AALEAD Making Gains in VA!

By Yonsoo Kang, VA Middle School Program Coordinator

Hello again!

Last year, AALEAD’s Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Manager, Tina, and the VA Programs Manager, Shaima, worked really hard to establish AALEAD’s VA Programs, first through the Mentoring Program, then after school with the VA High School Program at Annandale High School. We are now expanding into Poe and Holmes Middle Schools in the surrounding community. Administrators and counselors in both schools have been incredibly supportive with their time and efforts to make this partnership as successful as it can be.

We are scheduled to begin lunch recruitment at Poe Middle School this week and hope to begin programs by the end of September or the beginning of October.  I want to start strong with these two new programs by reaching out to the new youth and building those relationships so we can form an AALEAD middle school family.

What we’ve been up to!

These past couple weeks have been flying by! Just last week, Stephanie Lim, the Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Coordinator, and I attended a week long training course on Advancing Youth Development (click here for more information).  Both of us highly recommend it to anyone who wants to work with youth.

We met all sorts of people from different youth programs in the DMV area. The facilitators, Thandor and Syreeta, were so welcoming, patient, and provided much insight through their countless stories. We got some “furniture moved around” in our heads as we learned how adolescent minds socially and mentally develop.  Past notions and assumptions were either changed or erased. New ideas and perspectives caused a lot of “ah” and head nodding moments. Some of the things we learned were the importance of relationship building between the adult and youth; providing young people agency to control some aspect of their lives; and how in a program, “Culture trumps everything.” We also learned about the detrimental effects of “adultism” (behaviors and attitudes that stem from the idea that adults are better than young people) and how such a mindset can really prevent a youth program from growing.

After the program ended, I realized that I needed to either switch things around or incorporate the new things I learned. I am planning activities such as journal writing that will allow youths to transition from school to the AALEAD program. I want to get the youth involved right away and one way is to encourage them to create their own rules and norms for the program that are unique from school or home. I think creating this “3rd Culture” within an established safe space will be essential for getting youth to become invested and willing participants in the program.  

A New Home in VA!

Additionally, the AALEAD VA office is officially up and running!  The VA office is AALEAD’s third permanent office space, with our headquarters in DC, and another office in Silver Spring, MD.  The new office solidifies our establishment in VA and will help us in reaching more low-income and underserved Asian Pacific American youth who are currently going under the radar as “in need.”  Cheers to all the exciting new opportunities on the horizon in VA!  Stay tuned for more updates throughout the school year, and come visit us in Annandale!

It’s gonna be great!! #igbg

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