Eighth Edition: “Our Oakland” — Something Every Freshman Should Do

By: Iliana Gomez, Senior 

“Our Oakland” is a project that all freshmen students at Life Academy do. I did it my freshman year, 2008-2009. I was in a group of four people. The topics that year were violence, alcoholism, smoking and a couple of others that I don’t really remember. When I did the “Our Oakland” project, I didn’t like it very much. I had the topic alcoholism in Oakland. Even though I didn’t enjoy the project, I did learn a lot of stuff. We got to interview people and see what they thought about alcoholism. I got to go to Jack London Square to interview people. I thought it was a pretty cool experience because it helped me to come out of my shell and to become a more open person. I remember I was really shy and nervous to interview people because I didn’t know how the people were going to react to a stranger talking to them. But, it actually went well, and I got over my fear. I think the “Our Oakland” is a good project because it helps students to be less shy, to learn from others, and to see things in different ways.

To learn more about this year’s “Our Oakland” project, I interview a freshman in my advisory, Jorge. Our interview is below:

Question #1: What was your topic? What did you find interesting?

Answer #1: My topic was economy. What was interesting was the different perspectives the people had about Oakland.

Question #2: What preparation did you receive prior to Our Oakland project?

Answer #2: We read Our America and Twilight to understand the format of the poems for interviews and how they are supposed to sound. There were other preparations like learning the different levels of questions.

Question #3: How did you come up with the interview questionnaire?

Answer #3: Well, we had to [create our questions] on based upon our topic and also the level one, two, and three questions. Like for example, an easy question (level one question) would be, “Do you know about the economy?” If they said “no,” then we would say thank you for your time. Then, we would leave [and find someone else to interview would do know something about the economy].

Question #4: How was your experience interviewing people?

Answer #4: I was a bit nervous because I am shy, and I didn’t know the people so I didn’t know what their response was going to be like.

Question #5: What was the most challenging part of this project? Why?

Answer #5: The most challenging part of this project was choosing the interviews to do because we didn’t have a lot of good interviews.

Question #6: What did you learn through the “Our Oakland” project?

Answer #6: I learned about the economy and about the true feeling of others and how they feel about Oakland. The most common answers were, some people didn’t know about the economy. They would just say economy was bad, and people had to pay more attention.

This year’s “Our Oakland” project seemed a little different than back when I was a freshman. But, it is very similar too. They had different topics than us, but they still read the same books that we read. They also interviewed people, but not in all of the same places that we did. I was really impressed by the interviews because a lot of people didn’t know about the economy. It seems like everyone always learns something from this “Our Oakland” project, and it should be something the freshmen do every year.

Edited By: Eva Oliver, Digital Journalism Teacher

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