By David Oh, AALEAD Development & Communications Intern
Photo by David Oh, AALEAD Development & Communications Intern

Hey everyone!  My name is David Oh and I am AALEAD’s Development & Communications Intern for Spring 2014.  I am currently a Senior at the University of Maryland, College Park pursuing a degree in Public Health.  I am looking to expand my experience in the Public Health field and I thought AALEAD was a great opportunity to do so.  I thought it would be a great opportunity because they serve youth in the Asian American community and I really enjoy working with kids and the Asian American community.

Summer Youth Retreat. The top left is me.

In addition, here are some fun facts about myself.  First,  I have never traveled outside of the country since I was 5.  I would really like to visit South Korea within the next year or so to visit relatives and eat.  Also, I am a big sports person.  I really enjoy playing different sports such as basketball and football.  But one of the more interesting things is that I like to eat.  I like to travel to different places with my friends and try places that are known for a certain food specialty.

I am looking forward to this internship opportunity.  I hope that it would be a very fruitful experience in which I would be able to grow as well as contribute to AALEAD.

Happy 2014!  I hope the New Year has started off well for all of you.  And happy National Mentoring Month!

All of us at AALEAD enjoyed a rejuvenating holiday break and have returned excited and energized for the year ahead.  It’s been great to kick-off the New Year celebrating National Mentoring Month and our incredible mentors.  We have 60 adults who have been trained as mentors and who work one-on-one with one of our youth – having fun, guiding, and helping with school and college prep.  With spending at least 6 hours a month with their mentees, this amounts to well over 4,000 volunteer hours each year!  If you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to watch the beautiful video our Mentoring & Volunteer Coordinator, Tina, made with our youth thanking their mentors.  And if you are interested in becoming a mentor, please reach out to Tina!

As you may know, the next AALEAD community event coming up soon is our 15th Annual Dinner!  We are very proud to be approaching this milestone and will be celebrating AALEAD’s past, present, and future on March 26.  I hope you can join us!

By Francine Gorres, AALEAD Staff
Photo Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

During this time of the year students return back to school after a long break and prepare for one their most favorite things…..EXAMS.  If you can remember back to when you were in college or high school..we spent many hours studying and writing papers and it was a very stressful time of the year.  AALEAD was able to meet with High School students last week before exams and provided different lessons to help students as they prepared for exams.

Students learned about how yoga helps to stretch and energize the body in addition to helping the body relax through deep breathing exercises.  Students also learned about the benefits of making juice filled with vegetables and fruits. We made different smoothies out of spinach, apples, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, and other “brain food” ingredients! Students were amazed that it tasted delicious and how fast and easy it was to make with a blender or Nutribullet! It was a great first week back and we are looking forward to meeting with students next week!

By Tina Ngo, AALEAD Staff
Video Courtesy of Tina Ngo, AALEAD Staff

One of the best things about the beginning of a brand new year is coming up with goals and resolutions for the future, but also remembering all of the achievements that were accomplished during the previous year and recognizing those who helped you along the way.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, AALEAD celebrates all of our amazing mentors and their commitment to and impact on our youth. To date, we currently have 55 pairs matched across both DC and Maryland. Though some of our pairs have just begun their journeys and others have been matched for a record amount of time, we are so grateful for the opportunity to witness and be a part of each mentee-mentor pair’s growth together. Our Mentors have all played a pivotal role in the personal and educational development of our youth, and we appreciate their kindness and willingness to give back to the AALEAD community with all of our hearts.

Today is Thank Your Mentor Day, and we couldn’t think of a better way to share our thanks than by letting you hear and see what some of our very special Mentees had to say about their awesome Mentors themselves. Check it out, and Happy National Mentoring Month!

*Though this video only highlights some of the students involved in AALEAD’s Mentoring Program, all of our Mentees are extremely thankful for their Mentors and all of the wonderful experiences that they have shared together.

