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Students Have ‘Smashing’ Time on Spring Break in the D

Students Have 'Smashing' Time on Spring Break in the D

Twelve intrepid students and two faculty members traded deserted islands this past spring break for deserted houses.  Instead of donning sunglasses and hitting the beach, this group donned safety goggles and smashed concrete.

As part of “Spring Break in the D,”  students volunteered with six Detroit organizations throughout the week and focused their work on a variety of issues including: poverty, homelessness, education, urban farming and neighborhood renovation.

“Opportunities like alternative spring break empower students to create a better world,” says Greenhills service learning coordinator Alyssa Cooper.

Students Have 'Smashing' Time on Spring Break in the DServing in a soup kitchen, tutoring inner-city kids, painting, and busting up concrete behind dilapidated houses were just a few of the week’s activities.

But beyond the activities themselves, students say that the highlight of the trip wasn’t just smashing concrete foundations, it was smashing their perceptions of Detroit.

“Detroit is nothing like I imagined it growing up in Ann Arbor all these years,” says Grace Judge ’12.  “Of course it’s facing some serious problems, but the upside is that the people aren’t afraid to experiement with new and and original ideas.”

Students heard a lot of new ideas when they met with an array of young entrepreneurs in the forefront of Detroit’s revitalization, including: Phil Cooley (PonyRide), Amy Kaherl (Detroit Soup), Ben Falik (Summer in The City), John George (Blight Busters) and Bobby Smith (En Garde).

Similar sentiments were shared by Christina Bartson ’13, who wrote, “I have often overlooked and even insulted Detroit…but when you start to learn about all the projects going on in the streets, in the neighborhoods, and in abandoned buildings, it’s extremely evident that Detroit is a city of people helping people.”

“Detroit is a city of opportunities, where new models must be invented to solve new problems, and no one is underappreciated,” reflects Alina Dunlap ’12, ” I am deeply in a love with a city I used to fear.”

“Detroit is amazing,” agrees Bartson.  “I’m definitely going back.  I think I’m hooked.”

Click here to view more photos.


Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.