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Goodbyes from Masoora!

Hi, I am Masoora (an Atlas corps fellow from Pakistan).  I had worked with Asian American Lead as Girls Leadership Program Coordinator in Washington DC. Today when it’s my last day, it just seems like a dream and I am really sad that I won’t be here physically but I will be certainly here in spirit. I am really blessed to spend all this time with AALEAD staff and students which welcomed me and accepted me in their extended family. I cannot express my gratitude for everything that they have done for me.  AALEAD is indeed one of the best organizations and the way they support students here through different program is just amazing. I have seen students grow and take leadership roles in their schools and community which has motivated me enough to replicate this model in Pakistan.

It has been a year and four months of my fellowship with Asian American Lead and just wondering that time did fly in my case as it just seems like yesterday when I joined AALEAD in September 2009. I remember the initial months in AALEAD when I had no idea of after school programs, youth culture in US, how to build relationships with the high school students and at times when I got over whelmed, I used to think whether I would be able to contribute or complete my one year with AALEAD. But here you go I not only completed one year but extended for four more months.

There have been a lot of good moments be it program time with the students, chats with the staff during lunches, discussions with colleagues, attending other programs at different sites of AALEAD, enjoying different events or playing games with the students, working with the interns and volunteers, extensive summer programs or team meetings etc, I have learnt so much from everyone around and enjoyed my time fully.

I wish AALEAD the very best and look forward to hear great news in future. Below is the link for a short video on my experiences and work with AALEAD.

Hope to meet you all sometime again in life otherwise facebook is a very effective tool to be connected especially if its that far like Pakistan!

AALEAD started its Girls leadership program as a pilot project in October 2009 developed by Masoora Ali (an Atlas Corps fellow from Pakistan). The overall objective of the program was to empower the young Asian American females in the area of Washington DC. In order to build and strengthen their leadership skills, we engaged them in various positive activities like workshops on Self esteem, confidence and awareness, inviting different guest speakers and role models from the community, focus group discussions on different gender issues, field trips to different organizations and universities etc. AALEAD provided a safe and healthy environment to the young students so that they can feel comfortable in sharing their issues.

AALEAD invited different stakeholders including students and volunteers to be a part of the celebrations and reflections on December 8th 2010. While celebrating the successes, there were also reflections on different challenges, areas for improvement and future direction of the program.

Below are some of the comments from the students on how the program had an impact on them:

“Girls Leadership program helpedme to learn a lot by meeting new people ” by a student in grade 7th

“I have become more vocal” by a high school student.

“It helped me open up more and prepared me with my speech” another high school student

“We learnt to be more confident about ourselves” by two students in grade 9th

I have realized the importance of team building through different games.

I learnt how to be more social. I still have a way to go but it was a step forward.

The program has been a lot of fun where we had girls time and we could discuss about various problems openly.

“The field trip to Boston motivated me to start applying for the colleges in time” by a high school student

Furthermore,  AALEAD staff also thanked the volunteers, interns and different guest speakers who had contributed a lot  from time to time beacuse the program might not had that much impact without their support.

Field trip to Boston

AALEAD was able to organize a field trip to Boston this year again on October 15th 2010. A group of six female high school students were selected on the basis of their applications to be able to participate in one of the Boston’s biggest Asian American Women’s Leadership Conference. The theme for this year’s conference was to “Discover the Leader within. The conference had many female role models and speakers, who shared about their experiences on how they were able to discover themselves through new inspirations and experiences which allowed for change in their lives.


After the conference, we took a quick tour of Boston University and went to see Quincy Market, located in the heart of downtown Boston.

Watching Blue Man Group was also one of the amazing experiences for the students. They were quite impressed with the creativity and fun after watching the show.

The next day, we had a short tour of Boston on the way to Harvard University. Thanks to Jana Christian (AALEAD’s summer 08 intern), who showed the students around Harvard University on Sunday morning.  Over all, the students had a great time and they were able to learn a great deal from the field trip.

Below are some of the comments from the students.

“It was great to meet new people during the conference” by a student in 9th grade.

“Experiencing college life by visiting Boston and Harvard University was awesome”. Another high school student

“I really liked the session on Public speaking and I am not that nervous to talk in front of people anymore.” 10th grade student.

“One of my favorite parts was to eat brunch at the dining hall of Boston University on Sunday.”

Thanks to KPMG for their donations which made it possible for AALEAD to organize this experience for the high school students.

AALEAD summer 2010 Newsletter

AALEAD had a fantastic summer program, few months ago. We have developed a newsletter with the help of our students, interns and staff .

The Newsletter includes information from all the programs like middle & high school in Maryland and what elementary and high School programs did in DC. It  includes few reflections from our students and interns along with many colorful pictures from different activities.

Click here to view our summer newsletter. ENJOY!

AALEAD Summer Blow Out 2010!

