I experienced a form of enlightenment from our discussion around race, diversity, and inclusion in Detroit during our Leadership Friday, and the events following.

That night as I walked down Woodward Avenue, I questioned my role within the city. Did the values and experiences I’ve lived since moving to Detroit contribute to its story in a meaningful way? I felt some solace in knowing that I was part of an impactful program through Challenge Detroit. But why was *I* so privileged to have the opportunity? I questioned if I belonged in Challenge Detroit, and the city of Detroit itself.

I hopped on the Qline, and as it stopped at Grand Circus park, my gaze met the eyes of a man in need, a man that before I might have averted my eyes to avoid a confrontation. However, as I thought about the discussions we had just earlier that day, I wanted to make sure my interactions had a positive impact within the Detroit community. How might I make this man know that I see him and I acknowledge him, with the insight and understanding of all I had learned earlier?

As I looked up, the man smiled and waved. A simple, universal act, but an act that meant so much to me in the scope of what I had learned. Smile and wave – to just be good to one another. That’s all it takes. I did the same back at him.

His acknowledgment of me meant more than what I was trying to accomplish in acknowledging him. In that moment, I no longer questioned my role in the city and program – I felt I belonged. 

As the Qline pulled up at my stop at Campus Martius, I got off the streetcar with a new found sense of meaning. Looking up and walking out into the heart of Detroit, I couldn’t help but smile and wave.