Early in 1980, while still a student at Adelphi University, Bert applied to volunteer with Operation Crossroads Africa, a US-based, non-governmental agency that, “sponsors cross-cultural exchanges and small-scale service projects in Africa.” His first time out of the U.S. and the personal significance as as a Black American to travel to Africa specifically, as well as an opportunity to earn academic credit for an independent study, the trip would serve multiple purposes. It would be a life-altering sojourn that expanded his vision of the world and his place in it. He wrote about his experience here, which also foreshadows his aspirations of becoming a teacher.
Receiving his acceptance letter in March set in motion a robust checklist of must-do’s related to Adelphi coursework, medical requirements, and an ambitious goal to raise $2,000 toward his trip.1980C06-acceptance-letter-participant-payment-agreement-form
Originally destined for Tanzania, at the last minute he was reassigned and spent six weeks on a community development/construction project in Kapsara, Kenya.
Tucked away in one of his storage boxes were a couple dozen negatives, (6 cm x 6 cm, shot in 120 film or “medium format”), together with three faded printed photos, one of which, fortunately, bore the Kodak logo and the date-stamp of August 1980, confirming that these uncaptioned images were taken by Bert on this, his first trip to Africa.
Bert wrote that he was one of ten participants — “3 black American women, 2 white American women, 2 black American men and 3 white American men.” This crew is most likely interspersed with native Kenyans in the images below. If you, or someone you know, joined Bert in Kapsara, we’d love to hear your stories and/or photos of Bert to include here.