Aesculapians is a service honor society made up of students from the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Each member is nominated and selected based on their dedication to service within the School of Medicine and the Detroit community. Each year, we partner with a local mission-centered service organization committed to Detroit’s population, which we fondly refer to as our Charity of the Year. Through this year long partnership, Aesculapians members work side by side with the organization via volunteering and fundraising to help support the mission of the selected charity.
At the end of each academic year, Aesculapians host an annual event called Lampoon to raise money and public awareness for our Charity of the Year. Our Lampoon is an evening variety show full of satirical takes on how being a medical student changes our lives through unique experiences and serves as our largest fundraiser for the selected Charity of the Year. This year, Aesculapians is so excited to have Know Allegiance Nation (KAN) as our selected Charity of the Year for 2020-2021!
Throughout the fall of 2020, Aesculapians partnered with KAN to help develop and maintain their Firehouse Garden outdoor space. We worked together- while wearing masks and staying safe- to create planters and garden spaces, paint rainwater collection barrels and fences, begin preparations for an outdoor art alleyway, and a variety of other tasks. We ended every day by writing a community poem together reflecting on our experience– this was a new experience for many of our members, and we loved getting to express ourselves creatively together! Our members absolutely loved getting outside, learning about KAN and the garden’s history and goals, and having a way to see each other safely while staying active during the pandemic. We hope to resume working at the Firehouse Garden as the weather gets warmer, and are absolutely honored that KAN included us in this endeavor!
As we transitioned into the winter and the new year, KAN and Aesculapians continued to brainstorm ways we could promote KAN’s mission of literacy, education, and activism, all with COVID-19 in the background. One of our combined fundraising efforts involved a Holiday Booksale, in which we sold books to our medical community from KAN’s co-op bookstore, many of which are written by Detroit authors of color. We also began placing our efforts towards promoting Know Allegiance Nation’s very own community radio station called “Operation Rebel”. We were thrilled to be able to utilize this platform to further promote KAN’s visions while sharing about our own backgrounds as medical students in Detroit. Beginning in December, we began hosting weekly podcast discussions on topics ranging from how to socially distance during COVID-19, the importance of mental health during the pandemic, holiday traditions, favorite authors and novels, food insecurity and local restaurants within Detroit, and what it means for us to be students in Detroit during this season.
Recently, we also spent an afternoon learning about the history of Operation Rebel, the many facets of hosting a radio show, and the technical intricacies involved in editing audio- all of which was led and hosted by KAN’s very own Creative Director, Jamii Tata. Moving forward, we hope to shed spotlights on Michigan authors of color by reading poetry, short-stories, and children’s books written by those authors and sharing them through the radio. We also hope to join Deena Allen- one of KAN’s empowering youth leaders- to help promote her own show and have discussions on topics such as anime and gaming.
Partnering with Know Allegiance Nation these past few months have been nothing short of extraordinary. Aesculapian members have learned what it means to be an advocate for our Detroit community through gardening, literacy, and storytelling in the form of radio and podcasts. We have formed strong friendships not only with members of the KAN community but also with each other. There are many exciting projects we hope to be involved in over the next few months, and we are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to grow, learn from, and partner with KAN. We want to sincerely thank Jamii Tata and Deena Allen for their steadfast leadership and promotion of service within the Detroit community. KAN has been a huge source of inspiration for every member within Aesculapians, and we are so excited to see what we can accomplish together as we finish off this year!
**More information about Aesculapians, our members, and our past Charity of the Years can be found at aesculapians.org.