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Reflections on a Week in the Tenderloin

Alt Breaks participants reflecting with Faithful Fools on their immersion experience

We are genuinely grateful to the Faithful Fools for providing our group the opportunity to fully emerge into this neighborhood. Our previous thoughts and myths we have all heard about the Tenderloin were all shattered as we saw a different side of the neighborhood and the community. Through the Faithful Fool's mission, we learned the empowerment of forming connections through individual interactions and the roles that exchanges play in building community.

Cynthia Roldan: I'll admit I did have a negative perception based on what my friend told me. By the end of our trip, not only was I humbled by my false beliefs, but I was inspired by the work of the Faithful Fools. Through their advocacy, Faithful Fools empowers their community as a whole.

Jacob Jin: In the Tenderloin Museum, there was a quote that says, "Any city that doesn't have a Tenderloin isn't a city at all." After this week-long alternative break, I can now say that I have begun to understand and appreciate this quote. So I will now carry on with my life with this valuable experience and start to see the world in a different way.

Emily Crofoot: Community can be cultivated anywhere. By the end of a single week in the Tenderloin, we felt integrated into the community, both impacted by it and being able to leave our marks. Walking along the streets of Hyde, Turk, and Taylor, the faces and voices grew familiar and, more than recognizable, personal as we shared meals and conversations.

Rachel Georgian: Working with the Fools over the past year and participating in the immersion experience has been a life-changing experience. I have learned so much about what it takes to make sustainable change and how I can show up as an effective leader in the world.

Alt Breaks and intentional community building: helping, learning & reflecting with TLCBD Safe Passage, ABADA-Capoeira & Faithful Fools

Ashley Wang: From this experience, I will carry my ability to spread compassion for the houseless and my new knowledge of different factors that may affect one’s housing situation. The Tenderloin isn't quite like any other community; it's a melting pot full of life, from the children playing in the parks to the elderly's table tennis rallies to the gatherers along the sidewalks there’s never a dull moment and I hope to help others realize it’s a lively neighborhood apart from the widespread misconceptions.

Anjali George: Before our time in the Tenderloin, I almost felt a sense of apprehension, a hesitation to enter this community that wasn't my own, and a fear that an immersive experience like this would do more for me than for the community. I was quickly relieved to find these worries were unfounded. If anything, I've learned from our week in the Tenderloin how truly effective an immersive learning experience is compared to one of solely acts of service or charity. Getting to know residents, hearing their stories, engaging in acts of community, forming those connections, and building community is essential to any form of substantial social change.


UC Berkeley’s Alternative Breaks program offers service-learning trips for students to explore a social justice issue through hands-on service supplemented with education and reflection. Faithful Fools served as one of the community partner hosts for Spring 2022.

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