By MinhAn Nguyen, AALEAD Elementary School Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of MinhAn Nguyen, AALEAD Elementary School Program Intern

48 hours! That is the approximate amount of time I have left in Washington D.C. before leaving the capital, the East Coast, and, most importantly, my internship with AALEAD.

My experience working as an Elementary School Program Intern has been amazing! I could not have asked for a better staff to work with. Since Day One, everyone – from the administrative to the on-site staff – has been very welcoming and supportive.  That’s how I knew that I made the right decision to spend the past 11 weeks working with AALEAD!

As for the students, their soaring energy and curiosity reminded me of the reasons why I am passionate about education every day. Aside from learning how to plan lessons and manage the classroom, working with the students has taught me so many things about youth that I was not aware of before.

For example, a box of candy will give you more authority in the classroom than anything else you can think of.  I also learned countless riddles, became a hangman expert, and experienced what it is like to be a kid again!

However, on a more serious note, working with these students and learning about each and every one of them has helped me recognize that these students have the potential to become something great, and I believe AALEAD is instrumental in helping these students get to where they want to be.

Although my internship with AALEAD is coming to an end, the memories with AALEAD and everything that I have learned here will always be with me as I continue on!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” –Henry Miller

AALEAD Blazes the Trails!

By Antwoine Johnson, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

This past Saturday, AALEAD Newport Mill laced up their hiking boots, readied their sig bottles, and prepped their oxygen masks as we hiked up the Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, MD.

The prep started before the actual event, using my culinary skills I created lunch consisting of sandwiches and granola bars which, as you can probably imagined, was pretty tough work but I was able to manage.

The next day, Keo and I drove the AALEADmobile aka the van to Wheaton Metro Station. While there was not the number that was expected, we were greeted by two members of AALEAD Newport Mill, Alex and Sophie, both from the 8th grade. After we did a mild debriefing, Team NEWPORT MILL was off!

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so I will let our photos do the talking about the most epic of adventures that AALEAD has ever  had……….

The Mountain was perilous and unforgiving..........


So we headed out and marched............

And marched.................


Thanks for the memories, NEWPORT MILL!

Message from the ED: A Month of Thanks

As we approach Thanksgiving, all of us at AALEAD have many things for which we are thankful.  I am thankful for many things personally, including being part of this wonderful AALEAD community.  I feel incredibly lucky to spend my days doing work to level the playing field and seeing the impact of that work in our youth.

Thank you to our youth for stepping up to new challenges and getting out of your comfort zones!  I am so inspired seeing you take advantage of new opportunities.

Thank you to our staff for your steadfast commitment to our youth.  I know you all do this work because of your own personal dedication and motivation.

Thank you to our mentors and volunteers for taking time out of your busy lives to develop meaningful relationships with our young people so that they know there is a community that cares for them.

Thank you to all of our donors – individuals, companies, foundations, and government agencies – for sustaining AALEAD’s work and making it possible for us to provide support and opportunities to our youth.

Thank you to our Board of Directors for your incredible commitment to AALEAD youth and for your stewardship of our organization.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


ES AALEADers Tackle a TOP SECRET Mission!

By MinhAn Nguyen, AALEAD Elementary School Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

“What is a mission?” an elementary student at Thomson Elementary School asked me as I handed out the TOP SECRET document. Click here to access the Secret Document!

As Thanksgiving approaches, AALEAD encouraged students to learn more about sharing and giving. We gave students a new identity and mission for this week: to do one kind thing for a classmate.  Prior to handing out the mission, our class discussed the idea of kindness and what it means to be kind to someone. Students suggested ideas such as sharing pencils, making cards, and helping each other with homework. Many of the students were so excited about the project that they wanted to get started on it right away!

We are super excited to see what AALEADERs will come up with by the end of the mission!

In addition to kindness, another focus for AALEADERs this week was to learn to express their emotions. Through activities such as Charades and Taboo, students dramatically acted out emotions for their classmates to guess such as: happiness, nervousness, sadness, anger, and excitement.

By participating in the games, students learned that it is very difficult to know what a person is feeling just by looking at them. Students learned that we should pay close attention to details such as facial expressions and body language and ask questions to know how someone is really feeling.

By Francine Gorres, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

On Saturday, November 16 2013, four AALEAD High School students woke up bright and early to attend the Korean Women’s International Network DC Leadership Seminar for Korean-American Women:”Leadership Serving the Needs of Our Local and Global Community. Throughout the day students were able to listen to the stories of Korean Women and their stories of giving back to the community. From starting NGO’s to public service and leadership, many of the women at the seminar gave powerful messages about giving back to the community.

Our youth were inspired by the words of all of the women at the event and learned about leadership, career paths, and having self-confidence. In addition to the mentoring students received, AALEAD staff encouraged students to learn more about different cultures and to try and find common experiences. Our young men did an excellent job networking, listening, and learned more about some struggles Asian American women face in the workplace. These young people continue to push themselves to be better leaders and AALEAD is so proud of them for actively participating and representing high school youth!

AALEAD at the DC Central Kitchen!

By Antwoine Johnson, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of Melor Suhaimi, AALEAD Staff

This past Monday, Novemeber 11th, AALEAD middle school students and staff took a trip down to DC to volunteer at the DC Central Kitchen.

The DC Central Kitchen is an organization that, among its many other programs, gathers and makes healthy meals, then distributes it to homeless shelters, schools, and other agencies around the DC Metropolitan area. AALEADers met at Wheaton Metro immediately after ending their half day at school, then traveled down to DC Central Kitchen. Students learned more about the purpose and origin of the Kitchen before starting their volunteer shift preparing food in the kitchen.

