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WHYs Up!

WHYs Up!

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
October 20, 2010

WHYs Up! is a blog created by 25 high school students from East Oakland, California. For one month, the students explored different neighborhoods in Oakland and the Bay Area in an attempt to understand their own community better. They began the inquiry by asking questions about their community:

Why are people afraid of Oakland? Is it really better in other neighborhoods, such as Berkeley and San Francisco? What do people in other Bay Area neighborhoods think of Oakland?

The students followed up by traveling the city armed with digital cameras and research skills; they interviewed strangers, took notes and photos, and wrote about the experience on their blog.

Topics of research included safety, health and accessibility, economics, aesthetics, food, and diversity. The students and their two teachers took day-trips to eight different communities in the Bay Area: the suburban cities of Walnut Creek and Alameda; The Castro neighborhood of San Francisco across the bay; and the Oakland neighborhoods of Rockridge, Lakeshore, Fruitvale, Old Oakland, and Oakland Chinatown.

Student Voices
The blog posts provide a window into the students’ explorations of their community and themselves as they question societal expectations and stereotypes. The students’ revelations are profound, and their voices are powerful reminders of the value of authentic learning experiences.

From the post Rockridge: Food by Olivia, Juven, Vanessa R., and Jackie P.

The prices were sometimes more than $10 per person, and if people there think that this is reasonable, then people have more money than people in our neighborhood.

From the post Fruitvale: Diversity by Daniela, Laura, Yesenia, and Brian

Our opinion of diversity actually changed. Before, we assumed it was diverse because most of the people weren’t white. But when we really took a look around the area, we saw that the majority were Hispanics, and that’s not diverse. 

Hear more student voices at the WHYs Up! blog.

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