Volunteer Voices: Vinh’s Story

By Vinh Tran, Current AALEAD Volunteer
Photos Courtesy of Tina Ngo & Micah Shearer, AALEAD Staff

The AALEAD Volunteer Program consists of committed and enthusiastic individuals who spend one to two days out of their week helping our after school programs staff manage classroom behavior, teaching lessons, and spending time with our youth. To kick off National Mentoring Month, we would like to recognize our amazing volunteers who not only dedicate their time to our students, but also serve as wonderful mentors and positive role models as well. To our fantastic volunteers, thank you so much for all that you do! We are grateful for you and continue to be inspired by your passion, creativity, and energy every day. Please enjoy Vinh’s story, and Happy National Mentoring Month! -Tina, Mentoring & Volunteer Program Coordinator

From my point of view, everything in the United States was new and extremely different from my country, Vietnam. I wanted to learn everything I could about Americans – not only for my own knowledge, but also, so that I could begin to have meaningful interactions in my new home – which is a feeling I think many of the AALEAD students I’ve worked with can relate to. Additionally, I am especially interested in education, and I love working with kids. Those are some of the reasons why I became a volunteer for AALEAD.

AALEADers are really smart, well-behaved, and eager to learn. I love the environment that AALEAD creates, which definitely encourages me to come back and volunteer every week. The most memorable experience I have had so far was the first time I had a chance to teach the students on my own. I was really excited to be able to step into a teacher’s shoes, even if it was only for one day. Though it was just a simple art lesson, it was wonderful teaching the students how to draw out their own ideas and make their own creations.

Through volunteering for AALEAD, I have gained some very important teaching skills, which are helpful for me because I want to become a teacher in the future. In particular, I learned how to be flexible with unpredictable situations, work in a team with the other teachers, and how to plan engaging lessons. I also had the opportunity to be a kid again by learning how to play with the students and help them develop their own unique abilities.

Working with everyone in AALEAD has been an amazing experience. The teachers are friendly and helpful, and I am thankful for the opportunity to volunteer with such a great organization.

By Melor Suhaimi, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

If I had to choose two words to describe this past Saturday’s MD MS Youth Council meeting, it would be productivity and leadership. The meeting was the second of the school year and the first of 2014! There was a lot on the agenda and the MD MS Youth Council jumped right in: giving feedback, sharing new ideas, and taking ownership as leaders of AALEAD’s Middle School student body.

With Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Day coming up next week, youth brainstormed ways of how AALEAD youth could give back to the community.  Many ideas were shared: youth can bring gently-used, good quality clothes for a clothing drive to bringing toiletries to organize and pack for homeless shelters, as we did two years ago for MLK Day.  However at the end of the discussion, the Youth Council decided that bringing non-perishable, canned goods would be the best idea for all Middle Schools to participate in.  All five Middle Schools will be asked by their Youth Council to bring canned goods from now until the first week of February.  The canned goods will then be organized and delivered to a local non-profit, Manna Food Center.

Two upcoming projects were also in the agenda and the Youth Council were very excited to give feedback for both.  A Youth Media project is in the works, in collaboration with AALEAD’s High School youth.  And even though Fiesta Asia (an annual Asian American festival in DC) takes place over the Summer, the Youth Council began the planning stages of the event.  The thinking tank continued on when each Youth Council Committee broke into their groups to brainstorm icebreakers to present to their schools from now until the end of February.  Youth demonstrated leadership qualities in this past Saturday’s meeting and by working together, the MD MS Youth Council accomplished many things!

Last Updated:  March 5, 2014

We are so excited for an evening of networking and celebrating AALEAD’s accomplishments. Guests will kick off the night with a networking reception  (hors d’oeuvres provided by Hollywood East Cafe), hear stories and testimonies from speakers, and then mingle with some of the DC Metropolitan area’s top community, business and government leaders while enjoying dinner by Szechuan Delight. We are also happy to announce that our host this year will be Ms. Kathy Park from ABC7/News Channel 8! Check out some highlights from previous dinners here.

Directions | For travel instructions and a map of the Civic Building, please click HERE.
GPS address: 8525 Fenton Street, Silver Spring, MD, 20910.

Parking | Please park in the Town Square Garage, which is located directly across the building. The garage will be free as our event starts after 6 p.m.


ONLINE Donation Page. Please indicate you are purchasing a ticket/table for this event.
CHECK Written out to “Asian American LEAD” and sent to 2100 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009.

Individual Ticket: $125
Former AALEAD Staff/Alumni: $50
Table of Ten: $1,000 (or $100 per person)
Click here for Sponsorship Packages

Contact: Sharon Choi, Development & Communications Manager
(202) 884-0322 x 104

Celebrating Community with DC AALEAD

By Micah Shearer, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of Sophie Zhao, AALEAD Volunteer

As we all begin to return to our post-holiday routines, have a quick look back at how our DC AALEADers celebrated the holiday season!

