This organization does amazing work and has positively affected several Black and Jewish students and their families that I personally know. Each student goes forth not only a better human being but an ambassador for understanding and empathy, and a force for justice and peace. The organization changes the world one person at a time which is the best and only way to really be effective.
When I was introduced to OUDC I was in the 11th grade, and it changed my life. I was exposed to the jewish culture and shared dialouge about my history. I found my bestfriend (a jewish man) and continue to expose others to the lessons I learned in that year long program as a junior in high school.
I am an alumni of Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) Class 17. To write a simple review of this organization would be undermining its grandness, however I will try to keep it short. OUDC directed me towards a path so few of my fellow African-American brothers refuse to take. A peculiar path that holds delicate footprints of advocates for social justice instead of the common path stampeded with individuals who are indifferent towards society's problems. This organization has made me aware and active of social issues regarding not just the Black community, but the global community as well. As I conversed with my Jewish counterparts in the program, I became aware of issues that affected them and discovered many similarities. Our conversations helped me understand that OUDC was organized for the betterment of mankind. To understand each other is necessary for world peace and compromise. I thank God for this program because it has awakened the leader within me.
This program was life-changing for me (Class 13). One of the greatest and most profound experiences of my life. To learn what we did through this structure is brilliant. Jewish and Black American cultures, the Civil Rights Movement, dialogue workshops... while making lifelong friends and getting to visit some of the most important places in American history with the actors who helped make the Civil Rights Movement a success? C'mon...what more could you want?
Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) is by far the greatest thing I have participated in my life and my experiences from the program have played a major role in my life. OUDC brings together Black and Jewish rising seniors from the DC area in a year-long program. In it, I learned. I learned about history; of Black culture in the United States: slavery, literature, the Civil Rights Movement, West African song and dance; the history of the Jewish people: ancient Israel, assimilation and persecution in Europe and the Holocaust, immigration through Ellis Island. We learned about the shared community of Blacks and Jews in SW DC that existed into the 70's. We learned that our families can cook some pretty delicious traditional foods. Our month-long summer bus trip through NYC and the South was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life. I visited the monumental places of the Civil Rights Movement, like the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Lorraine Motel; met with both leaders of and participants in the Civil Rights Movement; saw beautiful Southern synagogues whose memberships had dwindled down to enough barely to hold a mincha; prayed at churches, synagogues, and mosques, and got an experience of Jewish summer camp at Camp Ramah in Georgia. But what really defined OUDC for me was how much I came to understand myself. And that came not only through the lectures, the video clips from Eye's on the Prize, and the workshops on dialogue facilitation, but through the people who were in OUDC Class 13 with me. At first they were my fellow classmates, and then my friends, and finally a family I will never stop caring about. We learned from each other, having a fun time doing it, and I loved every second of it. My friends in OUDC helped open my eyes and mind outward, and eventually inward, not only to the necessities and opportunities for racial, ethnic, and religious dialogue, but to how different every person is, even if we have a shared religion, race, area code, or flag. Every person has their own beliefs and views, unique experiences and memories, and stories that should be shared. It is a beautiful thing, how we different we all are, and how much people can learn from one another, between individuals, and within our communities, our neighborhoods, our countries, our cultures, our world. And we need to talk to one another, as individuals, as groups, as countries. The facilitation of dialogue is crucial if we want to bring ourselves together and begin laying the foundations for a world with less racial intolerance, religious discrimination, national conflicts, and fear of "the other." Operation Understanding DC enabled me to understand many things outside of what was "me." And through OUDC, I eventually began to understand myself, and how I am shaped by the world around me, and how I can help make it better. And the best part is, I had a hell of a good time doing it.
-traveling on a bus with 30 awesome people for 3 1/2 weeks!
-acquiring new knowledge about your own culture, religion, and SELF.
-forming lifelong relationships.
-meeting folks who were on the same balcony the day MLK died.
-hugging a Holocaust survivor.
-eating delicious Jewish & Southern style dishes.
-taking the stand for what is RIGHT.
-changing the WORLD.
Stop imagining, and PARTAKE! OUDC changed my life, are you ready for this JOURNEY?
I am an alumna of OUDC (Class 15). The opportunities and community that this program has given me are truly amazing. I still keep in touch with the program staff and my class. They have opened doors for me and I was able to intern this past summer with an organization that has a wonderful mission of peace and justice.
I have been involved as a volunteer (photographer) with OUDC for many years, and have continue to be inspired by the energy and uplifting values they foster. Many programs speak about social change and inter-ethnic dialog, but Operation Understanding has long and consistently effectively delivered on their mission, on their promise. I trust they are able to continue to build up our young people with the meaningful and proven skills that are embedded into the program's action plans.
OUDC has significantly improved the lives of numerous young people in the Jewish and African-American community in the DC area. I have been moved by the depth of the awareness of history, culture, communication, and personal growth it has engendered in its goal of increasing understanding and collaboration.
This program really helped me reach my full potential and develop my leadership skills. Operation Understanding DC provides support, education and fun. Operation Understanding is the best program I have ever participated in. I have been touched by the sincerity of the leaders and directors of OUDC and have met friends I will never forget. I have learned so much and can apply everything Operation Understanding has offered to my life. I am so glad I did the program.
This program is truly unique. I was encouraged to apply for the program by a school counselor and being accepted meant the world to me. This program lit me on fire with passionate Civil Rights activism history and gave me the opportunity to follow the history in the cities where they took place during the summer journey which followed the path of the 1961 Freedom Riders. This is a once in a life time experience that I was lucky to take part in and is one of the most important initiatives in order today that will help make this world a better place by teaching young leaders and instilling the fire that will never burn out for social justice and activism.
Operation understanding helped me figure out who I am as a person, my passions in life, and how to achieve everything I want. With the immense amount of negativity and hatred in the world, operation understanding was the light at the end of the tunnel. Oudc gave me the tools to combat discrimination and hatred while giving me the best friends that I could ever ask for. Oudc is so much more than an organization. It really is a family and an amazing one at that. It truly is hard to write in words how much oudc has touched my life and fantastic the organization really is.
OUDC is an amazing program for young teens to become even better leaders in their communities and really discover themselves. I think that by being a part of this program I have found a strong sense of self and much more self-confidence. OUDC gives you the skills to take all of the great information that you learn and share it with the rest of the world so that little by little everyone will be making changes in the way we think about other who think, feel, and act differently than ourselves.