By Bhadon Shalakin & Tina Ngo, Mentoring Program Intern & Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Interns & Staff

This past Saturday, the Asian American LEAD (AALEAD) Mentoring Program held our 2nd Annual Mentoring Program Scavenger Hunt. Mentors and mentees were first invited to a potluck where there was a variety of food ranging from Subway sandwiches to pasta salads and sweet and colorful cupcakes. Unfortunately, there was a 50/50 chance that we would have to cancel the event due to inclement weather. Luckily for us, there was no rain, and the scavenger hunt was on! After all of the mentoring pairs had the chance to chow down and meet with other pairs in the program, it was time for the main event. The pairs were all split into teams of four, and off they were! The scavenger hunt had officially begun.

All of the groups were tasked with figuring out the answers to nine different clues within one hour. They would then have to take pictures or videos near the locations involving those clues to explain or demonstrate different aspects of AALEAD’s three outcomes: leadership, identity, and educational empowerment. Since the teams had the option of choosing which clues to start with first, some groups began their search around Meridian Hill Park while others immediately ran to the U Street Corridor.

At the end of the hour, all of the teams rushed back to the AALEAD DC office to see which group would reign supreme. All of the pairs relaxed and mingled as team by team went inside the conference room to discuss their findings with the judges, Bhadon and Tina. After a suspenseful 15 minutes, it was finally time to announce the victors! As the champions stepped up to claim their prizes, everyone found out that they were all winners. No one left empty-handed as the scavenger hunt was a victory for everyone; we all made new friendships and bonded over our shared commonalities and interests.

Events like the scavenger hunt are a wonderful opportunity to not only make new friends, but also learn a lot about ourselves and our community along the way. Sprinkled with lots of fun, laughter, and cheer, the 2nd Annual Mentoring Program Scavenger Hunt was truly a success! Many thanks to all of the mentors and mentees who participated as well as Heein, our Development and Communications Intern, who helped us document the entire event. We hope you all had a blast and can’t wait to see what else this summer has in store for us! See you soon!

By Bhadon Shalakin, Mentoring Program Intern
Photo Courtesy of Bhadon Shalakin, Mentoring Program Intern

Hi, my name is Bhadon Shalakin, and I am the Mentoring Program Intern this summer. I am currently heading into my freshman year of college at the University of Kentucky. I have been a part of AALEAD for 5 years as a student, but this is my first summer being an intern. I am looking forward to helping Tina teach students about leadership and community involvement as well as give advice on their transitions into middle or high school. While I have already taught some of these students before, I will also be meeting some of them for the first time, and I am excited to work with all of them this summer!

Interesting facts about myself: I was originally born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and moved to Washington, DC when I was only 1.5 years old. I enjoyed watching almost every sport and also play soccer and football frequently. Some of my other hobbies are to cook and read.

I know this summer will be a great opportunity to grow and develop as an advocate for the community. I especially look forward to gaining more hands-on experience while teaching a diverse group of students and think this is an awesome way to spend my last summer with AALEAD.

**Learn more about our other Summer 2014 Interns here: AlexDavidHeein, and Laura!**

By My Nguyen, AALEAD Staff
Photo Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

As part of the DC MD/HS Summer Program, students are focusing on career explorations and this past Monday, students were able to get a glimpse into the life of an Astronaut through the Space Sensation Demonstration held at the largest Smithsonian Museum which is the National Air and Space Museum. Upon arriving at the museum, students were greeted by an array of aeronautical collection from various decades including the 118 feet full size replica of the Skylab Space Station which is United States first space station that launched on May 14, 1973. Students were then escorted to the exhibition room called “How things Fly” Gallery, an interactive gallery that explains the basic principles of air and space through hands on activities.

As part of the Space Sensation Demonstration group, AALEADERs were introduced to the International Space Station model. At the demonstration, students were able to learn more about the International Station or ISS by asking their own questions. Some of the questions posed by our students during the demonstration included, “How old is the space station?” “How big is the space station?”, “What do astronauts do on the space station?” Students were amazed to learn that the Space Station is only 16 years old and that astronauts have only been living in in it since 2000. Another interesting fact they learned was that pieces were gradually added to the Space Station over time by NASA and its world partners and that the finishing touches was only completed in 2011.

Our field trip to the National Air and Space Museum allowed students to have a better understanding of what it takes to become an astronaut and even sparked an interest for a few students to explore this career path. For students to be able to discover new interests in something that they have never envisioned they would enjoy is an important step in the identification process of youth development. Hopefully, this experience will propel them to continue to explore everything that surrounds them.

