Although the US is a culturally diverse nation, I have learned that many know very little about cultures outside of their own. As an immigrant myself, I have dealt with stereotypes and prejudices against my heritage culture due to lack of meaningful interaction and understanding of Africans beyond poverty and suffering. Yet I have also had the privilege to help dismantle some of these false misconceptions among my non-African friends through interactions based on honest conversation and inquiry. This has shown me the need for cross cultural interface in addressing the misconceptions Americans and Africans have of each other and it has inspired me to spend this summer in Uganda as an amateur ambassador helping to connect these two worlds, through a program called Operation Crossroads Africa.
Operation Crossroads Africa (OCA) is both a cross-cultural and volunteer program, specifically focused on building bridges of friendship and understanding between North Americans and Africans. The program sends students in the US to various African countries i.e. Ghana and Tanzania to learn about the customs and culture of the people in a small community and to partner with the local youth to implement a service project aimed at addressing the community's needs.
As a participant in OCA, I will be:
~In Uganda for 7 weeks, getting know the people of my destination country/community and learning about their cultures, values, and customs as well as teaching them about American culture and customs in the process
~Partnering with the youth of the village through a local nonprofit on a community development/service project for 6 weeks (details soon to come).
The projects this year consist of:
Education: teaching math and English to the local primary school.
Construction: building/construction such as a water pump that the whole village can use, significantly decreasing the time and distance for access to water.
Agriculture: planting seedlings, digging irrigation ditches, to help the local farmers increase crop yields and better manage their land and tending/harvesting crops for and with local villagers and youth groups.
Women's Empowerment/Entrepreneurship: working with local women entrepreneurs on income generation and diversifying their means to income.
Although, OCA ultimately assigns participants a project, I applied to work with women entrepreneurs and will most likely be assigned to this project.
~Traveling for 1 week across my destination country, visiting major sites of attraction and cultural significance with my team.
Participating in OCA poses great challenges; there is the challenge of traveling internationally for the first time on my own, of living and working together with students from various backgrounds, and of course the challenge of being immersed in an unfamiliar culture.
Yet OCA offers as much benefits as it does challenges.
1. Exercising global citizenship through immersing myself in a new community, eating the food, learning a bit of the language, and many other aspects of the culture.
2. The opportunity to connect what I have been learning in the lecture hall to the outside world with hands on exposure to international service practice.
3. Experience working with a team of diverse individuals in implementing a service project and seeing it come to fruition.
4. Sharing the knowledge and experiences I gain abroad both on campus and in my community to increase awareness about the diversity and complexity of the cultures and people present in Africa and how we as Americans can better effectively support growth and development in Africa.
The cost of participating in the program is $3800, however this is remarkably inclusive as it covers:
· International airfare and in-country transportation to and from the project site
· Housing and accommodation
All for 7 weeks!
Currently I am saving money from work and applying for travel scholarships to help cover the costs. In addition I am contacting academic departments on campus and community organizations for sponsorship and additional support. That being said, raising the money is a formidable challenge that can surely be overcome with your help!
Ways to help:
· Donate whatever amount you feel comfortable with. My fundraising deadline is April 20th 2015!
· Please share this campaign on social media and other platforms with your friends, family, and others who would be interested in providing support.
· Have any FUNdraising ideas? Let me know of any creative and effective ways to fundraise.
Thank you for consideration and generosity and for taking the time to read this! I leave you with motto of Operation Crossroads Africa that I look forward to being fulfilled this summer:
“Make a difference for others, see the difference in yourself.”
Operation Crossroads Africa
- Callie Woods
- Emma Lee
- Ingrid C
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