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.
It is difficult to describe in words how meaningful my OUDC experience was, and how important it has been to my life. It was in OUDC that I was truly introduced to brilliant, enthusiastic people of different backgrounds and cultures. It was in OUDC that I learned how important it was to devote my life to improving my community and society at large. The staff has had a tremendous impact in building my self-confidence, public-speaking ability, and understanding of people whose lives differ from my own. OUDC taught me to question what I thought I knew, and seek out the answers that I recognized I did not know. Nearly a decade later, it remains in many ways the most important formative experience of my life.
I will never forget my OUDC class 9 experience for as long as I live. OUDC taught me a lot about my own heritage as an American Jew as well as a deeper understanding of the experience of blacks in the U.S. In many ways, I feel that I have a greater appreciation for this country's history and the American experience today through this program. I sincerely believe that everyone should have the chance to participate in a program like OUDC.
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 DC (OUDC) introduced me to inspiring places, peers, and activists as part of a year-long program with other Jewish and African-American teens. With the knowledge I gained in OUDC, I feel I MUST continue work in eradicating racism, anti-semitism, and all other forms of discrimination.
OUDC had a huge and lasting impact on my life. The program introduced me to critical thinking about racial and judicial history in the U.S. and introduced me to people from my own city who I never would have had the chance to meet, and whose experiences opened my eyes to the world around me. Since OUDC, I have been active in communal and political events, always with an eye toward democracy and justice.
OUDC was an amazingly effective facilitator of cultural, religious, historical and social exploration. It expanded my understanding of complex social issues and helped me grow to be comfortable engaging in dialogue on tough issues, even with people I don't know well. It also gave me a better understanding of who I am.
OUDC quite literally changed my life. It instilled in me a commitment to racial justice that has informed my career and educational pursuits ever since.
There are no words that can explain the impact that OUDC has done for me. The experiences and the people I met throughout the journey has had a lasting impression on me.
OUDC continues to have a profound impact on me, even though I participated in the program ten years ago. Academically, I was inspired to study the Civil Rights Movement in college because of exposure through OUDC to the places and people involved in the Movement. Personally, OUDC introduced me to the people who remain my closest friends. But the most important lesson I learned from OUDC is that everyone has a story to tell. As a teenager, I was so excited to learn of the varying lives of my fellow participants. Now as a teacher, I share the same appetite for learning of the lives of my students. OUDC taught me how to ask questions and how to find connections -- even with people with whom I never would have expected to share commonalities.
OUDC has been one of the mose influential experiences on my life thus far. It has taught me so much about not only my own culture and race buth jewish culture. It was an amazing opputunity to meet 31 other great students and share moments I know none of us will ever forget. I was in class 12 and memories of oudc are with me every day.
Operation Understanding DC led me to reevaluate my core beliefs: on race, on religion, on my country's history, and on my future priorities.
I participated in the 12th class of OUDC and started my OUDC journey over four years ago. While the official program lasted about a year, the journey will last for the rest of my life. Learning about the different forms of discriminatory attitudes and stereotypes that society and each one of us holds and beginning to work to fight against my own stereotypes and those ingrained in societal structures in OUDC has led me to concentrate on inequalities studies in college. Outside of academics, OUDC has helped me to open myself to new experiences in terms of race relations and also generally. Overall, OUDC has changed the way I see myself and my interactions with others. It has helped me to realize and given me the tools to fight against inequalities that I see in the world.
As a former participant, I feel that OUDC was instrumental both to my personal development and my decision to take issues of social change seriously.
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 participated in OUDC about 6 years ago and its work in breaking down religious and racial divides has been a real foundation for my work as a community organizer.
I joined other Black and Jewish youth in year-round workshops about historical struggles and modern day approaches to fighting for social justice. The highlight was a month-long civil rights-focused journey into the Deep South. We talked with different players of the Civil Rights Movement, including those active today. They included a journalist who has worked to prosecute klansmen, a woman who suffered during the Edmund-Pettis Bridge police beating, and members of the reconciliation project in Greensboro. The pace was always dizzying, but the material remained rich and impactful. Eventually, we became the subjects of our own histories as we spread out into the community to share what we had learned.
I have seen first-hand the great work that this organization has done with the youth of D.C. It is truly a positive influence in the community.
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.
As a parent of an OUDC student and volunteer, I have been so impressed with the work of OUDC in bringing kids and their parents together to get past any cultural differences and work together to bring about social change. The strong friendships among the group and their commitment to changing the world gives hope that the next generation will solve some of our longstanding social problems.
