By Ha Nguyen, VA Programs Intern
Photos Courtesy of Ha Nguyen
It is now official, everyone! The glorious summer is finally here right on our door steps inviting us all to step outside in the sun and start our own adventures. I am sure that you already have or are sketching out exciting plans with your friends and family. For me, I will be spending my time interning at AALEAD’s Virginia office this summer, and I am so excited for what to come.
My name is Ha Nguyen, and I am currently a rising senior at George Mason University studying Global Affairs and Economics. I crossed paths with AALEAD last summer when I went to the organization’s “Aspire to LEAD” event with a family member, and I still remember my utmost impression at the cordiality as well as the professionalism projected by the staff at the event. I just recently started my journey in the United States a few years ago and I can definitely relate to all the struggles and challenges that Asian American youth have to face everyday, especially at such a young age. It is undeniably great that AALEAD’s programs are able to reach out to these youth and help them to prepare and navigate their development for a better future. Needless to say, while scavenging for internships, AALEAD was at the forefront of my mind and I was so glad I was able to join the team for the summer.
My main tasks during this internship will be helping the VA Staff in preparation for running the VA Summer Program for both middle and high school youth in the area. It will obviously be an interesting yet also challenging experience for everyone involved, and I cannot wait to see the program unfold soon.
In the mean time, I have been reading up on youth development concepts and what they mean in practical application. Therefore, I really want to share with you some thought-provoking ideas that I just learned. One is about a common type of interaction known as “adultism.” Essentially, adultism conveys the assumption that adults are better than young people and thus often feel entitled to ignore youth while making important decisions.
“When are you going to grow up?”
“Stop being so childish.”
“You can have your opinions when you are older.”
I am sure we have all heard or even used these statements at least once in our lifetime. In fact, I am actually guilty of imposing this perspective a few times with my own younger brother in my frustration without even realizing it until now. However, what I did not realize is that these seemingly “harmless” words can greatly invalidate youth’s opinions and deter them from opportunities to form their own beliefs and skills.
Instead, what we could be doing to prevent adultism is to:
— Respect youth
— Talk to youth and listen to their opinions
— Have high expectations of youth and their potential
— Most importantly, be patient!
I believe that once adults can be mindful of how they approach their interactions with youth, youth-adult relationships would be able to develop in a more positive light. So, some serious food for thought for everyone reading! Meanwhile, I will continue to learn as much as I can while trying my best to contribute my help to the VA Program in the upcoming weeks. I really look forward to connecting with the staff and youth in our summer program soon!