By: Fahduma Majid, Communications and Development Intern and Charles Kuo, DC Programs Manager
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
What is defined as charity? Can “giving” only be defined as a monetary value or is there merit to giving of other varieties? There is value in examining the concept of “giving” from different perspectives. What about giving back to your community through social development and youth work? Can “giving” be mentoring a youth and imparting advice and wisdom that they in turn use for years to come?
For the past 20 years, AALEAD has been supporting youth at different points in their lives. From the elementary school youth who wants a reading buddy to the high school senior who is struggling with the stress of college applications, AALEAD provides an open environment for these youth to be true to themselves. Youth grow with us at AALEAD–an example is Ellen, a high school senior who has been with AALEAD since elementary school. Ellen admits to being a troubled child with a temper and difficulty connecting to her peers on a personal level. After being placed in the after-school program with AALEAD, Ellen was was able to grow into the outstanding leader she is today. Here are some excerpts of the closing remarks that she shared with her peers at our 6th Annual Youth Summit:
“Today I strive to do the same thing as my coordinator has done for me a decade ago. I try to reach out to my fellow peers and meet them where they are comfortable. I am trying to understand each of my peers individually because no one person is an exact copy of another. Through understanding I could build trust and another support system for those who are in need…I can help others too. I am a leader not because people do what I say, but because I serve those who need to be served.”
“We should all grow out of the shells and confinements that society has placed us in, we should let society know that we are greater than what they see us as. As America’s perception of you and me is not who we really are. Tell society that you are in control of your identity and who you want to be, no one should ever look down on an individual because they assume that they are not fit. There is value in the narrative you have to share and do not be afraid to share it. ”
For youth to stick with AALEAD for more than a decade shows the strength of the relationships we help build and the support network that we provide. Collaboration between the AALEAD staff and youth builds strong roots academically and socially. Whether it be an open ear for venting about personal problems to future professional advice, we strive to become pillars of support for the Asian American communities in the area. Help us create more young leaders like Ellen who give back to the community. Donate to AALEAD today for Giving Tuesday.