Think China 2014: From the Deep East to the Far East.

On July 5th, 2014 a group of 14 African American men departed the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) , en route to a 14 day stay in China.
These young men went from Deep East Oakland to the Far East with one goal:

To change the world… and the world’s perspective of them.

Think China 2014
                      The Forbidden City

The young men, five undergraduate students and nine high school students, were accompanied by three chaperones (I was one of them). This method of mentorship was designed by Ms. Regina Jackson, CEO of EOYDC (and a chaperone on the trip as well), as a part of her organization’s Brotherhood Across America- youth led college mentoring model.

The college students, all STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors, were selected in order to provide linked learning opportunities, which would give exposure to career possibilities to the younger men. In addition, the brotherhood mentoring circles were aimed at building strong individual character, as well as the collective group identity– which is EOYDC’s tagline: “building character to build communities”.

Fittingly, the community’s character was a driving force in getting the young men to China.

Sponsored by local businesses, churches and organizations, the group– known as the Think China 2014 delegation, arrived in China with a world of support under their wings.

The voyage was a part of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which was signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year, as a part of the White House’s focus on education. At its heart, the trip was a great opportunity for a cross-cultural exchange, as well as a chance for the young men to develop core values for the White House Education Initiative.

Because of the weight of their responsibilities, the gentlemen were lead through a rigorous schedule of classes and site visits; interspersed with character/ team building activities and fine dinning in China.

Think China 2014
Think China 2014: in the classroom

The young men saw Buddhist Temples in Hangzhou and department stores in Shanghai. They visited the Great Wall of China and the Xixi Wetland nature reserve. They went to automotive plants, made dumplings, learned Mandarin, studied the Chin Dynasty, talked modern politics, and even found time to eat KFC AND Peeking Duck (not at the same time)
… And of course, they drank lots of tea and ate plenty of rice.


All of the young men journaled throughout the course of the trip, as was a requirement. Everyday, a different young man who be held responsible for submitting a journal for publication through EOYDC’s website.

While the young men enjoyed the trip and blogged about it, I stood back and took it all in– through my camera lens… Here are just a few of the many moments I captured while we were in China.




My friend Jesus El: acro-dunker…dancer…on Jerry Springer?

My homeboy Jesus “Zeus” El is a fool… And that’s just the start of the attribute list…

Pen and Zeus
Pen and Zeus

That list also includes: An acro-dunking/ poetry writing/ devout Christian/ world traveling/ proud West Oaklander/ engaged man/ dancer/ community activist/ mentor/ businessman/ family man/ good friend and like I said before…A fool!!!

this train of thought is inspired by his latest video…

In this video, he very possibly trumps his video of walking on the Great Wall of China or his videos of dunking at NBA All Star games. In his most recent video: he makes an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show- and he literally clowns!!!

check the video out:

Jesus has a history of making some eye-opening media. He’s been on the cover of news papers in Asia and Mexico for international acro-dunking, he’s been on television shows such as Ripley’s “Believe it or not” and “The Best Damn Sports show” performing acro-dunking, and not that I’m jealous or anything- but he also has a picture with Beyoncé from dunking at the NBA All Star Game.

We often talk about how a person’s image in media can travel so far- while the individual can still feel confined to the place their mission started.

We’ve come a long way since first meeting in 7th grade. But two things have been consistent: his connection to Oakland, and his lack of connection to the earth- because he’s always flying off of trampolines!

We’ve come together to produce a number of videos, here are some notable 1’s…

First and foremost, here is a video from the belly of the “Hyphy Movement”. E-40’s record release party in Emeryville. This video put a lot of things on the map- including elephants going dumb …Check out the Video

And since we’re on the topic of dancing… Here is a video of one of the many turf- dancing battles we used to attend:

here is another 1 of Jesus Dancing (I didn’t make this 1- I just think its dope)

Video of  Zeus turf- dancing in Asian outfit:

And for some reason- the Oakland A’s Mascot “Stomper” dances a lot like my home boy in this clip from the mid- summer classic All Star Game in New York July 2008. hmmmm… too bad we’ll never know Stomper’s true identity (wink-wink)  Check out this video of B-Boy Stomper

We even came together to make a documentary, in which he talks about everything from acro-dunking to manhood and how everything in-between is interconnected… here is a clip from the documentary titled “He Dumb in The Air” :

There is an endless list of entertaining videos of this young man- (for more checkout his youtube page: 21Seus) each with an aura of entertainment and education, sprinkled with a sample of strong spirituality. It’s funny, we always talk about how someone’s image can travel through the media, yet that person might feel as though they haven’t gone anywhere. Looking at these videos- I can see how just how far he has come. I can see how far I have  come. The only thing I can’t see… is how much further we can go…

We have a saying: … a little something to remind us that the sky is the limit- and when we get to that height- we will have created something that will last forever…

“Meet me at the top of the pyramid bruh.”