Fifth Edition: “Our Oakland” — Connecting with the Community

By: Zeida Lopez, Senior 

My experience with the “Our Oakland” Project was really stressful. I was a very quiet student. I didn’t talk much because I don’t talk to people very easily. I’m very reserved. My topic was about Alcoholism. I chose that topic because I knew more people I could interview. My group went to Jack London to interview people there. I was very nervous because I was shy and didn’t have good communication skills. Once I started interviewing people, I started getting better when I was asking them questions. The hardest part for me was doing the statistics because I have never done well with math. Therefore, I had a very hard time doing the math part of the poster. When it was time to present, I was shy and not prepared so I just read all of the poster board. It was very stressful because my group didn’t communicate things at all. It was very dysfunctional most of the time. I was glad I had done my part and had done everything I could to finish the poster.

Every 9th grader has to do the “Our Oakland” project. I interviewed Stephanie R. The first question I asked her was, “What was your topic and what’s interesting about it?” She said, “My topic was gangs and what was interesting was that I have a lot of family that is in gangs and I wanted to know more about the history”.

The second question was, “How did you decide on whom to interview?” She replied, “I just saw people’s face and kind of thought to myself if they knew anything about gangs”.

My third question was, “How was your experience interviewing people on the street?” She answered, “It was like talking to any other person. I can easily go up to people and start talking to them. I’m not shy so it was easy for me.”

After that, I asked her, “What was the most challenging part of the project and why?” She answered, “I think the most challenging part was gathering everything and putting it together on paper. The essay was the hardest.”

The last question was, “What did you learn from the Our Oakland project?” She explained, “What I learned was that a lot of people [who] live in Oakland don’t know all the different gangs clicks there [are]. There’s a major gang, but it’s made of several groups that have different names”.

The “Our Oakland” project is kind of different every year. When I did that project the topics were different. This year I feel like the students have more things to talk about because as the years go by Oakland gets more and more dangerous. My impression of this year’s “Our Oakland” project is that the freshmen had more personal connections with the topics.

Edited By: Eva Oliver, Digital Journalism Teacher

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