Red and white balloons, the Polish flag, Paczkis (deep fried dough with fruit or cream filling) and other Polish treats set the scene at the Downtown Boxing Gym where a sendoff celebration took place for an ambitious DBG grad with big dreams. Asia Williams, a junior at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and Community Design, is headed to Warsaw, Poland for a study abroad program from February to June. It’s her first trip overseas and she says she’s ready for the academic adventure.

Asia holds up the Polish flag inside DBG

“We’ll be doing research on the city of Warsaw to see how the architecture is there and how the culture is there and we’ll incorporate that into our designs,” Asia explained. “I’ll also be taking a sculpting class, Polish language, and different art classes.”

Asia, a graduate of Cass Tech High School, first developed an interest in architecture in middle school. She quickly fell in love with the idea of designing functional and beautiful structures with people and surrounding communities in mind. Warsaw is known for its neoclassical architecture inspired by the Roman period.

“An international perspective will give you the ability to compete in an increasingly global profession and provides a priceless opportunity where an entire country is your classroom,” reads the U of D website.

Asia checks out the Polish desserts at her sendoff celebration

DBG trains students to set their own definition(s) of success and put in the work to get there. Asia is a prime example of that. She brought the idea of the study abroad trip to DBG and the team rallied around her. Asia was able to use funding from two H.T. Ewald Foundation Al ‘Blue’ Lewis scholarships she received through DBG to partially fund the trip. When DBG donors Mike and Sue Taylor learned about Asia’s big plans, they stepped up to cover $5,000 in remaining travel costs and inspired other donors to contribute.

“We are very grateful,” said Asia’s mom Kishya Curry. “I’m nervous for her to travel so far away but I’m really happy for her to experience the world and learn more about architecture.”

When Asia returns, she plans to hold a workshop with our college and career readiness students to share her experience.

“I think there’s so much that can be learned by expanding perspective and getting to know a place and its people who are different from you,” said Dan Finegan, an Associate Director of Academics at DBG. “I hope Asia finds a theme of kindness and curiosity that carries through this trip.”

Asia and family members at DBG

Safe travels, Asia! We’re excited to see your architectural knowledge and expertise continue to build.