Destiny and the Senior Citizens

Visiting North City Congress (NCC) along with my peers was a very informative and exciting experience for me. To be able to host an uninterrupted, casual conversation with my elders about their pasts was intriguing. I was really shocked by the fact that the people I spoke with opened up to me, a complete stranger, about the hardships they encountered in life. Simply by judgment, many of today’s youth believe that the elderly are stubborn and rude, unwilling to waste any more of their time on indulging children and teens’ rambunctious behavior and constant questions. Truthfully, my expectations for our visit to North City Congress were far from kind. I imagined that the conversations would be unbearably awkward (mostly because of my own inability to properly engage in a casual conversation with a stranger without the slightest bit of anxiety) and boring. Despite being told to never embrace stereotypes, I could not bring myself to totally release the lingering thoughts that anyone older than me would immediately state how great my generation has it and how they did not have this or that and still managed to refrain from complaining; all things I have heard before many times.

However, when I arrived at the NCC, the residents there were very welcoming. Once they were informed that our group wanted to interview any willing participants for our upcoming projects, they were all smiles and introductions. Although we were not able to have one-on-one interviews, with a lengthy list of questions in hand, we all gathered around tables and happily organized a quick group session of questions. For approximately three hours, our time quickly flew by as we were drawn decades back into the past by the personal success stories of those around us. For once, I am truly enthusiastic to admit that I was wrong. Not only did the men and women I spoke with offer new insight on the bridge between the past and the present, but they were always very motivational when doing so. After our departure and a quick debrief on the things that each person experienced and encountered during our visit, I realized that there were so many more people that I would have been delighted to learn about. I also realized that our ambitions are not wrongly placed and choosing to pursue making a change in our education systems today was a brilliant idea, though change seems far away. Meeting with the occupants of NCC only aided in furthering my aspiration for the possible growth and improvement of our chosen topic. As William Keitt, a very wise man we were given the pleasure of interviewing, stated, “When you plant a seed, you don’t see the change the same day.”


William Keitt

By: Crystal Wong


On the Thursday of July 10th, 2014; my peers and I from the University Community Collaborative visited North City Congress, a beautiful recreational center dedicated to the senior citizens of Philadelphia and their independence. My personal experience at North City Congress was a positive one, the seniors who we had the privilege to interview about education were all articulate and effervescent in their answers and opinions. One senior who undeniably stood out was a man named William Keitt. I mean, this man could be/should be a motivational speaker. I’d definitely give him a talk show. He stressed his passion for education so vividly. There is always one maverick that stands out, that one in a million, and William Keitt is definitely that individual. I can only aspire to acquire the knowledge and wisdom he attains. Even though he was not educated under the Philadelphia School District, he knew the struggles which current high school students go through times ten. William Keitt was educated in the time right after Brown V. Board of Education (1954, 1955) and still noticed the inequalities of African American students in the south. (Keitt was educated in South Carolina) In the interview, Keitt said quote, “Do not let where you live define you as a person.” and “Don’t let anyone label you, especially if it is a negative label.”

William Keitt has successfully motivated all of his four kids through college and currently has three granddaughters in middle school. He believes parents should be there for their children’s education. “Just tell your kids two things: I’m proud of you and I love you.” He also has made the point, “If you tell a child they are not going to amount to anything, they will not.” Keitt’s approach to education has my utmost respect and adulation.

How Much Progress have we truely made?

My experience at North City Congress was a great one. The seniors there were really welcoming and didn’t mind us interviewing them for our blog. This one man named William Keitt had an amazing story about how life was for him while he attended high school. His story made me look at how good the youth today have it. Today we actually have classrooms and desk and books to write in. Mr. William told my education group that when he was in school everyone had to go outside and do their math problems in the dirt and let the teacher come check it and move on to the next one. My groups main focus is on education and his insight made me think that our education is just a little better than his was, but today it still isn’t that much different. This is just one example if you would like to know more, go further into our blog to see what we have done for the past six weeks and all the great information that we’ve gained.

By: Samira Thrower

Tanika’s Story

My experience at the NCC was interesting. This was my first time visiting the center and I didn’t know what to expect. However,  I loved the stories from the members. Their stories inspired me to do better with my own education. It shows how we have came such a long way in education. I loved and appreciated the fact that they took time out of their day just to talk to us about their school experiences. I can’t wait to go back to hear more stories about how education has changed their lives and mine.

