First Edition: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless – “Our Oakland” Then and Now

By: Raynetta Van, Sophomore 

The “Our Oakland” Project was a fun and challenging experience for me. The project is still fresh in my mind because I did it last year as a high school freshman. It was fun for the most part because I learned a lot about my topic, which was trash. My group interviewed people in Downtown Oakland. I learned that most people usually pick up after other people and try to make Oakland look nice. It wasn’t hard for me to go up to people and interview them because I’m not shy. I actually really loved the interview process because I’m very outgoing and I have good communication skills. However, it was also a hard experience because a lot of people wouldn’t stop to talk to us; it was hard getting information when people weren’t talking to us. But overall, it was a very fun experience.

I interviewed Kathleen Fong, class of 2015, to better understand her experience with the “Our Oakland” Project.

Question 1: What was your group’s topic? What interesting research information did you find on your topic?

Answer: My group’s topic was gangs; we found out that there are a lot of more Caucasian people in gangs than any other races.

Question 2: How was your experience interviewing people?

Answer: It was scary at first because I’m shy, and I didn’t know any of them.

Question 3: What was the most challenging part of this project and why?

Answer: The most challenging part of this project was finding people to interview because I got rejected many times, I was behind, and I was really frustrated.

Question 4: What did you learn from the “Our Oakland” Project?

Answer: I learned that there was more violence in Oakland than I thought.

Question 5: How do you think we can reduce the poverty and violence in Oakland, after doing this project?

Answer: Well, people don’t listen. So, I don’t know if they can make a change but the people who do can come together.

In conclusion, the “Our Oakland” project is an amazing project that I was fortunate enough to be able to do. This year’s project is the same from last year. They had all the same topics and went to the same places. This year freshman’s also had the opportunity to do the project, and from interviewing Kathleen, I feel like some teenagers understand Oakland a little better. They realize that Oakland has the potential to come together as one, if we all get on the same page. They now realize if they want change, they have to CREATE it.

Edited By: Eva Oliver, Digital Journalism Teacher

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