Senior Ashenna Williams took part in a trip to Maine with the assistance of English teacher Andrew Kemp and College Transition Advisor Tracy Jones. Kemp introduced this trip to his class and Jones helped find a scholarship to finance it.
“Detroit Youth Sailing Foundation reached out to individuals at various Detroit public high schools asking us to support them and encouraging students to apply for the scholarship opportunity where they would spend two weeks in Maine for the summer,” said Jones. “We were fortunate that we had a number of students to apply.”
In addition to completing needed paperwork, Jones worked with Williams to see that she was prepared mentally and physically.
“We were graded on consistency of effort, skill acquisition, expedition craft, assertiveness, leadership, justice, compassion, physical fitness, and finally courage and resilience. The grading was 0-5, and I was graded a 3+ in every category,” said Williams. “I got over my fear of water and learned to swim and rock climb.”
During the visit in Maine, Williams stayed on the boat and had many achievements through hands-on learning. The people around Williams motivated her to keep going even when she was seasick and wanted to go home.
“Some things we learned were tacking, steering, setting up the sail, taking down the sail, rowing, and etc. We had to work together and work on our team bonding and leadership skills,” said Williams.
This trip to Maine was Williams’s first time on an airplane and she was the only African American student there. Students sailed Tinker Island, Mount Desert Island, and Hurricane Island.
“I’ve never actually been outside the city of Detroit so leaving Michigan to go to another state by myself had a small effect on me,” she said. “Being the only African American at the program was uncomfortable at first because I’m not used to being around other races.
“I’ve never been out on the water so sailing the Pacific Ocean and seeing different aquatic animals left a huge impact on me. It gave me a sense of diversity.”