Tag Archive: Summer Programs

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

This past weekend, both our DC and MD mentors and mentees participated in a potluck and scavenger hunt at Meridian Hill Park. It was a gorgeous day filled with clear blue skies, and our mentoring pairs were ready to chow down on some delicious food and exercise their critical thinking skills during the hunt. From homemade yakisoba to crispy fried chicken and an array of fresh fruits, the dishes our mentoring pairs shared were super tasty and bursting with flavor. Not only did our meal span the colors of the rainbow, but the energy that the students displayed filled the park with a special kind of vibrancy as well.

After the pairs had the chance to fill their bellies and meet their fellow mentoring pairs, it was time to begin the scavenger hunt! DC AALEADers were paired with MD AALEADers in teams of four and then asked to take photos with statues, tell silly jokes, and demonstrate their creativity through a variety of tasks. As the students ran through the terraces of Meridian Hill Park and explored the historical area of the U Street Corridor with their mentors, lots of laughter, cheers, and encouragement could be heard throughout the course of the activity.

By participating in the scavenger hunt, our mentees not only learned about the importance of teamwork and how to rely on their team members’ strengths, but also, how to take the lead and share one’s knowledge with others. As the event came to an end, DC AALEADers reflected on how much they learned about their community and the neighborhood surrounding the AALEAD Community Center, while MD AALEADers enthusiastically expressed how fun it was to learn more about some of the landmarks and history in DC. These conversations highlight the significance of exposing our youth to new experiences, but also, remembering to have fun along the way as well.

Special shout out to all of the mentors and mentees who joined us at the potluck and scavenger hunt! We truly enjoyed seeing you all and are so happy that we were able to share such a beautiful day with such great company. Thanks so much, and can’t wait to see everyone again soon!

An Extraordinary 5 Weeks with AALEAD

By Julie Kwong, AALEAD Elementary School Summer Program Teaching Assistant
Photos Courtesy of Julie Kwong

I didn’t know what to expect when I accepted the Teaching Assistant position for AALEAD’s Summer Elementary School Program. I heard so many great things from returning staff about the students during training week, but all of the tips that were given and all of the experiences that were shared ended up entering one ear, lingering for a bit, and then shooting out the other; in order to really understand what was being said, I had to be in the moment and a part of that experience. Now, almost five weeks later, I can say that I finally understand those moments and have even collected some stories and advice of my own to share.

If I could only share one thing that I have learned, it would be this: these kids are like presents: full of surprises. The first thing I noticed when I met these kids was their adorableness. They are the epitome of cuteness, excitement, and happiness all contained in a miniature-size hyper package. However, beneath this outer shell, they also have so many untapped talents, ideas, and dreams. Jonathan, in the beginning a very talkative kid, adjusted his behavior in recent weeks, thoughtfully completing assignments and paying attention in class without repeatedly being asked to do so. On the first day, he half-heartedly fulfilled the dream assignment, declaring that he will be a billionaire in the future with a great mansion and pricey car. Recently, in our mini class talent show, he patiently taught the class how to dribble a basketball through their legs. He told us that he enjoyed basketball because he was inspired by his brother to play and improve. Unlike his far-fetched (but, still possible!) dream in the first week, he admitted that to be a great basketball player, he would have to dedicate a lot of time and hard work. He’s up for the challenge, but also understands that not everyone can just join the NBA. This and countless other similar stories have surfaced among my students in the past month. Setting high expectations and truly believing in the potential of these kids are the only ways to avoid the side effects of these inevitable first impressions and presumptions.

I am without a doubt reluctant to wrap up my time with these students. I will miss each one of their smiling faces and unbounded mouths that endlessly spill brilliant thoughts and ideas. I will miss seeing their eager faces during reading time, watching their hands wave vigorously in the air to answer a question, and sharing laughs at their witty remarks. Most of all, I will miss discovering their priceless surprises and helping them see what I see in them: great potential and a bright future with endless possibilities.

By Karen Yee, AALEAD DC Secondary School Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD

Students have an ambitious agenda planned for this summer. July 26 marks the beginning of Asian American LEAD’s (AALEAD) 2nd Annual Asian Pacific American Youth Summit, and DC and MD students are busy planning for it every Monday up until the very start of the event. Youth also have an amazing opportunity to plan, shoot, and edit their own three to five minute video that will be submitted to the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Students are also hard at work coming up with new ideas and prepping new lessons plans for the elementary school students.

