Community, Leadership Development, Service

LAS in the D: My Experience

Going into this trip, I was excited. I knew it would be an awesome weekend, and I knew I would gain so much from it. Little did I know I would be experiencing one of the coolest, most influential trips I have ever been on.

Visiting Jalen Rose Leadership Academy was the first stop on the trip. We arrived at the school and got separated into groups with the leadership students. We played a few icebreakers with our new friends, and we wrote down things that we wanted to accomplish while we were there for the day. Some of the things we put on our list included using teamwork, being respectful, and communicating with one another. The students opened up really quickly, and I was super excited to continue on with our day.

After splitting up into separate classrooms with our groups, we did an activity that required us to figure out a pre-made pattern to get across the “lava” to the other side of the volcano (the other side of the room). Every time someone made a wrong step, we had to restart and go back to the starting line. It was really awesome to see the students take charge and try to figure out the pattern, and we worked together to discover the correct sequence to get across.

Next, we moved into a different room to take on another activity. This activity involved a ball on a circle of plastic with many strings tied around the plastic. To complete this activity, we had to pick up the ball by using the strings and carry it to the other side of room to place it on top of a pole. If we dropped the ball, we had to go back to the starting line to try again. This activity was very trial-and-error oriented, and we tested many different strategies before completing it. Our winning tactic was to slide the ball over to the pole and then get as close as we could to the center, while still holding the strings. We pulled the ball up and got it on top of the pole, and everyone was super excited that we were able to complete the challenge. After the activities were over, we debriefed for a little bit. We talked about what strategies worked and which ones didn’t work, how we used communication and teamwork, and how we stepped outside of our comfort zones to take on something. One of the students asked us when we were coming back, and when we told him we’d be back in a year, he said to “please hurry.” It was so inspiring to see how much the students at Jalen Rose loved the activities, and it made me really think about the impact you can make on someone without even knowing.

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After leaving Jalen Rose, we headed over to Quicken Loans to go on a tour of the building and to eat dinner. We all sat down and ate, and we were later shown a presentation about Quicken Loans and all of the opportunities and internships the company offers. John Fikany spoke to us for a while, and seeing his passion towards the company really made me think about applying for a summer internship. We then were split into groups and were shown around the building. The Quicken Loans building was amazing- it was so colorful and all of the workers were super friendly. I loved exploring around the company and seeing all of the different branches in the building.

The Quicken Loans tour soon ended, and we headed over to the Detroit Institute of Arts. I was super excited for this part, because the DIA is one of my favorite places. There’s just something about going to an art museum and exploring around and admiring the art that makes me so happy. I got to walk around the museum with my roommates, and we were able to check out all of the different pieces and rooms before going to the little cafe inside.

At around 9:00 P.M., we all went to the Outdoor Adventure Center to debrief the day and get some rest. After exploring the waterfall and nature inside the building, we met with our groups and talked about everything we did on the trip thus far. It was awesome to reflect back on the day and talk about how inspired and excited we were about the activities and workshops. The discussion ended at around 10:30 P.M., and we all went to get ready for bed. Instead of going to sleep, we decided to circle up and share our passions and talk about our lives. It was really cool learning about everyone, and (in my opinion), I think it brought us even closer than we already were. When it got pretty late, I curled up in my sleeping bag next to my roommates and went to sleep.

We started the next day off bright and early. After eating breakfast, we got on the bus and traveled to Cass Community Social Services. Cass is an agency in Detroit that provides food, shelter, and jobs to members of the community. We were split up into groups when we arrived, and each group had the opportunity to do something different. My group walked over to the green warehouse, and we took on the job of breaking down tons of cardboard boxes and shredding papers to get the warehouse cleaned up for spring. This building was awesome because it was powered by spinning bikes. Whenever we wanted to take a break from shredding, we would ride the spinning bikes to give the warehouse energy. Our group leader, Mark, was super outgoing and played awesome music while we broke down the boxes. I loved this part of the trip because I got to work with my cohort and gain new experiences while helping out the community.

We got on the bus to head to Great Lakes Crossing for lunch at around 11:00 A.M. This was the last part of the trip, and we all settled on the bus to head back to CMU in the afternoon. Most of us fell asleep immediately after sitting down, but some us jammed out to old songs and sang for a little bit.

Now What? This trip was one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve been able to be a part of. It’s crazy how much of an impact you can make on someone/something, and going on this trip opened my eyes to the issues around me and inspired me to want to get out there and do something to help my community. Detroit is an amazing city, and it doesn’t deserve the reputation and stereotypes it receives. This trip gave me the initiative to want to reach out and help the wonderful city. I absolutely loved volunteering at Cass Community Social Services because I was able to work with others and clean up the warehouse for the upcoming spring and summer and create energy by riding the spinning bikes. The Quicken Loans tour gave me inspiration to go out and do whatever I wanted to do because I am a leader and I am capable of achieving wonderful things. This trip  was so inspiring and was one of my favorite activities of the entire year. I am so grateful to be a part of LAS and I will never forget the amazing experiences, memories, and opportunities I’ve gained from this trip.

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