Castlemont High Students Prepare for Trip to Vietn...

Castlemont High Students Prepare for Trip to Vietnam and Cambodia


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Shown are social studies teacher Jonathan Guy (top row, second from right) and stShown are social studies teacher Jonathan Guy (top row, second from right) and students who belong to the Pacific Bridge Club at Castlemont High School. Students are wearing cancer awareness T-shirts.



Everyone loves a field trip; museums take on new appeal to those who might not visit them otherwise; historical sights and trips to City Council meetings are very attractive to most students and often have a lasting impact on students.

Castlemont High School Economics and Government teacher Jonathan Guy is push­ing this kind of hands-on ex­perience to a higher level with his effort to take 35 students to Vietnam and Cambodia for two weeks after a similar suc­cessful trip last spring to China with a group of 16 boys.

Students chose these loca­tions after studying a map of Asia and the Middle East.

Guy himself has lived in China and speaks Mandarin, at about a “6th or 7th grade lev­el,” he says.

His wife has family in Cam­bodia. He first developed an interest in China when taking a Chinese history class while attending Cal State East Bay. He began teaching Western Culture in Beijing at the Anhue University College of Eco­nomics, spending three years there before returning to the Bay Area.

After taking a job in the Oakland Unified School Dis­trict, the idea came to him to take students abroad to a place he knew well. But beyond that, Guy said, he felt students need­ed more than just a chance to travel.

“When I was growing up (in Pittsburgh), I had role models,” but some of his friends, whose fathers were absent, died vio­lently or wound up incarcerat­ed, he said. “I felt that students needed to step up their game. What better way to do that than having an experience abroad?”

With that in mind, he created the Pacific Bridge Club, (PBC) to “use community events, cul­ture building, and traveling as avenues (to allow) our youth to have a foreign experience of traveling to developing coun­tries so that they can return with a different outlook on life to improve their lives and our communities,” according to the group’s mission statement.

After the trip to China last spring (2018), he saw almost every one of the students who went on that trip change in pos­itive ways. Guy said he saw a certain wisdom emerge.

To participate in the club, students must maintain a minimum standard of behav­ior throughout their classes; including no more than three detentions in one semester, re­maining on track to graduate and maintaining a minimum 2.0 average, as well as refrain­ing from oppressive language and attending meetings.

The meetings begin with a setting of the norms, around respect, attitude and focus; as students read each one aloud. The day this reporter met with them, almost all were wearing their pink cancer awareness Tshirts that are part of the work of the PBC; to each month raise awareness about a different so­cial issue or cause.

The overseas trip is the cul­mination of a nearly year-long program of discussion, com­munity engagement projects and mandatory meeting at­tendance every Tuesday and Thursday.

Students must demonstrate they can work together. Since beginning in August, students have worked on raising aware­ness for sickle cell anemia, po­lice brutality and cancer.

Some of the young people have never been on an airplane or out of the U.S.

On the trip last school year, students were chaperoned by other staff, including Assistant Principal Michael Scott, Digi­tal Arts teacher Nathan Burks and Restorative Justice coordi­nator Frankie Navarro.

Students were encouraged to be on their best behavior. They were asked: “Who are you representing?” How does it reflect on your family?”

Angela, a senior at CHS, said her main reason for want­ing to be part of PBC is because I think it’s important for young people to be a part of something bigger themselves, and helping other people.”

Another girl, Monday, also a senior, said, “I’m a new student at Castlemont; before I came here, I was getting in a lot of conflict and trouble; Mr. Guy told me about the opportunity, what they do and why and how they do it…It just really inspired me to do something positive with my life.”

Senior JP (John Paul) mentioned both the China trip and a subsequent trip to visit family in the Philippines.  “I came back with a deep sense of humility,” he said, referring to where his grandmother lives not far from homeless encampments of entire families.

Senior Rufino, who went on the China trip noted that his travels “changed my perspective on how people act; respect is seen differently in different cultures, it made me think about things, treating people with more respect.”

For more information or to support the upcoming trip of Castlemont High School students to Cambodia and Vietnam, go to Pacific Bridge Club or Mr. Guy’s Classroom


  1. Jonathan Guy

    4 January

    If you have any questions or would like to donate, please reach out to or We’re $7,000 away from our target and we could use your support. Thanks Jonathan Guy!

  2. Donald Macleay

    7 January

    This seems like an inspired project and I am sure that it will be very positive for,the students who get to take the trip.

    That said, I know that many Oakland youth have never been to one of our state or national parks or visited our neighbors in Mexico.

    I also wonder how many students participate? Less than a hundred? We have thousands of students and we need better field trips than going to Chabot or Asian Arts again. Spectacular visits to far away places are great, but I feel that the overwhelming majority of Oakland Students are underserved, and now is a good time to make that point.

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