While students are hard at work with planning the Youth Summit and everything else, they are also learning about various subjects like Asian American history, yoga and creative writing. Pictured above, students are rhetorically analyzing various advertisements and learning how organizations and businesses use ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade their audience. The Rhetorical Analysis workshop kicks off the series of Presentation Workshops that will happen on most Wednesdays and will end with a 10-minute presentation presented by students about a topic they are passionate about.

Next week, students get to attend the OCA Convention to get a better grasp of how to increase cross-cultural communication and to hone their leadership skills. As it is the second week of the DC program, there are only three more weeks until the Youth Summit and five more weeks until the video showing!

Stay tuned for more info!

AALEAD Digital Connectors: What a Summer!

After a fun and work filled summer, AALEAD’s Digital Connectors program held its graduation ceremony at the end of August.  What a tremendous two months it’s been!

During the ceremony, students shared some of their favorite memories, from learning the in’s and out’s of IT, personal finance, and web applications, to playing volleyball in a nearby park, to just getting to know each other and becoming friends.  Students who may only have known each in passing grew closer and began to identify as “Digital Connectors” and not just “high school students from Blair, Einstein, Wilson, etc.”

Overall the students completed over one thousand community trainings! They worked with all age groups from all different backgrounds, from youth in the heart of D.C. to senior citizens, cousins, members of their church, etc.  This represents a tremendous amount of hard work and we at AALEAD are proud to say that our students have had a true impact on the community.

Each student had their own anime drawing form!

Over the summer AALEAD students in the Maryland High School Summer Leadership program earned over 80 SSL hours through their work with middle school youth and through organizing the first Asian American Youth Summit in Washington D.C. The Summer Leadership Program consisted of three parts: Student Leadership, Workplace Mentoring, and Youth Summit Planning. In the Student Leadership component, each high school student was assigned a role as a group leader or a workshop leader for the AALEAD Summer ME Program for middle school students. The Summer Me Program was centered on nutrition, fitness, mental health & the arts, as well as community service. It provided students an opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves in order to serve the greater community. Workshop leaders were responsible for creating lesson plans while the group leaders served as “counselors” and mentors for their group of Middle School students. It was truly special watching the high school students turn into role models for the younger students. Here are some of their reflections about their experience with AALEAD in Summer ME:

“Summer Me to me was one great experience. At first I was kind of down because I wanted to be a workshop leader but later found out that I was a group leader. I said to Francine and Sharon, “I promise you I am not going to like doing it.” They said, “Trust us, by the end of the program you are going to be grateful that we put you as this.” They were right. I really did love being a group leader. I had students that I have never met before that I am starting to know a lot about them. On the other hand, we did a bunch of activities like having a scavenger hunt, playing volleyball and basketball, learning and performing some choreography, and even doing yoga. Attending the Summer Me program was the best decision I made when summer started. I am very glad to have been a part of this program.”

“I learned to control myself a bit. Being around kids and leading the art workshop gave a sense of authority. Even though it’s exhausting at the end of the day, it’s fun. Also, now I know how my teachers and Francine feel when they’re or she is with us.”

“So far I learned a lot of new things such as being responsible around “kids” because I can’t do the same things as I do to my friends. Also being with AALEAD for the past few months was worth it because I became more responsible, not just to myself but to everyone. THANKS AALEAD!”

“Summer Me. It was definitely a program where I could learn more about myself. Even though I wasn’t able to participate full-time, I’ve gained many valuable experiences throughout that short period. It has taught me the importance of patience, maturity, responsibly and commitment. It has taught me that learning and having FUN can actually go together. Finally, the program has possibly given me more motivation to strive for my career goal as a teacher even more than I ever had before. I can’t believe how this program can have such an impact on me! Thanks for the opportunity AALEAD = Awesome!”

“Through Summer Me I formed bonds with the kids. It’s amazing how we transitioned from the initial awkwardness that comes with meeting new people to a group of people that you can share anything with. Being in Summer Me taught me how to be responsible and I feel that because of this one day I can become someone younger people can look up too.”

