The metro Detroit area remains one of the most racially, ethnically, and culturally segregated areas in the entire nation. Metro Detroiters, in general, rarely have regular, meaningful interactions with people who do not share similar racial and cultural backgrounds. A 2002 Detroit News study confirmed that students in metropolitan Detroit attend schools where nearly 90% of their classmates belong to the same racial or ethnic group. This kind of cultural divide hinders students who will soon be immersed into a multi-cultural university or workplace setting and inhibits the empathy, communication skills, and rich experiences that diversity can offer.
Recognizing the limitations that metro Detroit students face as a result of their polarized home, school and worship environments, Generation of Promise has partnered with Focus: HOPE to launch an innovative diversity program that will incorporate photography and leadership training into its curriculum. This program, Generation of HOPE (GOH), will provide the opportunity for high school students from the tri-county area to explore inter-cultural relations; overcome misinformed stereotypes; build relationships incorporating a wider sense of community; and explore photography as a creative outlet to make connections with communities outside of their own.
GOH plans to partner with several community members and institutions that will make the program especially enriching for its youth participants. To conduct and guide the in-depth discussion, presentation, and sessions, GOH will leverage its current connections to community leaders and innovators in various communities, including: the Charles H. Wright Museum, New Detroit, El Nacimeiento, Detroit Asian Youth Project, Cesar Chavez High School, Arab American National Museum, and others.
The program’s primary goals are to: challenge students to reconsider the various boundaries that divide them and explore the diversity of life experiences present in different racial, ethnic, socio economic and neighborhood groups; teach students the basics of point-and-shoot photography that will allow them to explore and photograph different communities; and graduate a cohort of students who will be able communicate in, thrive in, and promote multi-cultural spaces in the city and its suburbs.
GOH proposes to meet these goals by exposing participants to diverse realities through cultural immersion; diversity workshops; regular interaction between students; and scheduled photo shoot sessions that will allow students to creatively explore the communities of focus.