Our daughter gained so much through her time spent with OUDC. It was a life changing experience for her and our family. I would encourage any high school junior to try to connect with this amazing organization.
My daughter was a member of OUDC back in 2001 and is STILL involved as an alumni, helping with interviewing and other special activites. Rachael Feldman at OUDC has done an OUTSTANDING job in introducing youth to opportunities and experiences that otherwise would not be available.
My son participated in OUDC when he was in high school more than 10 years ago, and has remained actively involved with the organization as tour group leader, on the applicant selection committee, etc. I have been a strong supporter of the program for the same time. The intense year-long OUDC program promotes candid interactions leading to true understanding between black and Jewish students, and also between their parents who meet several times on weekends. Respect for the opposite culture is an inevitable result. Following a month-long summer tour to historic Jewish and civil rights sites around the country where the group meets with key participants, during the fall semester pairs of students discuss their experiences at churches, synagogues and mosques. Lifelong friendships develop among members of the OUDC group. It is a life-changing experience. Although the program focuses on promoting understanding between two specific cultures. the lessons learned readily translate to a broad appreciation and respect for other cultures. OUDC is a truly outstanding program in concept and impact.
This program takes youth from different backgrounds and cultural experiences and spends a year both teaching about each other's cultures and having the students learn from each other. During the "Summer Journey" students spend more than 3 weeks travelling to New York and throughout the south visiting places of historical and cultural importance. They also speak with individuals who experienced the civil rights movement first-hand. This program is a life-changer for all those who go through it. Each student leaves the program as an ambassador of more than simply cultural tolerance, but of understanding and appreciation of another's culture.
It's been my pleasure to help support students who participated in this program and then watch them use the lessons learned into the real world. Operation Understanding of the District of Columbaia should be commended for their vision and putting their plan into action to help generations of people learn to respect our differences, understand our differences, and go on to teach others those same valuable lessons.
Operation Understanding DC is a program that has truly changed the lives of my two daughters. Although we raised our children to be accepting of people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, of people who were not as well off as they were, and of those who are physically challenged, OUDC took them so many steps further. It taught them to understand more fully the challenges that African Americans have faced for so long, and in some cases still do, in this country. Even moreso, it gave them the opportunity to develop friendships, and kinships, that will no doubt last a lifetime. It has given them the confidence to go out into the community to facilitate understanding between different racial and ethnic groups. And, it has driven them to grow into other groups that have similar missions. As a result of the profound impact that OUDC has had on my daughters, I have already seen them develop into social leaders in their community and can foresee them doing so much more I could have ever hoped for in fighting discrimination f all kinds, and in fostering respect, understanding and cooperation within their communities. OUDC has come a long way in the fifteen years it has benefitted the DC metropolitan area, and can do so much more as it is able to grow its programs. They have benefitted so much for the wonderful program directors they have had over the years and it would be wonderful to sse the program continue to thrive and grow.
This is a wonderful organization. My daughter participated five years ago and it was a life changing experience for her. The Black and Jewish kids in the program were extraordinary and I have no doubt that OUDC achieved its goal of forging a new understanding and commitment from them that has influenced their work and community leadership. My daughter, for example, learned from OUDC that her activism could matter and she has been involved as a leader on her campus in promoting understanding and civil dialogue about Israel-related issues. OUDC operates on the assumption that individuals change the world - it equips these young people to be agents of change. A great cause.
Self-segregation is common in America, yet it is not a path I want my children to follow. My child's participation in OUDC has opened her mind to these challenges. It has provided her open dialogue with peers and enabled her to develop friendships with people of other races and religions. Experts in the civil rights movement and Jewish history and culture share their insight with these students. They are encouraged to develop their own ideas and share them with their community.
Operation Understanding provides young African American and Jewish high school juniors/seniors with unique and life changing experiences. Their goal is to develop a network of young leaders working to promote values of social justice,understanding,fairness,curiosity about and concern for others. Their programs are thoughtful,intelligently organized. They help the participants begin to challenge assumptions they have held, listen to and respect the perspectives of those who disagree with them and provide them with access to inspiring leaders and social activists or holocaust survivors I have seen the changes in the lives of several young people who have participated in OUDC. They all have a spark to make the world better and tools to go about effecting this.