Summer ME was such a huge success thanks to the hard work and dedication of the students, AALEAD Staff, interns, volunteers! Because of the leadership of the high school students, AALEAD has risen to a new level of community building and students are motivated to keep the energy going into after school programs. Summer programs are truly magical moments for AALEAD students and these moments would not be possible without the support of all of those who attended and donated money at the 2012 Annual Dinner. Thank you for your generosity and for helping us make Summer ME possible! For more summer memories visit our AALEAD blog!

Elementary School Summer Program Wrap-Up

What a summer! AALEAD’s Elementary Summer Program wrapped on August 3rd after six packed weeks of field trips, activities, guest speakers, Chinese lessons, construction paper, glitter, crayons, markers, and glue.  At the close of the program, we asked students to tell us what their favorite part of the program was and here’s a visual snapshot of their answers:

Clearly, field trips were a recurring favorite, and for good reason! In six short weeks students got to visit a working farm and pick blackberries, have two indoor field days, complete a Museum Scavenger Hunt, compete in the DC Mayor’s Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs Annual Sidewalk Chalk Contest, visit the Newseum, go swimming, participate in a Tennis Clinic at Kastle’s Stadium and finally, everyone’s favorite, – take a trip to Great Waves Water Park!

When not on a field trip, students spent their afternoons learning about health and wellness, exploring the arts, and giving back!  Students took part in yoga workshops, learned an Indonesian calisthenics routine, and discussed different aspects of both physical and mental health. For the arts, students got to paint, make and decorate maracas and drums, learn some break dancing, and more! Students gave back by working in Thomson’s rooftop garden where they planted, weeded, and watered.

Additionally, in cooperation with our secondary school program, students helped to designed and decorate a water collection system utilizing our prize-winning water barrel from our participation in the Be Water Wise DC program! Click here to read more about this project from the Secondary School Program perspective!

In the morning, students explored the richness of Chinese language and culture through workshops taught in Mandarin Chinese. Students got to play Chinese children’s games, learn Chinese yo-yo, chess, calligraphy, dance, and music, and act out traditional folk tales. Students also got to make congyoubing (scallion pancakes), sushi, and jiaozi (dumplings)!

To tie it all together, students reflected weekly on their busy summer by creating a newspaper!

On our final day of programs, the Thomson school cafeteria was packed with siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, friends, and fellow AALEADers. I could not have been more proud as I watched students enthusiastically show off everything they had learned this summer. There were songs sung in Mandarin, a short bilingual play based on a traditional Chinese poem, a scarf dance, demonstrations of Chinese yo-yo, Indonesian calisthenics, and yoga, a rhythm circle, a presentation on our service project, and, back by student popular demand, an encore performance of the Fiesta Asia dance. Watching these performances I was amazed by how much our students had accomplished in such a short amount of time.

We owe thanks to so many people for coming together to make this summer happen. A big thank you goes out to the Children Youth Investment Trust for their funding and support. Thank you also to the Principal and staff of Thomson ES and to the DCPS Office of Out of School Time for making it possible for us to use space at Thomson Elementary School for the program this summer. Thank you to the many volunteers who showed up week after week, supplemented lessons, helped with activities, chaperoned field trips, and so much more. Thank you finally to the AALEAD Elementary School team! These amazing Teachers and TA’s delivered consistent, high quality programming throughout the summer and daily demonstrated their dedication to these students.

Last summer at AALEAD our Digital Connectors summer program was a big hit and we’re pleased to say that we’re back this summer too! Once again 15 of our brightest students have signed up to participate in this amazing opportunity to learn about Digital Literacy and then go out into their communities and give back by teaching what they’ve learned.

It’s been an auspicious beginning so far as the students began the Leadership Development module, learning about such topics as setting and achieving goals, team-building and communication as well as the beginning of our I.T. instruction, including computer parts and terminology.  They’ve also begun to practice and develop their own lesson plans and trainings so that during the latter half of the program they’ll be ready to complete their community service.

Here at AALEAD we’re super excited to hold this program for the second year in the row and we can’t wait to see how things go! A special thanks to the Asian American Justice Center ( for their continued support in helping make this program a reality.

