By Alex, MD HS AALEAD Youth
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff & Youth
My name is Alex T. I am a rising 10th grader in the MD HS AALEAD program. This summer, I participated as a youth leader in planning the 4th Annual AALEAD APA Youth Summit which took place on August 1, 2015. The AALEAD APA Youth Summit is a day-long event planned by AALEAD youth and focused on empowering their peers to learn about culture, identity, and leadership. The goal of this year’s Youth Summit was to encourage youth to take risks; to break out of their comfort zone and try something they have never done before. Planning this year’s AALEAD APA Youth Summit was a challenging process that the youth in the planning committees had to overcome in order to have a successful Youth Summit.
I was the co-leader of the Workshop Committee. The Workshop Committee was responsible for finding workshop leaders to fit in the theme of this year’s APA AALEAD Youth Summit which was “Dare to Be Different.” The workshop topics that we focused on were Mental Health, Cross-Cultural Identity, and Entertainment. The key to this theme was to really allow the youth to challenge themselves to explore new perspectives, and to not follow what the crowd does but to follow what they are passionate about. The biggest challenge was determining what workshops the youth would be interested in going to. The workshop committee had to think about workshops that challenged the youth and participants to be different; to find what was interesting to them and not just follow what their friends were going to do. It was also difficult to find people who were able to lead a workshop on our topics of focus. We collaborated together and had a lot of outside help in order to have a successful Youth Summit.
My experience at the Youth Summit was mind blowing. The energy was astounding! It really was a heartwarming moment to see the youth talking to other youth outside of their friend circle. My role at the Youth Summit was coordinating all workshop details, including the entire Workshop Committee team and workshop presenters, and walking around to make sure everything was going well. As I was walking around, standing back and seeing that the youth were all engaged in the workshops was a feeling that cannot be described with words. It was really rewarding to see that everyone was interested in what the workshops were dealing with, the workshops that we had worked so hard to select and organize.
There were many lessons learned during the planning of the Youth Summit. The biggest lesson I learned would most likely be the importance of organizing and keeping track of emails and follow up emails for the workshop leaders. The Workshop Committee was small so we had to be responsible to get things done. There were a lot of discussions about which workshops would be interesting for the youth and how they would tie into the theme “Dare to Be Different.” We had nine total workshops exploring the various topics we chose. Some of the workshops that we hosted were a mental health education workshop by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mock trial with the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC), and a Drumming Empowerment workshop with the Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Program (YWDEP).
Finally, this year’s AALEAD APA Youth Summit was an experience that can’t be forgotten. I had the chance to be a co-leader of the workshop committee which is the core of the Youth Summit. Since I was the co-leader of the Workshop Committee, I had to take responsibility for making sure that the Workshop Committee was doing their job and finding the best workshops that could empower the youth in finding themselves. Taking a leadership role for the Workshop Committee was a big responsibility since I have never planned an event or workshop. It was a new experience to take over the core of the Youth Summit. It was a responsibility I did not want to fail. I am very proud of the hard work my Workshop Committee put in to make the Youth Summit successful. Because of the hard work the Workshop Committee did, it was amazing to see the youth enjoy the Youth Summit and also grow and learn something new.