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Buffalo Co-Lab

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Buffalo Co-Lab advances an equitable economy and democratic community, collaboratively integrating scholarly and practical understanding to strengthen civic action.

A Letter to the high road class of 2023

Laila and Cathy at Niagara Falls mural

By Laila Rahbari

A Letter to the high road class of 2023


Dear High Roader,

Congratulations, you made it! You took the leap, and now you're here. You probably kept hearing about his fellowship that you didn't know much about, and alumni presumably walked up to you and told you you had to do this. Yes, I know. You likely talked to someone about the fellowship and how great it was and applied because of that. We've all been there. But deep down, you applied because you knew this thing would be great. If you are like me, you probably started this journey thinking, "what on earth did I commit to? I'm going to live in Buffalo for eight weeks?" Yes. And it will be incredible. It will be meaningful and maybe even a little emotional. What they don't tell you about Buffalo is that it's not just the city of good neighbors but the city of perfect weather in June in July. It's also the city of great architecture from the 1920s. It's also the sixth most segregated city in the united states. Once you move into the west side, let the perfect weather and the great neighbors grow on you, you will begin to learn about why you are here. You will learn about the Tops massacre and the details afterward. You will learn about historically racist urban planning and a city government that does nothing. You will learn about all the injustices of Buffalo. Then after that settles, you will feel a commitment to a city you just moved into one week ago. That's the high road fellowship. It may not be easy at first. It may not be all rainbows and sunshine, but it will be one of the best decisions you make. And you will understand all of that before the end of week one. After week one, you will have already explored parts of the city that someone living here for 20 years hasn't. You will bond with the people around you faster than at any other time in undergrad. And you will spend the next seven weeks after that making an impact. That's the high road fellowship. That's what you said yes to. 


Good luck fellows. 

Laila, High road class of 2022