AALEAD Virginia Summer Program Recap/Reflection

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

AALEAD Virginia just wrapped up summer programs, which went from June 28th-July 21st at Holmes Middle School. It was a fun-filled four weeks with seven incredible youth who participated! We were able to build relationships with one another and get to know each other very well. Our summer program consisted of current and incoming high school students – some have been with AALEAD before and some were new.

Now, what did we exactly do during summer programs?

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, our time was spent by checking in with each other, having a workshop series led by the University of Maryland, and community building time. We ended our week on Thursdays, which served as our field trip days!

Some of the activities during programs included name games from your classic “Toss-A-Name-Game” to “Hot Seat”, which is an AALEAD tradition where one person is in the middle and everyone else asks rapid fire questions.

We also got to dive deeper into our own identities through the “Community Cup Noodles” activity. We worked together as a group to develop a list of identities that we had in common, and then selected three that we felt represented the entire group. These were represented through cup noodle toppings – either symbolic toppings or literal images. The final step was to come up with a name that defined the group’s unique Cup Noodles.

Last, but not least, our other activities also included challenge activities, such as Uno, Jackbox Games, and the spaghetti marshmallow challenge.

As for the workshop series with the University of Maryland, youth were able to create their own zine to tell their personal stories. From black out poetry to creating their comic series, youth were able to explore their identities through different means of art. Some of our youth even utilized digital means by doing work on their iPads. At the end of the workshop, youth did a gallery walk, so that their fellow peers could hear and learn more about their stories.

Now, as spoken by our youth, weekly field trips are definitely the highlight of summer programs. Check out our photos below, and see if you can spot our fellow friend, Toad!

During our first week, we were off to Bond’s Escape Room in Fairfax. For many of our youth who participated, it was their first time! They were able to successfully escape the escape room with time remaining!

Then, our second field trip was a collaboration field trip with all the regions, DC and Maryland Teams to University of Maryland’s TerpZone. Youth had an opportunity to meet other youth from other regions, and play games in the TerpZone which had pool, Mario Kart, a lounge area with big TVs, and bowling! Youth even had a great time on the Metro playing Heads-Up on the commute to UMD and back!!

For our third week, we were off to DC to explore Planet Word Museum! The museum was very interactive from photo booths to secret doors to even karaoke!

We ended our last field trip of summer program with a bang by going to cool off from the DMV heat by heading to OceanDunes Waterpark! Youth went on water slides, played games in the pool, and had lunch and dessert together!

Before saying our final goodbyes for the summer, we ended our summer program by having a summer closeout party at Yechon Korean Restaurant in Annandale! Afterwards, we reflected on our time together, shared affirmations, and had yummy desserts at Breeze Bakery Cafe!

Overall, our time together truly flew by during the past four weeks! However, we all know that this isn’t a forever goodbye, but rather a see-you-later as after school programs will be starting up very shortly! AALEAD VA hearts are filled with so much joy being able to see both old and new faces during our programs this year, and we wish you all an amazing rest of your summer! Please stay safe and continue to stay hydrated! See you all very soon!

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