By Alex Neeley, DC Elementary School Program Intern
Photo Courtesy of Alex Neeley, DC Elementary School Program Intern

Hello! My name is Alex Neeley, and I will be interning with the DC Elementary School Program this summer. I am currently going into my junior year at the University of Washington in Seattle where I am pursuing a degree in International Studies. I am also a 2012 graduate of Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Washington, DC.

In the past, I have worked with elementary school children at the Smithsonian Summer Camp. Additionally, I have worked with high school students through the University of Washington Dream Project, a program that helps low-­income high school juniors and seniors from Seattle apply for college and post-secondary school careers. Through AALEAD, I am looking to continue my work with children, while providing support and guidance for my fellow DC Public School (DCPS) students. I am excited for this summer and look forward to working with everyone at AALEAD!

**Learn more about our other Summer 2014 Interns here: Bhadon, David, Heein, and Laura!**

HS Youth Prepare for Summer Kinect!

By Francine Gorres, AALEAD Staff
Photos& Video Courtesy of AALEAD Staff and Students

Last week, AALEAD High School students ventured into nature and spent two nights and three days at Maple Tree Campgrounds.  As part of their leadership training for MD Summer Program’s Summer Kinect, high school youth created new bonds, reflected on their leadership styles, and learned more about mental health, nutrition, and fitness. No one really imagined what kind of adventure was in store for the next few days.

From the minute the bus pulled up, students were full of excitement, anticipation, and jumped right into the helping spirit. Students worked together to pile sleeping bags, duffle bags, and pillows into the under carriage of the bus and we were on our way to the forest.  When we arrived to the camp grounds, students peered into the wooden cabins and quickly claimed their bunks. The high school boys stuck together and collectively decided to tent outside with Antwoine, one of our MD Middle School Program Coordinators. The high school boys quickly bonded as they raced the sunset to put up their tents.

Throughout the week, students continued to build on their relationships with one another and with staff. Staff and students made breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it seemed as if everyone had a small role in our AALEAD family. Some of the greatest moments we shared were during free time. Students set up a volleyball net, tossed the football and frisbee and showed off some of their athletic abilities. The most popular activity of the weekend was playing UNO, especially ones surrounded by flashlights and lanterns with staff.

While the camping trip was full of fun, it was also a time for our high school youth to plan activities for middle school youth this summer. Our High School youth will be challenged to become better role models, leaders, and examples for their younger peers and there’s no other way than to learn to do it together. The camping trip helped students to break out of their shells and was a great way to bring students together. Today, high school youth will bring this positive energy to their middle school peers  and begin a journey of self-discovery, team-work, and hopefully a new found passion for helping others. BRING ON THE SUMMER!

By Laura Ma, DC Elementary School Program Intern
Photo Courtesy of Laura Ma, DC Elementary School Program Intern

Hello! My name is Laura Ma, and I am very excited to be in Washington DC this summer working as one of AALEAD’s DC Elementary School Program Interns. I am originally from Elkton, MD and am a rising senior at the University of Delaware, where I am pursuing a dual degree in East Asian Studies and Interpersonal Communications with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. My interest in AALEAD comes from my interest in Asian culture, intercultural communications, and teaching. This past spring semester, I lived and studied Chinese in Shanghai while additionally teaching fourth grade English at a migrant school. I look forward to using the skills from that experience here in DC through community and youth development at Thomson Elementary School.

Here are other fun facts about myself: I am second generation Honduran and Chinese and have a love for food from all cultures. Although I am not great at cooking, I love eating and socializing. My favorite television shows include, but are definitely not limited to: Modern Family, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards. During my free time, I like to play tennis and volleyball. Traveling is another hobby of mine which I hope to continue after graduation as I am currently applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan.

I am very excited to begin this internship because I know I will be learning and cultivating my own skills while helping students and contributing to AALEAD.

**Learn more about our other Summer 2014 Interns here: AlexBhadonDavid, and Heein!**

June has been a month of transition from after-school programs to summer!  This time of year is always very busy for staff but exciting for youth.

AALEAD staff saw our youth finish elementary school, get promoted from 8th grade to high school, and graduate from high school!  We also celebrated the end of AALEAD after-school with several parties and a barbeque.

As we geared up for summer, we have welcomed a wonderful new group of interns.  You can read about some of them on our blog now, with more posts to come!

Summer Kinect in Montgomery County has just begun with nearly 100 youth.  This is our largest summer program in Maryland to date!  Thank you to our funders for making this possible!

DC programs begin next week also with nearly 100 youth!

