By Yonsoo Kang, VA Middle School Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Hello everyone! It’s Yonsoo again.
It seems like only a couple months ago when I first arrived at Holmes Middle School in late September as AALEAD’s new VA Middle School Program Coordinator. A few weeks had passed and I was a bit crestfallen because we only had four youth enrolled in AALEAD Programs at Holmes. What was I supposed to do? What kind of exciting activities were there for four people? The AALEAD Middle School Program was completely new to Virginia and youth were very cautious in joining something they did not really know about. Fast forward to eight months later: AALEAD at Holmes has expanded to 19 youth with the help of Holmes students, such as Henry H. and Kevin T., who helped bring in more of their friends and classmates. With more youth, I could plan for bigger, better activities!
For example, in the past two months, Holmes youth…
played the Vietnamese card game “13;”
met with Poe Middle and Annandale High School AALEADers to clean up the local Accotink Creek off of I-495;
had Annandale AALEADers come in to make and present Vietnamese banh bao;
learned about the concepts of power and colonialism by making ice cream sundaes;
contributed to their school community by weeding the front garden;
participated in learning the Fiesta Asia dance routines!
“Why I love AALEAD and what it means to me,” in the words of AALEADers:
“I go AALEAD because my friends were there and so I decided to join, but when I joined it gave me more reasons to keep coming. I like how we get to play games and have fun and then learn or review about lots of things. Another reason why I go to AALEAD is that it makes me comfortable and I get to be myself and not always be the shy guy I always been.”
– Christopher L.
“I enjoy getting to meet some new people I never met and learn about interesting stuff in the power points in AALEAD. It’s always funny and humorous in AALEAD because there are a lot of funny people. But what I like best is the fun exciting games we play together… I also enjoy being there with my friends who also come to AALEAD. I really enjoy being in AALEAD… I hope that we keep do these fun things.”
– Vicky C.
“What makes me go back to AALEAD, is the people. They’re nice, funny, and it makes me feel welcomed. Also, what makes me go back is the lessons, I figured that the lessons are very helpful in the future and I needed them since I didn’t have any classes that would teach me these kind of things. And I just love AALEAD. I’ve only been with them for half a year but I feel proud to be a member and I enjoy helping them and doing the things we do. The atmosphere has a soothing and welcoming vibe. And when we do the exercises like gardening and playing ball or cooking they seem really fun. As result, these things make me go back to AALEAD.”
– Christina T.
“I love attending AALEAD. It’s really helpful because I can communicate better with the people there than with others. They help me be more social among my classmates and the club also helps me discover new cultures. AALEAD has a very understanding teacher. This club has had an impact on my life. It has helped me discover my opinions/views on different issues in this world. Furthermore, it has helped me discover things I didn’t know about myself. I can state my opinion and no one judges me. AALEAD is an amazing club.”
– Yeabsira G.
Looking back, I have seen a noticeable change in most of our Holmes AALEADers. Whether it be speaking out more during programs or finding the courage to see a Spanish teacher after school for extra help, Holmes AALEDers have risen to the challenge of meeting and surpassing expectations. They have exhibited a certain level of grit and mental toughness that allows them to find humor in any situation. I am amazed at the level of their creativity and enthusiasm they bring to programs, which make it even more exciting to be there. I will really miss the 8th graders who became the core of this year’s AALEAD program. However, I also look forward to next year’s program and thrilled by all of the endless possibilities that can come to AALEAD with the help of old friends and new faces.
It’s gonna be great! #igbg