MOvE-in On Up

Belinda Jiang, Head of Media and Public Relations


After being a counselor at Michigan Overnight Experience (MOvE) last summer, I have the mission of MUSIC Matters’ MOvE down to a T: to inspire the pursuit of higher education for underprivileged kids. However, “underprivileged” does not define these kids, and it certainly does not constrain them. While they do not have the same ease of access to educational resources that perhaps you or I do, our past camp-goers have a notable ambition that reminds me of my past high school self.

I am honored to have been apart of the first annual MOvE camp last year. From goal-setting with representatives from the Admissions Office to running through the Big House turf with lung-bursting laughter, and then later settling down on the Diag with my small group of campers, I formed bonds with the students of Henry Ford Academy in Detroit faster than I thought was possible in merely two days. Now that MOvE’s timeline has been expanded to three days, I can only imagine how much more immersive the entire camp is going to be.

In addition to embarking on adventures such as a comprehensive tour through U of M’s campus, a supervised nighttime excursion through Downtown Ann Arbor for ice cream, and an expedition to view the vast beauty of the Arboretum, we also strived to implement leadership development activities in these kids, who displayed an interminable desire to learn and grow. In my opinion, one of the most important things we did as counselors was sit down with our small groups of students and get to know them better, imparting on them our advice, experiences, and stories from being in college. As the social media point person for MOvE, I had the joy of interviewing many of these campers and asking them why they decided to participate in MOvE, as well as their future plans. I was completely thunderstruck by their mature displays of leadership, enthusiasm for the future, and their understanding of college’s opportunities.

“After graduating from college, I want to own my own business,” one camper told me. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so widely in my life.

This summer, our entrepreneur-to-be is coming back as one of many Junior Counselors, who will help guide new MOvE campers through the experience and provide a more peer-oriented source of advice. They will continue to learn from the older counselors through new MOvE programs, such as major exploration and mock lectures.

Regardless of MOvE’s extensive list of activities, my favorite parts of it all were the moments that weren’t planned. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the spontaneous dance parties that brought us all together and made me laugh until my stomach hurt, or being the go-to counselor with an open ear for listening to drama amongst other things that I certainly do not miss about high school. When a camper presented us with an immaculate drawing of the Bell Tower on the last day of MOvE and told us all about his architectural dreams, I realized that MOvE is not just a platform that promotes the growth of young teens, but also for everyone involved, including me. Last year’s experience only strengthened my love for U of M and MUSIC Matters, and brought me closer to everyone involved. I cannot wait to see what this year brings.