Smithsonian recap

This summer, Maryland Middle School AALEADers braved the hot weather and went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. to visit an exhibit on race.

While the trip was a lot of fun for AALEADers, the exhibit covered many serious topics regarding race. While many students had endless amounts of questions about everything in the exhibit (for instance, one youth asked – “Hey! What’s skin pigmentation?), while others soaked in all of the information that was in the exhibit.

Race is definitely a subject that touches upon AALEAD’s very mission statement and purpose. It’s no surprise that many AALEADers took to heart all of the subjects covered in the exhibit, whether it was something complex like Carl Linnaeus’s development of the Linnaean taxonomy or the decorated lockers at the end of the exhibit depicting race.

Ultimately, the Smithsonian exhibit on race was definitely an informative yet fun exhibit for the Maryland middle school AALEADers. Thanks so much to the Smithsonian, Stephanie Chang, Gina Inocencio, and interns for showing us around the exhibit!

What does a person’s appearance really tell you?

AALEADers hard at work!

Getting in close....
Getting in close…

AALEADers learning how the sun affects skin color

Then, on July 12, 2011, Executive Director Rosetta Lai, Development Director Rick Chen, and Board member Ban Tran attended a preview reception for the Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibition,  featuring unique works from 7 different Asian American artists across the country and around the world. Each work offers thought-provoking interpretations of the Asian American experience and representations against and beyond the stereotypes that have obscured the complexity of being Asian in America.

The reception included guests from similar-minded Asian community-based organizations. AALEAD also had the pleasure of meeting Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and Gina Inocencio, Smithsonian Program Specialist. After chatting, we were happy to learn how aligned our missions were and how our programs were both debunking Asian American stereotypes – one through art and the other through youth development. We look forward to our continued engagement with Smithsonian’s programs.

Rick Chen (middle) and Rosetta Lai (right)
network with Gina Inocencio at
the Portraiture Gallery.

The exhibit is open now through October 14, 2012. More information can be found here.

AALEAD Summer Programs well underway!

Students in AALEAD have been spending their hard-earned summer vacation with us this year, in a wide variety of summer programs that are running in Maryland and DC.

Currently, Maryland Middle School and High School Programs, as well as DC Elementary School and Secondary School Programs are all running our usual, high-quality summer programs with cultural identity workshops, resume and college application assistance, field trips, art projects and much more, but we’ve also added two new programs to our summer catalog this year!

Our Mentoring Program is working with our high school students to bring our Workplace Mentoring Program to summer.  Each week, students have been going to the IBM offices in downtown DC to meet with mentors to go over job preparation, college applications and resumes.  By participating in these weekly mentoring workshops, these students are getting the opportunity to get advice and feedback from well-established professionals.

AALEAD is also working with One Economy to implement the Digital Connectors Program ( this year.  15 talented and motivated students from AALEAD’s Maryland and DC programs are going through training right now to help spread technological awareness to low-income, immigrant and other neighborhoods that don’t have access to this technology.

Check back in as the summer progresses and see updates from all of our programs!!

Let’s go to the farm!

On a hot and humid day, AALEAD EAS went to Homestead Farm for their first weekly field trip as a part of their summer program. As the bus arrived to pick up the young AALEADers, they began jumping and prancing around in nervous anticipation. The young students from Thomson ES were real troopers as they endured a near hour long ride to the farm.  However, they were greatly rewarded upon reaching the farm as they saw ducks, turkeys, lambs, goats, and many other animals.

Many of the students were able to feed an animal for the first time as the tour guide gave each student some feed to give to the goats. Nervous at first, many students eventually fed and grew to love being around the goats and many others.

After feeding the goats, the tour guide thought it’d be best if the young AALEADers got a chance to eat. And so, each student was given a basket to pick some berries. The students learned what types of berries were safe and ripe to eat and learned a valuable lesson in the hard work that goes into the food they eat.

Before hopping back on the bus many of the kids began to eat berries and drink ice water to keep the blistering sun at bay.

Before the kids knew it, it was time to leave. Thankfully, the children were anything but sad on the return home. Together, the children sang and talked together about all the new things they learned today. What an unforgettable day! Hope EAS looks forward to many more adventures this summer!