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.
My experience as a member of Operation Understanding DC's Class 11 is something that I can never forget. Brought together our Junior year of high school, a time when most seek to explore their identity and understand what they want to hold on to as they head off to college, OUDC was the ideal environment for reflecting. In talking with several Civil Rights leaders, we were given the chance to reflect about our respective heritage as well as the common links that bind humans cross-culturally. My experience with the group has led me to constantly reevaluate my role and responsibility in a world that suffers still from problems of discrimination.
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.
OUDC is a singular experience. I completed the OUDC program as a member of the 13th class almost two years ago, but to this day my experiences in it have maintained their grasp on the way in which I act within and view the world.
I participated in this program several years ago and the summer trip greatly improved my understanding of the Civil Rights Movement. The experience also made me feel strongly about how much farther we have to go as a nation in order to ensure equal rights for all. As our group toured through Southern towns where African Americans still could not join country clubs because it was "simply tradition," I realized I was having an opportunity few Americans have: seeing how the past, present, and future of our country mix and mingle in American homes and streets.
I have seen OUDC change the lives of the students who participate. They dream big, and their enthusiasm inspires their families, friends and audiences. They make us all believe that, through their sheer willpower, there will be a future free of racism and Antisemitism.
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.
One of my best friends has been involved in the OUDC for years now. She has put incredible time and effort into her involvement with the organization which in turn has been integral in shaping who she is today and doubt who she will be tomorrow. As a result she consistently amazes me with the care and involvement she puts forth in bettering her community, not just in Washington D.C. but in every place she ventures. The OUDC has instilled in her qualities that i greatly admire and made her not just a friend but a role model to me as well.
OUDC has played a significant role in shaping my everyday thought process. I have learned so much not only about my own culture but also so much about different religions and the Jewish culture. I have had the opportunity to live and breathe significant moments in US history and have been forever changed. I don't think that I realized how much I grew as a person from my year-long venture in the program until afterwards. OUDC breeds community activist leaders and pushed me to get involved in my community. It helped me learn about my surroundings more and look critically at social political movements. It is an excellent organization and feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in it.
One of my very good friends from high school participated in OUDC and thought it was one of the best experiences she had throughout her years. It is always so important, especially in a city like DC, to support and encourage understanding between racial, ehtnic, religious, and socio-economic boundaries. This is such a beneficial program for all kinds of people and so many people I know that have been involved say it has made them realize the importance of cooperation and understanding, and has helped them move forward in their lives with new outlooks. I have personally been affected by my third-party participation and really appreciate everything I have experienced and learned through OUDC.
I am a graduate of OUDC class 6. I have been actively involved in many nonprofit organizations, but none have left such a lasting impact as OUDC. The experience I attained from my involvement with OUDC is invaluable. Not only did I attend various workshops addressing prejudice, but I also had the opportunity to engage my peers and in turn expand my outlook on the various prejudices different groups face. Had I not been given the opportunity to be a part of the OUDC organization I fear I would have been more apprehensive in stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing myself the opportunity to experience new situations.
I participated in OUDC in high school and it's had a lasting impression - though i'm neither Muslim nor Jewish I helped start a Muslim-Jewish dialogue group at my college in part because people knew I had experience and skills in cross cultural dialogue facilitation. I have lasting memories of the month long summer trip that have been incredibly impactful, including an experience with the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama that has informed my decision to go to law school and use those skills for those most vulnerable and in need of legal aid. In addition to this I made lifelong friendships.
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.
As a member of OUDC Class 14, I can honestly say that it completely changed the way I view the world and myself. From speaking with powerful activists to discussing the issues that occur in our society today, I gained a wealth of information about myself and my peers that continues to resonate in my life today. The topics we discussed as a class prove to be relevant in my everyday life, and I know that I will continue to be close with the friends that I met through OUDC. It was an amazing experience for me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
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.
I was part of class one and the experiences I had as a participant have really shaped my perspective for live. There are experiences, from politicians like Eleanor Holmes Norton and Barney Frank talking to us to, most of all, the intimate relationships made with other members of the group, that I will never forget.
As a member of OUDC class 11 I can attest to how great a program it truly is. I learned to appreciate the rich culture and history of African Americans as well as my own Jewosh American heritage. The program taught me how to deal with discrimination both directed at me and at others. Furthermore it gave me the opportunity to meet many great people and visit some very important places. OUDC has certainly had a profound affect on my life.
