Bringing out the Family of AALEAD

By Emily N., current AALEAD youth and Pallavi Rudraraju, VA Middle School Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

Last week, AALEAD’s VA Programs sent off our youth for winter break with a fun and activity-filled Winter Holiday Party. For many of our new AALEADers, it was the first time they interacted with staff and youth outside of their school. As a program coordinator, I am thankful for and proud of all the hard work our VA youth put in to the party. Our Youth Councils played a huge part in planning the event, and all youth at our three schools took part in creating decorations and activity stations. This party was a wonderful opportunity for the AALEAD family in its many different forms to come together and celebrate our community.

Emily N., one of our VA MS Youth Council members and a 3-year participant in AALEAD programs, shares her reflections on the party below:


My name is Emily Nguyen and I was part of AALEAD’s VA Holiday Party. During the party we all helped to set up at Poe Middle School. I enjoyed seeing Holmes and Annandale AALEADers come to help too – it shows so much how students can work together, get along well even though we don’t know each other, and it really does show how AALEAD is one big family. We care and love each other and will always look out for one another. The next thing I wanted to say is what happened during the party. All youth ate first, and after dinner we all went around and did some activities.

I played Jenga with a friend named Tracy,  Mr. Rosas,  the After School Specialist at Poe Middle School, and Ms. Vi, who is the AALEAD Mentoring and Volunteer Programs Coordinator. We all backed away when we noticed the Jenga tower started to increase in height.

Other youth enjoyed themselves after dinner by playing cards and dreidel games, making reindeer ornaments, and busting a move. We even had a pie-eating contest and a youth-made photo booth – perfect for making memories that will last!

The party overall was very enjoyable. Students and adults were having fun and meeting new people. It was also great to see AALEADers who we know and re-connect with them. I do feel that people who have never heard of AALEAD should join. My reason is that it really does open your eyes and you can see the many cultures that people live by, you can see how much people really do care and want you to join them. The best thing is we treat each other like loved ones. Sure, we’re not blood-related, but we treat each other like we are because we care so much about what you say when you are upset, when you really are silent and need love, we’re always there to show that we care and we support you.

From our family to yours – wishing you happiness and peace this holiday season!

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