When I decided to do the Semester In Detroit program last spring, I was met with laughter by many of my family and friends. “Oh, so you’re going home for the summer” and “What do they have to teach you about Detroit?” were common responses. In reality, hailing from the city of Detroit didn’t disqualify me from gaining valuable experiences through SID. And similarly, never having been to Detroit doesn’t disqualify you. Neither does being afraid of Detroit. Or knowing a lot about Detroit. This program is a game-changer, an experience that can shape not only the rest of your academic career, but your life.
It was the internship that first caught my attention — a chance to gain valuable work experience from innovative and prestigious growing companies and non-profit organizations. SID’s reputation helped me get an internship at Pewabic Pottery, a non-profit ceramics organization, and gave my supervisor the confidence to give me a great amount of freedom and responsibility in my work. From hosting television crews to climbing in fish tanks at the Belle Isle Aquarium, the experience I gained from my internship was priceless and escorted me into a new way of engaging with my city through the professional world. For anyone, the SID internship is a snapshot into what working in Detroit, or any other similar environment, might be like.
Class, often the greatest burden in a student’s life, was the glue that brought all the richness of the SID experiences together. Instead of detracting from our engagement in the city, our classes were the place where we could process our experiences and learn about the city in a way that would deepen and shape our interactions going forward.
From the first night sleeping on the floor of a church during orientation, to the last night of the program laying on my apartment floor talking until sunrise, my SID crew was the absolute best part of the whole experience. Each person had a unique background, interests and relationship to the city and together we had a diversity that provided for the most interesting group experience I’ve been a part of. Despite our differences, the SID group had a commitment to supporting one another’s endeavors and learning about their passions. Not a personal success has gone by, even now, that hasn’t been celebrated by the group.
Wherever you’re at, SID has something for you. A place to learn. To network. To risk. To grow. If I could do it again, I would, but since I can’t, I’d love to see you go. Apply by Oct. 26 for the winter semester, and if you still need some convincing, there is an info session at 7 p.m. in Mason Hall G437 on Thursday, Oct. 18.
Alana Hoey is a senior in the School of Art & Design and Urban Studies.