A Glimpse into VA Youth Led Programs

By: Liana Shivers and Pallavi Rudraraju, VA High School Program Coordinator and VA Middle School Program Coordinator

Photos courtesy of AALEAD staff and various sources

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for taking time to check in with VA programs again. We’ve been busy all year, and so have our youth. This time around we want to give you a glimpse at the workshops the youth have led.

Youth aimed to lead workshops related to the various pillars that AALEAD tackles: Identity, Leadership, and Education. Many of the youth chose to do workshops related to their own identities.

One Annandale youth that spoke about the Thai New Year known as Songkran, or the Thai Water Festival due to the tradition of splashing water on each other. The water is meant to symbolize a cleansing of bad things, encourage fertility, and invite plenty of rainfall for the upcoming year. The youth were also provided a chance to play a traditional Thai game, called Pao Khob, or Blow the Frog, in which two people are challenged to blow their paper rubber band on top of their opponents. Other youth decided to tackle challenges they face such as stress and anxiety from school pressures, or racial biases and understanding complex identities.

One pair of youth shared the story of Vincent Chin with us, a young Chinese American man who was murdered in 1982 when he was mistaken for being Japanese during a time when the Japanese automobile industry was starting to gain prominence in the United States in a post World War II environment. The story sparked a conversation of racial stereotypes, assumptions, and open-mindedness.

At Holmes Middle School, many youth were excited to share about and sample foods from their diverse cultures. As a result, all of our youth chose to educate their peers about their culture through various food items. From spring rolls to arroz con leche, and elotes to ramen, we had a little bit of it all! Each youth spent several weeks researching a food from their culture on their own, in partners, and in small groups. After finding out all there was to know about their food, they created a presentation and prepared enough of their dish for all their fellow AALEADers to partake in.

The youth chose to use food for their youth-led presentations this year because they were proud to share about their cultures and excited try delicious cultural dishes. In using food as a medium for learning, youth utilized 2 teaching strategies to engage different kinds of learners, especially visual and kinesthetic learners!

We hope you enjoyed this little peak into VA Youth Led Programs this year!

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