As a fellow Washingtonian, I believe OUDC is a perfect example of the type of programs that can really make a difference today. Unfortunately, I was never able to become active in the program; however, I truly believe our society today needs to implement the type of understanding and tolerance advocated in OUDC. It is an amazing program, and the District is fortunate enough to have it!
Five years ago, I entered OUDC as a member of Class 11. I am now a senior in college and I still think about OUDC everyday. OUDC helped give me causes to care about, ways in which to think about them, and the courage and confidence to act on them. I learned so much about other cultures, about my own culture, and about myself, and grew as a writer, speaker, and person through the program. This year, as I try to figure out what to do in my post-college life, I at least know that I hope to find a job in which I can continue to work towards the kind of world we envision in OUDC.
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.
I was not a member of this organization; my niece was. I was pleased to offer them some financial support because the kids were greast and the goials were worthy. Gerald Linda
I was never fortunate to be a participant in OUDC but i had friends in high school who were part of the program. It is such an important organization to bridge African American and Jewish youth in our DC community. My friends made invaluable friendship and learned an incredible amount about their peers' cultural backgrounds, which in so many ways were similar to theirs. The students shared holidays, milestones and generally bonded as high school friends in an educational, challenging and fun setting. The summer trip that the group took to important Jewish and African American sites in the South was an opportunity that every student should have. I wish I had been able to see the places and meet the people that they did.
OUDC is an amazing program that provides youth from all socioeconomic classes in DC the opportunity to engage in a year long program learning about and working towards social justice through the lens of the Civil Rights movement as well as from people working against injustices today. We are not only engrained with the message of action but learn how to spread that message to the greater community through speeches and facilitations that participants lead in the second half of the program.
OUDC is an incredible program that has enhanced racial and cultural understanding among people who would have met otherwise. By combining a leadership training of sorts, racial and cultural tolerance and a better understanding of this country's complex and often tumultuous history, OUDC has shaped new leaders that will create a more tolerant world. This program has truly transformed lives.
OUDC has successfully transformed the perspectives of not only hundreds of young people, but also the many thousands they have connected with since their program years. Though I have been a teacher, mentor and trustee for the organization, I have also benefited and grown immeasurably by my contact with the students.
OUDC is an incredible program that changes the lives of the students who are fortunate enough to be apart of it. I truly cannot say more--this organization re-shapes the way young people think about culture, religion, responsibility and their place in the ever-globalizing world.
I was a member of OUDC class 11 and the experience has forever changed the way I interact with others and the world. Over a year of intense meetings, culminating in a month long spiritual and emotional journey through New York City and the heart of the southern United States, we explored the deep-rooted histories of African-American and Jewish people and the many places where these histories have intertwined. Not only did I set to rest many questions about my own Jewish heritage, but I learned how structures like institutionalized racism came to be in this country. The friends and memories I made on my year long journey with OUDC will be with me wherever I go in life. The program spurred my interest in social justice and I will forever be indebted to the organization for providing me such an eye opening experience.
Learning about the Civil Rights Movement, and the role that young people played, and meeting with Civil Rights leaders across the south, made me realize how important it is for our generation to keep the struggle for social justice alive. OUDC makes you think about tough questions facing our community and our country, and once you begin to think about what's going on in the community, you can't stop thinking about it. Operation Understanding gave me the opportunity to meet people and develop lifelong friendships with people from all over the Washington, DC, area who I would never had met. Those friends, who I continue to learn from, our invaluable and I would never have had such a diverse group of friends without OUDC.
I was a member of Class 3 of Operation Understanding DC high school students, and my experience began when I was a junior in high school in 1997. Our year long program helped me to make friends from all walks of life, and to understand my potential to create change in the context of a larger civil rights movement, a movement in which much has been accomplished, but in which a lot more work remains to be done. Our summer journey, and especially the time we spent in cities in the south that served as major battlegrounds during the Civil Rights Movement, had a profound impact on me. I chose to become a lawyer and pursue a career grounded in ideals of social justice based in large part on my experience with Operation Understanding DC. This organization deserves to be recognized for the unparalleled experiences that it affords to its participants and the promotion of tolerance it brings to the entire DC area community.
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.
