hoping this service trip will open my eyes too all of the things that this complex and challenging society that we live in has to offer to emerging leaders like my classmates and myself. Being in Detroit will also allow us to leave our own personal impact on Detroit. We will not be able to save Detroit in 30 hours; this we are aware, but being able to go and leave a mark and realize that even though we aren’t changing the world we are making a difference which is just as important is a very important thing for us to see and learn. Realizing that if we all work to make the small changes in our own community and lives around us, big things happen. I think that this trip works to make an impact on our lives as leaders just as much as the lives that we are impacting while on this trip.

Overall I think that this trip is going to be one of the most impactful things on myself that I have ever done. I think that going to Detroit will open my eyes to so many things in our world that I didn’t realize truly existed in the daily lives of Americans. I think that this trip will help me realize how much still needs to be done in this world and in our own communities in general. I think that this trip will make me realize that each of our small contributions truly make a difference. The motivation that I get from this trip will be outstanding. I think that the skills and knowledge that I gain from this trip will be one of a kind and something that I will use for the rest of my life.

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