Dear Newly Admitted RC Students,
Congratulations and welcome to the Residential College! As you’ve probably heard many times now, the RC is a special place. You’ll build close relationships with your fellow students and faculty members, get exposed to new ideas and opportunities, and become a valued member of the RC community in Ann Arbor and around the world.
In addition to all that, the RC is home to several community engagement programs—curricular and volunteer programs that bring you into collaboration with Michigan communities. Community engagement programs support your learning and development while also serving the needs of your partner community. Participating in a community engagement program will help you learn to engage with diverse communities, navigate issues of inequality and injustice, and better understand your own position in the communities you are a part of.
In the RC, there are community engagement programs to fit almost every interest! I am the Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), which provides creative arts programming inside Michigan prisons. Students can enroll in PCAP courses, facilitate creative arts workshops inside prison, and volunteer for the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners. PCAP is the longest continually running prison arts program in the world and is perfect for students with an interest in social justice and the arts.
If you are interested in working with youth, check out Telling It, a trauma-informed expressive arts program that serves school-aged youth in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. For those with Spanish language skills, PALMA (Proyecto Avance: Latino Mentoring Association) could be right for you! PALMA students help Latinx students in the Ann Arbor area with their schoolwork and gives ESL lessons to their parents. Spanish speakers can also enroll in the Spanish Language Internship Project (SLIP), which exposes students to the study of Latinx experiences and provides opportunities for students to engage with the Latinx community through a weekly internship.
Looking to expand your horizons beyond Ann Arbor? We’ve got community engagement programs for that! Semester in Detroit (SID) is an immersive experience which helps students foster intentional, sustainable relationships with people, organizations, and communities in Detroit. Students participate in community-based internships, take Detroit-based classes, and live in the city. French speakers with an interest in Detroit can also enroll in Freedom House Detroit, a course that send advanced students to Freedom House, an organization that provides shelter and legal help to victims of persecution who are seeking asylum in the US.
If you participate in a community engagement program in the RC, it’s pretty much guaranteed to change your life. Alums of our programs tell me time and again that their community engagement experience recalibrated their values, changed their academic priorities, or set them down a new career path they had never considered.
These programs will challenge you, push you outside your comfort zone, and help you develop skills you didn’t even know you had. They will expand your community beyond campus and make you think about the world in new and exciting ways.
Lecturer III, Residential College
Director, Prison Creative Arts Project