South San Francisco student celebrates ancestry with visit to White House

courtesy photoAndrea Gonzales

South San Francisco High School senior Andrea Gonzales, along with Sojourn to the Past founder Jeff Steinberg, received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on Nov. 2 at the White House. Sojourn is an education program that allows students to retrace the steps of the civil rights movement. For more info, visit www.sojournproject.com.

What was it like visiting the White House? I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first. I’ve obviously never been to the White House, but once we got there I think everything hit me all at once. Like, “Wow, this is actually happening!”

What did you get out of your recent Sojourn to the Past journey? I went through a transformation. Before I went on the trip, I’d always struggled with my identity, as in my ethnicity. I am a mutt … completely. My mom is Puerto Rican, Mexican and Native American and my dad is black and French-Creole. I never knew how to identify myself. I thought I had to accept just one race because I got made fun of a lot in school growing up. But on Sojourn, I realized that diversity is beautiful.

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