Schools, Then and Now

By Daron

On July 10, 2014 the collaborative group went to NCC center to gather information on gentrification and education. The topic that I was most focused on was education.The people that I talked to during the interview were fun and interesting because they revealed to  me how education was important and how it has changed over the years. I also  learned about how they grew up and where did they got their values and education from as well.One thing that I learned that really stuck with me was when one of the members explained to me that they had to help their parents with education in addition to themselves. I learned a lot from going to the NCC. I really enjoyed this experience and hope to visit them again.

Rickie’s Story

Rickie Bellamy

My experience at North City Congress was great because I got to interview people and get their perspective on education. It was interesting to see what they had to say but the last person the group interview stood out to me. He really got into discussing in full detail because other people just gave yes or no answers. But, if I could i would go again i would.

Yesterday’s Education System




Afiya Dolloway

My experience at North City Congress (NCC) was really good, it was actually better than I expected. When we arrived at NCC my group and I got a brief explanation about what the senior citizens do during a normal day. Also, I was able to have a lot of great interviews with some people, in which they explained to me how their education/ average school days looked when they were my age. One of the seniors that I had the opportunity to interview was William Keitt. He told us that he grew up in South Carolina. He shared his high school experience and even though we have budget cuts and lack of staff, I believe that it was much more difficult during his time in high school. One reason why I came to this conclusion is because first, he had to walk 2 miles just to get to school and second, he had to do his work outside in the dirt instead of using paper. He also said that “education will make you do what you want to do not what others want you to do.” I feel as though he is right because if you don’t have knowledge then a lot of people can take advantage of you. A lot of the seniors that were interviewed said that even back then there were a few budgets cuts. Additionally  the young people of yesterday also said that they didn’t expect education to be the way that it is now. Some of the seniors also said that the reason why the budgets are happening has to do with race and not where you live. That is how my NCC experience was good and what I learned from the seniors.

They Say We Changed

Leilonnie Chase

My experience at North City Congress was AMAZING!!!!! I loved the seniors that I talked to and the stories they had shared with me about their history. From these stories, I learned a lot about how school was taught back in the 1960’s through 80’s. I’m really touched by the fact that I should be grateful for what  I have and have accomplished in life. I also learned how not finishing school did not determine the rest of their life. What I remember most is how they all grew to love their past no matter how hard it was and the fact that they didn’t let anything or any person bring them down, and how they wouldn’t change the path they have taken; with the exception the decision to not finish school. The fact that they left school to work shows me that the care and had to make really tough decisions in their teens years. I hope to go back in the future.


Education is Crucial to the Overall Development of an Individual

By Rickie Bellamy

I choose the education group because I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the topic. I would also like to know how education affects the people in Philadelphia. This topic stood out to me because education affects my daily life, such as me trying to get a job, comprehending things etc. To tell the truth, the topic seemed like it would be engaging. Finally, education helps people build their opinions and have different points of view on things in life. The topic interested me because education is crucial to the overall development of an individual.

Also it was compelling that education makes us capable of interpreting things and use information in real life scenarios.Also education builds character between people. In addition to this it leads to enlightenment through out the nation. Schooling gives us the fundamentals of life. Also I believe that the education needs to get better in Philly, and I would like to find out why schools are closing. Furthermore I want to learn about why Philly doesn’t have a lot of money for schools.

“Education is the Most Powerful Weapon Which You Can Use to Change the World ~ Nelson Mandela

By: Afiya and Tanika

We choose education because in Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission (SRC) continues to cut the schools budget. In addition to this, the SRC closed 23 schools that most kids attend. They do not give clear reasons why they do what they do, they leave that up to us to figure out. They put you in a school with a jail setting and a crowded environment and they expect us students to meet their expectations. Their expectation for all of the students, is to learn everything at the same pace that they want us to. They want us to pass all our classes to graduate and go to college to become successful.

Most schools have less staff and no counselors to help us prepare for college and to prepare us for the real world. All schools have to share a nurse and that can be a problem because if a student needs the nurse, but the nurse isn’t there because they’re at another school. How is this going to help the students? Most students go to a specific school for a certain sport because they want to get a sport scholarship, but they are currently unable to do this because most school have little to no sports.

We want to know if this is going to improve and build back up or if it is going to keep failing and not allow us to have a bright future.