AALEAD Virginia Middle School After-School Program Recap/Reflection (Fall 2022)

By Catherine Han, Virginia Middle School Program Coordinator 
Photos by AALEAD Staff Members

After a little hiatus due to COVID-19, AALEAD Virginia Fall semester After-School programs for middle school youth were back in action and in person. As of December 2022, we have over 45 middle school youth currently enrolled across our three different school sites. Many of the youth enrolled were brand new to AALEAD. 

The three school sites we are currently at include Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, and Poe Middle School in Annandale. 

During this past Fall semester, the youth participated in ten different workshops, and two field trips. The workshop topics included the following:

  • Open House/Info Session 
  • AAPIs in NOVA 
  • Eating Identities – Community Cup Noodles 
  • Imagined futures 
  • What is an AAPI space?
  • Halloween Party 
  • Powerpoint Karaoke 
  • Cooking – Spring Rolls 
  • Career + Personality Tests 
  • Goal Setting + Creating Vision Boards 

Additionally, a fan favorite for many of our youth is attending field trips. As mentioned, we have had two field trips so far. The first field trip was to the National Museum of Asian Art where youth participated in Get-To-Know You Bingo, and even did a Scavenger Hunt to win prizes. AALEAD Virginia youth had an opportunity to meet other youth from other school sites and grades from middle to high school. After the National Museum of Asian Art, the youth headed over to the National Mall for additional Fall activities and some time to enjoy the outdoors to eat lunch and play volleyball.

The second field trip was a college field trip that was also open to both middle and high school youth. AALEAD Virginia youth had an opportunity to visit American University. For all of our middle school youth that were in attendance, this was the first time they got to experience a college tour which was very exciting. They had an opportunity to mix and mingle with college students and get to hear about their experiences. Youth also had a chance to explore campus through a campus tour and visiting the bookstore.

At the end of each program semester, youth take the time to reflect on their time at AALEAD. Two of the guiding questions posed to youth were whether they would recommend AALEAD to their friends, and what AALEAD means to them. Here are some of the middle school youth responses below (the youth featured on this blog post are all brand new to AALEAD): 

  • Nin, 8th grader: “I would most definitely recommend AALead to my friends. To me, AALead is a welcoming and warm place where I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts. I would never want to lose the opportunity to create a similar environment and community for my friends as well.”
  • Alex, 8th grader: “To me, AALEAD means a community where I can learn and share experiences with my friends. Some ways that I have learned was from the spring roll workshop, where I learned how to make a spring roll, and when I learned about goal setting. I was also able to talk about this experience with my friends who are also in AALEAD. Also, I learned about how to set goals in AALEAD. This helps me be able to set goals in the future.”
  • Hyorin, 8th grader: “I would recommend AALEAD to my friends. Not only is AALEAD open for Asians, but all people can also join! In AALEAD, we get to learn about Asian cultures and even get to experience them. Last week, my friends and I had lots of fun making spring rolls. I also like how we can get service hours and have fun at the same time. AALEAD is a great opportunity for people to learn about new cultures while also having fun.” 
  • Hikari, 8th grader: “I would recommend AALEAD to my friends. It gives students a great opportunity to learn about other cultures. AALEAD offers service hours for students to engage in fun activities. The program offers snacks for every session as well, and sometimes even Asian snacks! It is an excellent place to learn about Asian culture and make new friends!” 
  • Meg, 8th grader: “AALEAD is a wonderful place to learn about Asian culture, leadership, identity, and all the more! Participating in this program has taught me to be more confident, accepting of my culture, accepting of my identity, and far too much more. I’ve also gained many new friends along the way. There were numerous fun activities planned, some involving snacks and service hours, which has no doubt been extremely exciting to take part in. When you get the time to come, I would extremely recommend joining AALEAD.”
  • Vivienne, 8th grader: “I would definitely recommend AALEAD to my friends. In AALEAD, there are so many fun activities and snacks! Everyone gets to collaborate with each other in doing fun things, such as building a gingerbread house and facing off against teams to see who can build the best one! We get to learn about Asian American culture as well and do mini-projects on them. AALEAD is super fun!” 
  • Chengzi, 7th grader: “AALEAD is really fun and it gives us food and entertainment. Sometimes we eat, do community service, watch movies, or just hang out. I’d really recommend AALEAD to my friends.”

Overall, the start of the new program year for AALEAD has been a success! We are looking forward to creating more memories together, being in community with each other, learning more about each other’s culture, and most importantly, having fun! If you are interested in learning more about Virginia Middle School programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Virginia Middle School Program Coordinator, Catherine Han at chan@aalead.org. I am looking forward to seeing all of the wonderful youth, and hopefully new youth for the Spring 2023 semester! 

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