This organization is fantastic. I have spent the last eight months with 21 fantastic teenagers and I have learned more than I ever thought possible. We have learned about each others cultures, histories, and religions. We have seen each group's successes and failures. And what I have learned has helped me challenge my own beliefs, notions, and stereotypes. This will help me better serve my community today, tomorrow and far into the future. An organization that can do this is extremely rare.
This organization is amazing! They take a group of teens in the time of life where they are very self-focused and introduce them to the world! I am so impressed with this group. They select a group of teens who would never intersect in real life, then they challenge them, stimulate them, educate them, and show them their history, their culture and the world in which they live. They come through the experience not only older and wiser, but committed to promoting social justice and working to better the planet. Hooray for OUDC!
OUDC was a lifechanging experience. I learned about, history, culture, religion, civil rights, the importance of activism, public speaking, music and made lifelong friends. I can only praise OUDC and recommend it to others.
By far the most impactful experience of my 22 years. there is no other real life experience quite like this. Because of OUDC I co-founded tufts African american alliance.
Operation Understanding DC is a wonderful program. It provides students an eye-opening experience to learn about important social as well as political issues in the U.S., and I know first hand that it has had a strong impact on students.
Operation Understanding has been such an integral part of my personal development. As a student and then as Program Director, I saw the program change the ways in which people from different backgrounds communicate about important issues in our world. OUDC is all at once a leadership development program; a college-preparatory experiential learning course; and an example of the power young people have to end racism and discrimination in all their forms. The staff and Board of Directors of OUDC care deeply about the mission of the organization and make meaningful connections with students, parents, and families that are long-lasting.
When I joined other teenagers from the DC area, all black and/or Jewish, I had no idea what to expect. I went in almost clueless about the connections between the two communities, and came out with some of the closest friends and richest experiences I've ever had.
I was a participant in OUDC. I was interested in the program because I knew little about the connection between the African-American and Jewish communities. OUDC is a great program because I learned about the historical significance of this connection and about modern race-relations. As a group, we shared our personal stories of racism/ anti-Semitism and our reactions to speakers/events. Our Summer Journey was our chance to truly bond. We traveled to New York City and the Deep South over a month-long journey in July. My class laughed, cried, and sang together. We were unified by our desire to educate ourselves on parts of history that are over-looked. Although we argued and complained, I feel like that was all part of the process. I learned to recognize the differences in people, and at the same time, realize that if I made the effort, I could find the similarities. Although we discussed the past, OUDC is a program that also focuses on the future. In the final stage of the program, we facilitated discussions on stereotypes to churches, synagogues, and youth groups. I now feel a need to speak out against passive racism, when before I would have let things go that didn't necessarily apply to me. As a college freshman, I try my best to continue to speak out against things that are racially offensive. Without OUDC, I don't think I would have had the courage or even recognized the need to speak up.
There are hardly words to describe my experience with Operation Understanding DC (OUDC). OUDC changed my life by challenging me to recognize the inequities and injustice that surrounds me everyday, and has empowered me to strive to make positive change. Inspired by OUDC, I have organized a Black-Jewish dialogue/programming group on my college campus, and have educated many on the relationship between our two groups. Further, OUDC has lead to me study race relations and social justice in school...this has led me to pursue a masters in public health in order to hopefully one day relieve America's population of vast health/health care disparities that plague our nation in unimaginable ways. OUDC is with me everyday and I am so grateful for the experience I had in Class 12.
OUDC changed my life and taught me how to have the confidence in myself, and also gave me the skills that I needed to be an effective leader in my community.