3…2…1…Clear for Take Off!

By My Nguyen, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of My Nguyen, AALEAD Staff

DC Middle and High School Program has officially blasted off!

Two weeks ago, we started our DC Middle and High School Program, and kicked off the first week with team building activities, or simply put, fun activities to help students get to know each other better. With so many new faces joining the program this fall, we began our first meeting with an animal name game. With this game, students gathered in a form of a circle where they took turn introducing themselves by telling the group their name and a name of an animal that starts with the same letter; for example, Tommy/Tiger. Not only did the students have to match an animal with the first letter of their name, they also had to make a gesture that is associated with their animal. The tricky part of game was that each person must go back to the first person in the circle and say everyone’s name, animal, their gesture, and then their own. It was such a great atmosphere to see students laugh and giggle as they memorize their peers’ names. After the animal name game, students showcased their acting skills with telephone charades. These activities allowed students to learn more about their peers, express their personality, and share interesting things about them.

The second week, we shifted our focus on Asian American Identity and explored Japanese culture by making sushi or maki-zushi. Not only was this activity a great way for our youth to sample cuisine from another Asian culture, it gave them a chance to try something new since many of our youth had never made sushi before. Students learned that the unique evolution of sushi began in Japan stemmed from impatience, where Japanese people found it hard to wait the several months for the sushi to mature so they just began to eat pickled rice with the fish. For our sushi cooking activity, we made sushi using the traditional ingredients found in a California Roll. Students were able to select from three different types of roll they wanted to make. The types include; futomaki, temaki, and uramaki. Futomaki is similar to a large cylindrical piece with the seaweed wrapper on the outside. Temaki is a cone shaped hand roll with the seaweed wrapper on the outside with the ingredients spilling out the wide end. Uramaki is the opposite of the futomaki roll with rice on the outside.

As Plato once said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” So we ended our 2nd week of programming with a trip to the University of Maryland to take on their Ropes Course Challenge. This adventure-based learning experience helped students assess their comfort level, discover how team members communicate a point of view, and learn how tactics, teamwork and fierce emotions are combined to create a turning point in overcoming obstacles. We ended our afternoon with the rock wall where many of our youth faced their fear of heights and climbed all the way to the top.

The weather may be cooling down, but AALEAD’s DC Middle and High School Program is just heating up, and there are plenty more to come from this group of youth.

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