By Día Bùi, DC Middle & High School Programs Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of Día Bùi
When our youth think of community, many things come to mind; family, friends, and the people around them. In AALEAD, the word community has many meanings, especially when it comes to our youth. Over time, many of our DC youth have grown up in the program from elementary to middle and high school. Next thing we know, we are sending them to college alongside their family and friends.
This year in DC, AALEAD has continued to expand our collaborations across elementary and middle/high school programming in the spirit of community. On Saturday, December 12th, our 5th and 8th graders went on a special AALEAD field trip to EdFEST, an education-focused public school fair, for our youth to gain information about different schools in DC and the My School DC lottery system. It’s an opportunity for our youth to be exposed to as many schools as possible for them to make a decision about their education; a unique experience for DC youth.
These youth took charge; they met new faces from each prospective school and asked poignant questions like “what kind of art classes do you have?” and “how many AP classes are available at your school?” It’s the kind of educationally empowering experience that we hope to facilitate for our young people.
From EdFEST to this year’s new Service Ambassadorship, AALEAD DC has continued to hone in on our youth building community across ages. This year, the AALEAD DC Middle & High School Program launched a special opportunity for “Service Ambassadors,” where middle and high school youth can gain community service learning hours through a series of service opportunities and/or events. This December, the youth have been volunteering their time with the Elementary School youth, providing field trip support and preparing for the DC Holiday Party on Wednesday, December 16th at Thomson Elementary School. One service ambassador wrote:
“Being a [service]ambassador taught me that being a teacher you can shape that child’s future and watch the youth grow in many aspects of life. As I have seen many youths grow up during our adventure from the… Cox Farm to Tysons Corner Mall and back to Thomson Elementary School. I find that many of the youths gained something [whether] it is personally a gain in personality or another great memory with AALEAD. I was honored to share these memories with the youths in the 4th and 5th grade class. I find that it is always a teacher’s gift when they find that their students have grown or they made a difference in the student’s life.” – Ellen, AALEAD DC High School Youth
Our service ambassadors at AALEAD have shown tremendous growth as role models for the younger AALEAD youth in elementary school and have exemplified the spirit of community.