Every year we organize a field trip to San Francisco with International Business students from Artevelde University College. In these pages I will try to highlight why we do this. You might think it is obvious that University Colleges do this. In a way it is. San Francisco has so much to offer, it got everything, right. The beaches, the ocean, the nature, the bustling business, the hip culture, from the Beat generation to Mondo 2000; not that our students are aware that there is so much culture. It all happened before they were born. And most of them think we go there because of Silicon Valley, to a certain extend it is of course one of the purposes, but as an organizer I want to bring more. San Francisco is so much more than that and has its own set of problems because of that. Enjoy the ride.
When we are in San Francisco with students we stay in The Tenderloin. Why would we do that? First of all, it is inexpensive and they have a very nice Hostel there. The HI City Center Hostel. It is centrally located, everything is in walking distance. As you may know or not know, San Francisco has a lot of homeless people, they are a bit spread in San Francisco, but lots of them are located at The Tenderloin in Ellis street around the corner of Larkin. As I'm a regular visitor of San Francisco I'm not surprised nor alarmed by the homeless anymore because they are always there, but for the students it is big shock. To put it in Trump words, they think it is a hellhole :-). But after staying there for a while, their ideas and thinking is changing. If this happens I think the goal of the trip is already half a success. The neighborhood let students think about their own environment in their own country, the bad, the good and the ugly.
The Tenderloin is the underbelly of San Francisco, and nobody wants to live there, but mark my words in 10 years from now, it will be gentrified like the other neighborhoods in San Francisco. Things are slowly changing, whether it is for better or worse is another discussion. Because during the gentrification, the homeless people will need another location to stay, where will they go and who will take care of them. At the moment The Tenderloin offers a lot of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels where people with less means can stay. In addition, there are a lot of social organisations helping out for these people as well. And of course there is Glide which is one of the main organisations that helps people to get a second change.
So far the experience of the 2017 edition, see you at another Spark moment, a storytelling tool of Adobe.