By Airah, Current AALEAD Youth
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Last month from February 20th to February 22nd, I went with AALEAD to the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) Conference held at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. There were 9 students selected from AALEAD students and I felt really honored to be selected as one of the attendees to represent my school and AALEAD. I was really excited to go because I got to learn things that I am passionate about and interested in.
Because there was bad weather, I worried the trip was going to be cancelled. I contacted Ari [MD High School Program Coordinator] asking if the conference was cancelled and was really relieved when she said we were still going. We arrived at the meeting place and I didn’t know [any of the other youth] except for the Maryland AALEADers. However, once we got in the AALEAD van, Ari and the other coordinators started an ice breaker so we could be more comfortable with each other. After a few minutes of singing and talking in the van, we knew each other pretty well and were finally more comfortable. When we arrived in Boston, we went over the schedule for the conference in the hotel with some pizza and we got to pick the two workshops we wanted to go to. It was hard to pick because there were a lot and I wanted to go to all of them! When we narrowed it down, we were too excited for the next day and I couldn’t wait.
The first workshop that I went to was about Asian Americans in comedy. We talked about the stereotypes Asian Americans face in the media, movies, and social media. We focused especially on the TV series “Fresh Off The Boat,” and discussed how the show deals with stereotypes of Asians. The second workshop I attended related to choosing career and college paths. I learned about the three things we must balance in order to be on the right career path: passion, ability, and market. It was really important for me to learn that because I am a junior and I’m currently thinking about which college major to choose. That workshop helped me get one step closer to choosing the right path for me.
Another goal for us AALEADers at ECAASU was to make connections with workshop presenters to consider hosting for our Annual AALEAD APA Youth Summit. I got to talk to the presenters and explain to them what AALEAD was and invite them to present at our Youth Summit. It was an interesting and fulfilling experience for me because I got to represent AALEAD and take on a leadership role. After the workshops, AALEADers volunteered serving dinner and I met some people who I met earlier. It was interesting how they were so surprised and excited to learn we were high school students. Afterwards, we had a great time at the Closing Ceremony and enjoyed performances by Jeni Suk and Dark Matter.
Although we were limited in what we could do in Boston because of the weather, we still had the best time for the whole trip! I had many takeaways from the trip. I have many fun memories making new friends and connections, within and outside of AALEAD. I also learned many new things to share with my peers and AALEAD.