SPEAKER 1: My first
time out of California was this Jamaica trip. Getting submerged inside the
jungle to see your own people and seeing what
that life is about. SPEAKER 2: We took a car ride
heading up into the mountains. As we near the community,
you can actually hear horns in the distance. We had no idea what this was. The leader of the community
told us the moment we hit that mountain heading
toward the Maroon community, they were communicating
with each other, letting them know
that we are coming. There was another horn to let
people know, come to the center and greet us. It was a beautiful thing. SPEAKER 3: The Maroon
community as a whole were so welcoming and full of love. They took all of
us in as their own, like we didn’t come
from different places. Like yeah, I felt so at home. It was just nice to pick
through eating natural things. Food wasn’t processed. I felt good. My skin cleared up
when I was out there, and I just felt spiritually,
and emotionally, intellectually, and physically cleansed. SPEAKER 4: They taught
students from 9 AM until 1 PM, and then the Maroon community
taught us from 1 PM until 5 PM. So they had very full rich days. SPEAKER 5: We’re learning from
the people and from the land as they’re learning
from us, so it’s like we’re both instructors
and students at the same time. SPEAKER 2: Watching our students
interact with their students was a really powerful
thing to see. SPEAKER 5: They’re more
spiritual than religious, so we can get a little personal. My mother passed. We left to Jamaica three days
after or something like that. They’re letting me know about
different ways of finding that inner peace of what you
feel like is missing when you’re 22 years old and
your backbone has just been taken from you. You don’t know how
to deal with that. You don’t know how
to listen to that. You don’t really want to hear
any other outside advice, so you have to find
your inner advice. SPEAKER 3: They
mostly taught me, they’re very intelligent, like
near and dear to my heart, that we were going to help
the community out there. SPEAKER 4: Students select– along with the faculty– a social issue impacting
the community here, anything from around
environmental issues, educational issues,
hunger, housing. Students volunteer in a
community justice organization here to learn more
about that social issue and what the community
is doing to address it. And when they go to Jamaica,
they do the same thing, with the community,
supporting their efforts to address that issue. SPEAKER 1: A lot of
African-Americans don’t really know what
it is to be Jamaican or what it is to be a Maroon. SPEAKER 2: You have an
autonomous community within Jamaica. Even though there
were treaties that were signed many years ago, you
know, they fight politically for what they have. That impacts individuals. I wanted our students
to see that perspective, coming from our world into
a completely different environment. Some of the things that we fight
so hard to have the material things that we have
to make us happy, they don’t have
those things there. But their children were
fed, they were welcoming, and we all felt like
we were in our home. SPEAKER 5: Everyone in
Jamaica is of color, and it’s a good experience
to see different people, but of the same essence,
the same background, they have the same culture. They see you from what you
have, or what you don’t have, not by the skin tone. It was a good chance to
get away from what we often call it the norm, because we
normalize tragedy or traumas. When you open your door, you
see a lot of violence, crime, and negativity. When you’re never been outside
of San Francisco or Sacramento, you don’t dream about
going out of the country. You don’t have hopes
and dreams of that. Your hope and dream is to
make it to the next day and to live to 21. And once you here, you’re
going outside of the country or leaving your
comfort zone, it’s easy to shy away
and be like, nah, the spotlight is too big for me. I can’t do it. And so that was big
as an accomplishment. SPEAKER 4: We focused on
students who have never had a passport, have never
been able to leave the country, and lo and behold,
many of our students have actually never been
able to leave Oakland. All students who have
engaged our programs were able to see this
impacts the trajectory of their educational
career, and important to us, their sense
of identity and who they are in terms of the
world, that your space is not limited to here. Your space is
actually everywhere. SPEAKER 3: It made me a better
like young woman, coming back. And like my mom even
seeing a difference. It wasn’t just a trip to me. It was me getting
to know myself. It changed my life. I don’t know if you can see
the expression on my face. Like, just go. Like, just go. [MUSIC PLAYING]