For students, waking up at 8am to make it to Columbia Heights had been routine for the past 6 weeks.  Time had flashed forward and the day had come to mark the end of their summer journey. They woke up that  Friday morning bright and early thinking that today was like any day but they quickly realized that they did not have to race out of bed just to catch the metro. Their bodies’ had memorized these morning rituals but today they didn’t have to be anywhere till 4pm.

As the day progressed students met up with one another to discuss what their attire for the day would be. They talked about the fun things that they were able to do and all the new people they were able to meet.  As 4pm drew near, students began to arrive at the AALEAD community center eager to help set up and to meet with their friends for that last day of the AALEAD Summer Program.

The evening began with speeches from staff members and acknowledging students who help contribute to the planning process. Students showcased a variety of talents. Some students danced, others sang an original song, and one presented a poetry piece.  In a surprise move, the Maryland High School students presents Don Kim and Jessica Chang with gifts to thank them for all their hard work. Students were saddened to hear that both these amazing role models would be moving on. The room fell silent as Patrick Ardivilla thanked Don Kim for being his mentor. It was in this moment that the room fell into deep reflection. Rarely do we reflect on the times when we make a big impact on each others’ lives. As we look around the room we can recall various memories associated with each face. We celebrate this achievement of coming together and learning treat each other like family. Let us remember all the great times we had here at AALEAD!

Eun Yang, NBC 4 speaks to SSP students

Unlike many other Washington, DC-ians who have to wake up at the crack of dawn to see Eun Yang, the NBC news reporter, the DC High School students were able to hear from her on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon.

Eun Yang sharing her story to HS students

Students were bewildered and amazed to hear that Ms. Yang wakes up at odd hours of the morning to be able to deliver the news, and try and balance her family life. They were inspired to hear her passion for journalism, and how that took her to where she is today. Ms. Yang shared her struggles in balancing family and work and encouraged the students to acknowledge the sacrifices that need to be made to reach your goal.

The DC High School students pose in a picture with Eun Yang!

Following her talk, students asked insightful questions that sparked some discussions. Questions from students ranged from how did you get your job to how is it to be an Asian-American woman in the field to if she had hair and makeup artists at her disposal (she does not) to what the realities were as a someone famous and in the spotlight. Students appreciated her insight, helpful answers, and positive advice.

We hope to see you again, Ms. Yang, but for now we’ll watch NBC4!

Visiting Kaboom and meeting with Roopal

Girls Leadership Program organized a field trip to Kaboom on May 26th 2010, where the students got a chance to meet Roopal as an Asian American female professional and also to know about Kaboom which is a national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds.

Roopal gave an introductory tour of the office and explained about Kaboom to the students. They liked the environment of the office which was very colorful and refreshing.Later on, they heard from Roopal about her professional background and her experiences.

Thanking Roopal for her time and having the girl s at Kaboom!

On May 20th 2010, we (AALEAD Girls Leadership Program) spent the Thursday afternoon at a Karaoke bar in Virginia . We had a very fun crazy afternoon where we enjoyed singing our heart and soul out. There was a variety of songs including hip hop, ballads, rap. We even tried singing in Korean but could not complete it. While singing, we also had snacks and enjoyed eating Kimbap, Dok bokki.

Afterwards we went to a Korean café named Shilla and we had a chance to taste two Korean desserts one of which was PatBing Su.

This will be an unforgettable experience and we all hope to do it again. Kamsamnida AALEAD!!!!!! (Thank You in Korean)
By GLP Students

AALEAD had three wonderful interns from Korea this year and one of them was Jieun, who gave a presentation on Korea and its culture to the students in Girls leadership Progra

She started with an Ice breaker based on the song by Wonder Girls (Wonder girls is a South Korean girl group, which began their entry into the American market in 2009, with lead single “Nobody”; the single became the first song by a Korean group to enter the Billboard Hot 100).

The presentation was very informative and all the students showed great interest in it as it covered the basic information about Korea, its culture and about the youth there. After the presentation, we had different questions from the students about the country, drama and food, especially they were surprised to know that an average Korean student spends more time in studies as compared to an American student.

We also played baskin robbins 31. It is a Korean game where you start out by singing, “baskinnn robbins 31- so going in the circle, each person counting either 1, 2, or 3 numbers. So you keep counting until you get to 31, which is what you DO NOT WANT TO SAY, because then you get a punishment.

Over all, It was great to learn about Korea from Jieun and also er experiences in US as an international student.

Girls Leadership program offered community service at Thomson elementary school in DC from April 2010. Every Tuesday, students from middle and high school go to the elementary school and help the students in Grade I-II for their homework, in reading story books, making things from paper etc.

One of the students facilitated an arts activity where the elementary school students learn how to carve their names on a paper with crayon colors. Students also played different games with them where they were actively involved and every one enjoyed it.

It has been an exciting experience for the high school students where they had enjoyed while earning their community service hours. And more than that they had been happy about serving and giving back to the community.