AALEADers participated in the “great American turkey pull,” as the director put it, where we divided into teams and were given huge trays of baked turkey and chicken. Our job: to pull off every piece of meat those birds had to offer! It was a daunting task and some of us were hungry but we fought temptation and came out on top. Two hours later, we had buckets of shredded turkey and chicken meat ready to be made into delicious meals to be distributed to the community.

We are proud of the 15 AALEADers who came out to help on Monday, and thank them for volunteering their time for an organization that does so much for the DC community. We would also like to thank DC Central Kitchen for giving AALEAD students this opportunity to serve our community and give back. We look forward to bringing more students back to DC Central Kitchen in the future.

Join AALEAD for Giving Tuesday, December 3!

Asian American LEAD (AALEAD) will participate in Giving Tuesday, an annual national effort by individuals, groups, companies and organizations to promote charitable giving, this year! This year’s Giving Tuesday is on December 3, 2013. Mark your calendars!

After the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping craze, consider giving on this special day where people all over the United States AND abroad participate to raise awareness on the good work organizations do in the community and ultimately, raise funds to go towards charities! This is exciting news for AALEAD as we know we have a wonderful community of people in the region who are deeply committed to the mission and work of our organization and youth and are looking for a way to give back.

We have seen the POWER and lasting IMPACT that AALEAD After School, Summer, and Mentoring Programs have had and continue to have on our youth. We have seen AALEADers become more confident in themselves, learn how to build community through team work, acquire new skills and experience new activities.

Please join AALEAD on Giving Tuesday, December 3, 2013 and help us spread the good word AND reach a fundraising goal of $2,500 to go towards our AALEAD After School, Summer and Mentoring Programs serving low-income and underserved Asian American youth!

1. Mark your calendars and encourage your community to do so as well! DECEMBER 3
2. Visit our secure Donation Page and make your contribution (starting at 12:01 a.m.!).
3. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and let everyone know that you are a part of the #GivingTuesday effort and that you supported #AALEAD and #youth! Don’t forget to TAG US!
4. Encourage your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors to join the movement for good!

We hope to see you on Giving Tuesday, friends! Visit our Facebook (Asian American LEAD) and Twitter (@aalead) to stay tuned!

Questions? Please contact Sharon Choi,

By Melor Suhaimi, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

On Wednesday, November 6th in downtown Silver Spring at the Civic Building, 5 Middle School AALEADers attended Montgomery County’s Collaboration Council’s Annual Community Celebration.  For the past two years, the Collaboration Council has graciously asked AALEADers from Loiederman and Argyle Middle Schools to help with serving hors d’oeuvres and to mingle with the attendees.  In return, our youth received community service hours.  Our youth did such a great job!  The 5 students were Fucheng and Jethro from Loiederman Middle School and Sylvia, Calvin, and Vicky from Argyle Middle School. The students had the opportunity to meet community leaders, while learning about and serving delicious snacks to guests.

During the event, Asian American LEAD was even recognized by the Collaboration Council for our youth’s service. AALEAD is thankful to have such a wonderful partnership with Montgomery County’s Collaboration Council! Looking forward to doing this again next year!

First MD AALEAD Halloween Night a Success!

By Keo Xiong, AALEAD Staff
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff

A couple of witches, a cat, Tinkerbell, a football player, Mordecai, Superman, a baby, and twenty MD AALEAD youth joined MD AALEAD for its first spooktacular Halloween night last Thursday. Youth from all seven of our middle and high schools, and even former students now in college, came out to celebrate Halloween, went trick-or-treating, and watched a Halloween family classic, Hocus Pocus.

Students gathered at the MD AALEAD office to finish putting on costumes, paint faces, and meet their peers from other schools. Then, it was time for the fun part: students went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood for candy. For one student who came to the U.S. from China in 2010, this was her very first time participating in the American Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating. For others, like our high school students, this was their first time trick-or-treating since they were in elementary school.

Within only one hour of trick-or-treating, every student returned to the AALEAD office with a heavy bag full of candy, evidence of their high and abundant energy running from house to house. Students then ate dinner (and owl cupcakes!) and settled down to watch a Halloween movie. Many laughs, and even a loud scream, could be heard throughout the room as students watched Hocus Pocus together.

No matter where students come from or how old (or young) they are, everyone had a great time getting to know one another, sharing treats, and spending time with their AALEAD family. This night was a great success and a fun first for an event that will now be held annually.

By Janet, AALEAD DC Student
Photos Courtesy of Janet, AALEAD DC Student

Walking to the Lisner Auditorium from the Metro, anxiously looking around at people and guessing who might potentially be going to the Showcase, and running around while asking questions to my supervisor were all things that I was doing on September 28, 2013. It was Kollaboration DC’s 4th Annual Showcase, and I did not want to miss out.

The previous year I, along with my peers, volunteered for the showcase with AALEAD DC’s Secondary School Program; this year, it was up to us to organize it, and we wanted to make it happen due to so many students’ desires to volunteer for the show. Using the lessons we learned from our experiences volunteering with AALEAD, we e-mailed Kollaboration DC’s Volunteer Supervisor and set up arrangements to have a small group of students from both the Maryland High School Program and the DC High School Program participate.

Organizing this opportunity and the students was definitely difficult, especially since the school year had just begun and school work began to pile on. However, we still managed to organize a group of 8 students to attend the event. Once we arrived at the Auditorium, we were given our assigned jobs, taught the process of ushering guests in, and familiarized ourselves with the venue. 7:00 PM (opening time) finally came, and that’s when all of the people came bustling in. The showcase was amazing; there were so many talented artists within five feet of us! There was definitely a rush due to the adrenaline, and we felt happy and blessed to have been a part of this year’s show. We also got to snag photos with some local celebrities such as SNRG (Some Never Really Get), GOWE (Gifted on the West East), Blush, and even AALEAD’s very own Sharon Choi!