Just before winter break, our DC students, along with with parents, family, AALEAD staff, and some of our amazing volunteers and mentors gathered together for food, fun, crafts, and to take a moment to reflect on the amazing community we build together.

Students started off the celebrations with some finger foods and then dove into crafty holiday activities, facilitated by some great volunteers – including several of our Middle School mentees.

Next it was time to gather around for an adorable performance of Jingle Bell Rock by our pre-kindergarten through second grade students led by one of their AALEAD teachers, Ms. Nadiah. We then turned our attention to the screen for two videos – one each from our Thomson and Bancroft programs – both with lots of holiday well-wishes.

One of my favorite things about our Annual Holiday Party is seeing all of our AALEADers gathering together in one space – the community that is built between students, volunteers, staff, and families is truly precious to see.

All too soon, it was time to wrap up the celebration, but as students said goodbye, each received a holiday gift – made possible by some amazing community sponsors. A tremendous THANK YOU to NBC4, Deloitte’s Asian Business Resource Group, and the DC Mayor’s Office of Pacific Islander Affairs, who collectively made it possible to provide a gift for each of our students.

Happy Holidays from AALEAD!

By Keo Xiong, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

Over 130 AALEADers and their families, mentors, board member, and staff celebrated the season’s holidays this past Friday at the Holiday Park Senior Center. As some of our afterschool programs wrapped up for the year last week, the gathering of family, friends, food, and fun at the holiday party was a perfect way to end the year strong and joyous.

Members of the middle school and high school youth councils had begun planning for the holiday party in November, deciding on the theme and decorations. The week leading up to the party, AALEADers enthusiastically created decorations, including 3-D snowflakes, a large tree, paper ornaments, and beautiful posters and banners. At the event, these youths were in charge of hanging up the decorations, and went above and beyond to create a festive room and mood just right for the celebration.

After set-up and staff introductions, families and youth were invited to enjoy a meal before settling down to watch the skills and abilities of AALEADers who performed in a talent showcase, emceed by high school students Jessa and Ram. The talents on the stage that night were phenomenal; ukuleles, a violin, K-Pop dances, and soulful vocals filled the room with delight, smiles, and cheers from every corner of the room.

In a humorous dance-off competition following the talent showcase, AALEAD youth showed off their dancing abilities for prizes. Known as “back-dancing,” this dancing game requires students to pair up, stand back-to-back, and invent dance moves inspired by funny, awkward, and strange situations, such as slipping on ice, being chased by bears, and acting as zombies. Our very own Middle School Program intern and alumus, Romano, participated as well. It was great to see the youth enjoying themselves and having fun with peers from all across the Maryland program.

During this activity, Sunny, our Parent Coordinator, held a meeting for the parents and guardians of the youth. Sunny shared program highlights from the past four months of programming, talked about the resources we have, and provided a space for the parents and guardians to meet one another.

This year’s holiday party was a success and we look forward to more events next year where we can bring together the youth, their families, mentors, and supporters to celebrate the achievements and talents of AALEADers.

Before signing off, some “thank yous” are in order. First and foremost, thank you AALEAD youth for the fun and joy you bring to AALEAD, for your hard work, participation in, and dedication to the program, your fellow AALEADers, and staff. Thank you to the families of AALEAD youth for attending and celebrating with us. To mentors, you are an invaluable part of the program and we thank you for joining us and your mentees at the event. For the delicious food, we thank Red Maple, Chicken Basket, Blue Pearl Buffet, Giant, Costco, and Noodles and Co. for their kind and generous donations. And finally, thank you to the great staff at AALEAD for organizing another successful holiday party, and the board members who help make this all possible.

Happy Holidays from AALEAD!

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season thus far! December is always a busy time, but it is a great time of year at AALEAD. I love getting the chance to celebrate with our youth. This year, I helped middle school youth at Newport Mill make decorations for their holiday party, celebrated with our elementary school AALEADers at the DC Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs Holiday Party, and celebrated with our Maryland middle and high school youth at the party they helped to plan. At all of these events, it was wonderful to spend time with our young people, as well as their parents, and it is always great to see our mentors and Board members! I’m looking forward to continuing the celebration with DC programs this week.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2014!

Best wishes,


Great to see AALEAD families

Catching up with a mentor and a Board member