Operation Understanding - Philadelphia
OU annually selects twenty-four outstanding Philadelphia,PA high school juniors (12 African American, and 12 Jewish) from diverse backgrounds and provides them with a series of shared experiences. The first phase-orientation-begins shortly after the students are selected. The objective of this phase is to build a foundation of knowledge regarding African-American culture, Jewish/Jewish American culture, and the history of African-American and Jewish relations. The second phase--summer travel-- consists of splitting our students into two groups of 12 students (each group containing 6 African Americans and 6 Jewish students) that travel for 3 weeks to New York City and throughout the Southern United States. This journey exposes the students to places of significance to both African-Americans and Jews, and educates them about the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the alliance between African-Americans and Jews during that era. During the third phase of the program, which takes place during the students' senior year in high school, the students take what they have learned together to educate others. It begins with a "Leadership Retreat" designed to further develop the student's public speaking and group facilitation skills. Afterwards, the students spend their senior year speaking at schools, churches, synagogues and other community groups to talk about their OU experiences and to facilitate discussions about the dangers of stereotyping, and the benefits of trying to reach out to, understand and respect people who may seem different from yourself.