Operation Understanding DC was more than just a great experience. For me, the program served as the beginning of a socially active life that I am still living today. On the summer journey, I met a Civil Rights activist that told me I was capable of doing anything I put my heart into. I'd heard that same phrase many times before, but it was hearing it that extra time from someone with so much passion and history that set me into motion. Because of everything the program offered and taught me, I feel able to affect change wherever I go. Currently, I lead a multicultural leadership program at my college that brings together the campus and its surrounding community. I find that I utilize the tools I garnered from OUDC on a regular basis and that I do a better job because of the things I learned. I can't express in this paragraph how much OUDC meant to me while I was a participant and how much it means to me now. It is a truly fantastic program!
I was a member of Class 11 and still can remember all of the things that were instilled in me as we spent our year together. The program offers a wonderful, unbiased view of the histories of both groups and gave us a collective knowledge that we could all draw from as we went on our journey. The journey, our month-long tour of the Civil Rights Movement, made quite an impact on me, and I remember coming back from the trip inspired, and with a burning desire to help others and be open to all cultures. Living my life in a positive way, encouraged to engage in dialogues with people of all cultures, and being able to understand things in new ways have all contributed to where I am today, and I look forward to passing along the lessons and values I learned and gained in this program as I graduate from college.
Operation Understanding DC was a life-changing experience. Eight years later I am still feeling the effects of my participation with this group. Not only does OUDC provide an eye-opening educational opportunity, but the program itself is a powerful tool in training life-long leaders who are committed to the fight for equal rights and greater cross-cultural understanding. OUDC!
I am proud to have been a member of OUDC Class 9 in 2003-04. The best thing I can say about OUDC is how deeply it influenced me during my college years and beyond. First, I learned about OUDC because so many people I knew at my school had participated in prior years. After my participation, this continued. In fact, I encouraged my younger brother to apply and participate three years later, which he did. Having the opportunity to learn about African-American cultural history led me to major in Religion while attending Amherst College. Apart from my own Jewish religious background (which is deeply meaningful to me), I was exposed to African American religious traditions, which I found fascinating and meaningful. In addition, I resided in the Charles Drew Black Culture House at Amherst College during my sophomore year. In short, without OUDC, my understanding of American history, culture, politics, and religion would be much less complete. The critical point is not that I learned all there is to know, but that it is always possible and always important to learn more about other cultures and that the best way to do so is through direct relationships with others. It is one thing to read numerous books; but to meet people and get to know them is a far more powerful thing.
As a member of OUDC Class 14, I learned about the African American and Jewish communities across the country. We met with some of the most famous leaders of the Civil Rights movement, and spoke with many other influential people. After the Simmer journey to New York and the South, I held programs and led workshops to help OUDC's message of peace and understanding reach out to others. Operation Understanding DC has been the most life changing experience for me.
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.
As a member of class 11 I can say that the lessons learned in Operation Understanding have continued to permeate all aspects of my life and have acted as a guide for navigating the continually complex issues of multiculturalism and religion after high school and into college. I now am able to facilitate these important discussions and am trying to help people in my community see the world the way Operation Understanding taught me to see it. If OUDC taught me anything, it is that it’s not enough just to see what’s wrong with the world: I will only have truly learned something from my experiences if I can educate and motivate others to change. After all, it was at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford, Mississippi, where we were told that we are the people that we’ve been waiting for.
I was a part of OUDC class 13 and it is by far the best experience that I have taken part in. I not only learned so much about my own culture but about the Jewish culture as well. Before entering the program I considered myself an open person but upon graduating I realized that my horizon expanded far beyond what I ever imagined. OUDC has shaped my life in a way that I didn’t expect, and I am very appreciative of the experience.
As a former participant of the organization (class 8), I can say without hesitation that OUDC was a life-changing experience that continues to play a role in my life today. With OUDC, I learned skills around cultural understanding, facilitating workshops, and intergroup dialogue. OUDC led me to both study Sociology in college and ultimately pursue a career in social justice.
OUDC's approach enables young leaders to form meaningful relationships while learning about historical injustices. They take their knowledge and friendships with them into their current high schools and communities, as well as into their future experiences at college and in the workplace. OUDC adds value to individual lives and thereby transforms communities.
When I was 16 I had the opportunity to participate in an amazing experience because of this organization. We learned all about the civil rights movement, and the importance of social justice in our everyday lives. Traveling through the deep south with my peers changed my perspective and my life. I am now a teacher in the inner city, working with the tools that OUDC gave me years ago, and are still entirely relevant today.
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