Ali (third from left, sitting) with his cohort

I participated in the Semester in Detroit program during the Fall of 2019. It was the best semester of my life. I had the opportunity to increase my knowledge of and experience the city that I grew up living only 15 minutes away from, but knew almost nothing about. After the program, a lot of change was happening in my life all at the same time: I was moving into an ICC (Inter-Cooperative Council in Ann Arbor) Co-op; I had finally declared my major; Covid-19 became a huge issue; and all the while my family life was becoming toxic. I fell into an episode of depression that I hadn’t experienced for at least a year. One minute I was in Detroit, engaging with the community during field trips and in my internship, learning about community organizing and Detroit history, and making new connections every day. The next, I was alone in a co-op with 20 other people that I knew nothing about.

Before Semester in Detroit I was an antisocial person, but I learned to grow out of it a little during the program. After SiD, I found myself in the same predicament -- having to get to know 20 strangers all at once. I spent the first month at my new co-op mostly in my room and not getting to know many of my housemates. I started to realize, however, that this might not be much different from when I first had to adapt to my environment at Semester in Detroit. The only difference was that I had no guidance from anybody at the SiD program. I was now on my own. Nevertheless, I remembered how everyone at SiD and everyone who I interacted with in Detroit were so easily relatable and fun to communicate with. People that I met became my friends in just one day because they showed me some love. I decided to muster up enough courage to start talking to a couple of people and offer up my friendship similar to how everyone in Detroit did for me. Now, one of my best friends still lives in the co-op, and although I moved out and cannot go there because of Covid, I have maintained a strong relationship with my co-op friends

.The most important thing I learned from SiD, therefore, is how to communicate and how to create your own community. If it wasn’t for the guidance from my program directors, my friends from the Cass Corridor Commons, and the welcoming nature of every Detroiter that I met, I would have still been struggling to talk to new people. I would not have the small community/family that I have been able to create since then.