This last week I enjoyed getting further acquainted with Oakland. On Friday, we attended First Friday, a street festival that takes place on the first Friday of every month. The streets were crowded with clothing, jewelry, and art vendors. The air was filled by good music and the delicious smells from food trucks. I enjoyed looking at the unique crafts and clothing vendors were selling. On Saturday, I returned to What Now America? to assist in the drop-in program for children living in West Oakland. Language was the overarching theme for this particular Saturday. Volunteers taught children the alphabet in American Sign Language and then assisted the kids in spelling out their name in ASL. Following the afternoon lunch, I enjoyed outdoor time with the children, playing on the playground and jumping rope. What Now America? was a great way to spend my Saturday afternoon. Another highlight of my weekend was walking around Lake Merritt with my roommates. Lake Merritt is located in the heart of Oakland and surrounded by beautiful parkland, neighborhoods, and wildlife. It is historically significant as the United States’ first official wildlife refuge and features grassy shores, several artificial islands, and a fairy tale themed amusement park called Children Fairyland. My Oakland filled weekend was filled with new and exciting adventures, places, and people.
Prior to moving into my apartment, I had been through Oakland on the freeway, never stopping in to explore the city.Notorious for its high crime rate, Oakland is often only talked about in a negative manner. Perhaps this is why I never previously stopped to explore the city. Since arriving in Oakland, my previous stereotypes have dissolved.First Friday, What Now America?, the walking tour of West Oakland, and the walk around Lake Merritt are a few of many gems found in Oakland. I anticipate and am excited for uncovering more Oakland gems in the next six weeks!
Fun fact: Oakland in known as the “Sunny Side of the Bay” because the city averages 280 days of sun a year!