Generation of Promise provides exchange of ideas and hope
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
Generation of Promise is more than just a student exchange program between metro-Detroit schools. It involves the next generation exploring different cultures, experiences and challenges, hoping they will make a promising future.
Generation of Promise is run by Focus Hope in Detroit. Focus Hope gathers about 25 schools from the entire metro-Detroit area, according to Maria Mitzel, Student Activities director. They discuss all kinds of topics that impact the metro-Detroit area.
“They (Grosse Pointe South students) talk about things like homelessness, they actually go to outreach centers to talk about how they got there and the challenges they face,” Mitzel said. “When I first took over this job we were only allowed three students. I’ve raised that up to five, thankfully, because I kept asking for more,” Mitzel said.
The students in Generation of Promise develop connections with their “families” at the other 25 metro-Detroit schools participating, according to Mitzel.
“It’s all about learning about the Detroit-metro area, the challenges that people within the Detroit-metro area face. It’s exposing our students to different cultures,” Mitzel said. “We do a student exchange where we bring students within their family here. And they (the South students) go to their school.”
According to Mitzel, the biggest attribute to Generation of Promise is the sharing of ideas.
“Being able to meet peers outside of the normal peers you interact with,” Mitzel said. “Generation of Promise is almost like going to the state conference for Student Councils. You get to explore ideas, see how other schools do things and sometimes the ideas you learn there are helpful here.”
According to Alex Fahle ’18, people must be really aware of what’s happening right now in the world, especially if they want to be part of Generation of Promise.
“I was thinking about all the issues our country is still facing and how relevant it has especially become in this time, so I wanted to get myself involved to see what else the world has to offer when it comes to justice and when it comes to inequality and trying to solve that,” Fahle said.
Besides learning about others and how they live, Mitzel wants her Generation of Promise kids to bring something the whole school can learn from back to South.
“‘How can we bring the message we learn back to Grosse Pointe South?’” Mitzel said. “‘How can these five students impact their peers at South?’, and we’re working on doing that, whether it’s through doing showcases (or) little presentations.”
According to Fahle, who went to Fordson High school, bringing back a message is just what his group did.
“We went to a mosque to learn about the religion and then we came back and shared everything with everyone,” Fahle said.
Last week, a Generation of Promise student from South Lake came to visit South.
“My impression of South was…mixed. There were things I loved, but things I thought I could also do without. The school itself is beautiful and I was especially taken by Cleminson Hall,” Isabelle Crane ’18 said. “The teachers I met were all very welcoming as well and seemed to all be really good at their jobs. But I will say that if my guide, Maren, didn’t introduce me to some of her friends, South would have felt very lonely and boring.”
Mitzel emphasized that the premise of Generations of Promise is to help people notice their differences and find ways to work on them.
“The whole idea is to teach students about our similarities and our differences and to embrace those and to see how we can work together as a community,” Mitzel said.
Crane illustrates many sharp differences between South Lake and South.
“South Lake is a much smaller school. It was clear to me that Grosse Pointe South also has more money and resources than South Lake,” Crane said. “The biggest difference would have to be the sheer lack of diversity. Coming from a school that is extremely diverse, it was so strange to see so many white people and so few people of color.”
Crane suggested breaking down social barriers in friend groups and was uncomfortable with what she felt was a lack of warmth among students.
“One thing I really enjoy about South Lake is how close the students are with each other and with their teachers. I think it’s really important to build strong relationships with your peers; especially those who are different from you,” Crane said. “High school at South felt plain, cold and a little scary. As soon as I walked through the doors I felt like I was an outsider; like I had walked into a clique I wasn’t supposed to be a part of.”
However, Crane thought all the teachers and staff were extremely warm.
“I just would like to add that overall I really enjoyed my time at South,” Crane said. “The teachers and staff I met were really spectacular and Maren’s friends were really welcoming and nice.”
The biggest thing South can learn from Generation of Promise is that all the schools aren’t that different. They’re all striving for the same goals, according to Mitzel.
“Our similarities and our differences, even though we may do things a little different or we have a different makeup of students, we are very much the same and we want the same things,” Mitzel said.