I participated in OUDC as a junior in high school. My experience was without a doubt the most significant of my life. It inspired me to dedicate my college years to preparing myself for a career of public service and revolutionized my worldview with respect to the importance of diversity.
I participated in OUDC as a high school junior many years ago. The experiences I had that year affected many of my life choices since then. The program served as an inspiring call to action for me, by showing me that committed, passionate people can change the world when they work together towards a common, just goal. I often think back to the lessons learned in OUDC when engaging in dialogue about race and other difficult issues in our society. The experience was nothing short of spectacular, and I am gratified to see so many more students have the same opportunity to learn and become advocates for social justice.
I have come into contact with a great number of people who have done OUDC and it has changed their lives. I hope to have my children and their children get involved in this non-profit because it shares deep experience and promotes deep learning.
I completed Operation Understanding DC in 2002. Although it has been over 7 years since I graduated from the program, it is still to date, the most life altering experience that I have had. Throughout College, Law School, and in my work experience, I have been able to draw on my OUDC experience in various capacities, including how to address discrimination and how to engage in a productive dialogue with people who I may disagree with. The best part of Operation Understanding DC is that it is accessible to everyone. Had the program not been free, it is highly doubtful that I would have been able to participate and have the amazing cultural experience that I had as I travelled throughout the United States visiting sites of Civil Rights importance and sites that had significant Jewish History.
My wife and I were born in segregated states and had virtually no opportunity to meet youths who were not just like and so we felt like outsiders...just what segregation was designed to make us feel. It was therefore with the greatest joy that we watched our daughter make very good white friends in OUDC and I was powerfully touched as I saw this happy integrated group of youngster on buses tha would show what Americca really looked like. It was a wonderful trip and Elizabeth still has good white friends whome she met about 15 years ago in OUDC.
When looking for a meaningful organization to which I could render voluntweer services, I found a perfect fit with OUDC. For several years, I have been a member of the Recruitment/Selection Team, helping to choose the best students for each yeatr's class. OUDC annually brings together a group of African-American and Jewish young people (high school juniors) to give them an intensive and extensive experience in working toward the betterment of society. The goal is to expose the participants to people, plsces, and ideas that will help them understand and accept various cultural, sociological, ideological, and religious differences. The results: numerous outstanding OUDC graduates who have extended this knowledge into their college and professional worlds, thus reaching and teaching hundreds of others about tolerance, respect, acceptance, and understanding.
This was a unique experience for my entire family and me. It allowed me to meet new people, develop new understandings of my peers and my community, and learn about social justice history. It increased my civic awareness and made me a better, more engaged member of my community.
Sometimes I forget how OUDC changed my life. I try to explain to my friends and family about the experiences I have had, but really am unable to properly describe how the program impacted me and my peers. Not only do I know more information about race relations and religion because of OUDC, but it also set me on a path of social justice. I always knew that I wanted to "change the world," but OUDC gave me the skills, confidence, and experience to believe I can and never stop fighting the good fight. I credit OUDC for making me the person I am today and giving me the knowledge and strength to be a leader within my own communities as well as to use my unearned privilege to try and fix our society. OUDC has created some of the best leaders I have ever known, and I cannot wait to see what we will continue to accomplish because of this amazing organization.
I have heard numerous Operation Understanding students speak at my synagogue through the years and I have always been transfixed by all of them. It is clear that Operation Understandig provides a thoroughly inspiring and educational experience for the participants and they do a tremendous job of sharing their knowledge with their community
My daughter was a Class 11 member of OUDC. She gained great experience on diversity issues at OUDC. Now, she is always willing and ready to launch in any Deep South project she gets to know about. She introduced the Deep South project and travelled with her church youth group one summer. This summer, she was a member of her college Deep South project. She has made diversity issues her own where ever she finds herself. I am grateful to OUDC for the time she spent in the program.