You can read about all the happenings at AALEAD with new updates posted on our website every few days.  Enjoy the summer!


Volunteer Voices: Rhea’s Story

By Rhea Montante, Former AALEAD Volunteer
Photos Courtesy of Sharon Choi, AALEAD Staff

Asian American LEAD’s (AALEAD) Volunteer Program consists of energetic and enthusiastic individuals who dedicate varying amounts of time to our youth and organization. While some of our volunteers  meet with our students on a weekly basis during programs, others help out with some of the administrative work and behind-the-scenes responsibilities. As our school-year programs come to a close, we are so thankful for Rhea and all of our volunteers who have truly made a positive, lasting impact on our youth this year. Please enjoy Rhea’s story, and thank you again to all of our volunteers for all that you do! We truly appreciate you and can’t wait to see what this summer has in store for all of us! -Tina, Mentoring & Volunteer Program Coordinator

Three weeks ago, I started my first day volunteering with AALEAD. I think in any situation where you’re thrown into a new environment in which you’re not the most familiar with, the first day can be filled with lots of uneasiness. However, on my first day at the AALEAD office, I was welcomed quite warmly, and those first day jitters seemed to dissipate quickly. I was immediately introduced to all of the AALEAD staff, and I knew that this was going to be a great experience working with such awesome people.

Over the next three weeks, I helped out at the office and at AALEAD’s wonderful DC Elementary School Program. From learning more about the administrative side of the organization to interacting with the kids themselves, I learned a lot throughout my time here. I especially had a great time working with all of the youth! Before I volunteered with AALEAD, a career working with students never even crossed my mind, but the hands-on experience I received throughout my short stay definitely opened my eyes. These three weeks passed by so quickly, and it saddens me that I was only able to volunteer for such a short amount of time. I want to say thanks to the entire staff for being such great and marvelous people. Thank you AALEAD for being such an extraordinary organization!

By David Ma, MD Programs Intern
Photo Courtesy of David Ma, MD Programs Intern

Hello, everybody! My name is David Ma, and I am a summer intern for the MD Summer Kinect Program. I am entering my sophomore year at Montgomery College-Rockville this fall and plan to pursue a career in the field of business/accounting. I am a super friendly person, so youth, please don’t be afraid to approach me! I am also very outgoing and not afraid of trying new things. Basketball and writing poems are my favorite things to do. One of the most important things to know about me is that I love food. I think that food is a basic need that everyone needs every day, so all meals should be enjoyed to the fullest.

As an AALEAD alumnus, I have worked with AALEAD youth for the past two summers and had a wonderful experience both times, so I decided to enjoy another summer with the AALEAD family… except as an intern this time around! I think that it will be challenging learning how to balance my roles as a former student and current intern, but I am excited to develop stronger relationships with AALEAD staff and volunteers. I am also looking forward to learning as much as I can and building more career skills and experiences surrounding youth work, education, and nutrition this summer.

**Learn more about our other Summer 2014 Interns here: AlexBhadonHeein, and Laura!**

By Heein Choi, Development & Communications Intern
Photo Courtesy of Heein Choi, Development & Communications Intern

Hey everyone! My name is Heein Choi, and I am from Ellicott City, Maryland. I recently finished my first year at the College of William and Mary and intend to double major in Asian American Studies and Business. Over the summer of 2014, I will be serving as Asian American LEAD’s (AALEAD) Development and Communications Intern. Growing up in an Asian American community, I have been searching for methods to give back to the people that have placed the groundwork for me to succeed.

Hearing the stories of AALEAD students reminded me of my own experience of immigrating from South Korea at the age of five. When I first came to the United States, I struggled to establish my identity as an American. Although I had not been born in the United States, I felt every bit as American as my peers and wrestled with the question: what could I do to become fully American? When I pondered about these types of questions at a young age, I wished I had an organization like AALEAD to support me. With AALEAD’s mentoring and after-school programs set out to guide and nurture Asian American youth, these students know that they are not alone in these internal struggles.

I believe that AALEAD’s goal of serving Asian American youth coincides with my passions. At the College of William and Mary, I currently serve on the Executive Board of the Asian American Student Initiative (AASI), which is a grassroots team that is focused on spreading awareness of Asian Americans on campus. AASI reaches out to the students of William and Mary with innovative photo campaigns such as “Faces of Asian Americans.”

I am excited for the new experiences, people, and youth I will be meeting as an intern at AALEAD. Most of all, I am thrilled to know that I will be in an environment where my passion and dedication will be matched by every staff member.

**Learn more about our other Summer 2014 Interns here: AlexBhadonDavid, and Laura!**