I heard about Operation Understanding DC through a friend who is in the graduating class before me. Initially I was nervous about joining the organization. I thought I would be thrust into intimate situations with 22 strangers and this made me a little uneasy. Now, a senior, going into her last 5 months of OUDC it is bittersweet. My classmates and I came in strangers, we are now a unique family. I will miss the retreats and memorable speakers like Georgette Norman, director of the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. Though these thoughts are sad I am overjoyed and excited in entering the facilitation and speech making portion of our year long leadership program. I believe whole heartedly that my classmates and I will build a generation of community leaders that will promote respect and understanding in our communities, we WILL work to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, we will make this world a better place.
I first heard about Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) through my high school. When I read about the program, it made me realize that there was a good chance to learn about my history as well as others. OUDC is a program that brings African Americans and Jewish students together to explore their history while also working to promote respect. During this past summer, we took a 23-day journey, following the path of the freedom riders. It was one of the most enriching experiences. I met mayors of different cities as well as people who contributed and partiicipated in the civil rights movement. I got a lot out of the journey, and not only did I learn about history, but I also touched it. It was so amazing because it opened my eyes and changed my outlook on life. I now valu emy life more than ever because I know some of the sacrifices that people have made to get me here today.
OUDC is an amazing organization. As a current participant, I can't even begin to describe all that I have learned and gained from this program. We have learned about different cultures and have been challenged to analyze our connections to our own. We have learned about activism, oppression, power, and many other relevant issues. This experience has been invaluable for me.
The experinece of OUDC is impossible to describe with words, but the knowledge and relationships I have gained not only changed my world and my self perception, but will continue to encourage me to change the world.
Throughout the years, my experience in oudc has had an tremendous impact on how I interpret the world. I think more critically about the possiblie perspectives of others and look for empathetic connections.
I have had an amazing experience with Operation Understanding DC. When I joined this program, I did not feel I had that leadership capability. But over the year while I worked with them, I came into my own. What developed my leadership skills most was, as a member of OUDC, I fascilitated discussions on stereotypes, labels, prejudice etc.
being a part of the 9th class of OUDC truly shaped my perspective on the world and has had an influence on my thought process since I was in the program. Looking back, I know my year with OU influenced my education and career choices. I am now studying for a Master's in Social Work with a concentration on Community Organizing and working with minor juvenile offenders in Baltimore City.
Operation Understanding DC remains one of the most formative experiences of my life. I came in hoping to learn more about the history and culture of Black and Jewish people; I came out with meaningful, lifelong friendships and a passion for educating others about issues of identity and discrimination. A lot of the activism I participate in at college I can directly credit to my experience in OUDC. It is an amazing program that teaches you about yourself and your ability to change the world. After spending six months learning about the history and culture of Blacks and Jews with my 31 other Black and Jewish peers, we embarked on an amazing three-week summer journey. Meeting with civil rights leaders of the past and present, and staying up late into the night discussing complex issues of identity, privilege, and power formed unbreakable bonds among the participants and left us forever committed to be active in our communities. As we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of Bloody Sunday, we tossed a pebble over the side and watched as it made ripples that grew and grew. OUDC is like that pebble; touching so many individuals, it continues to create little ripples that will one day grow into waves of change.
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.