Leadership in Action: For the Youth, By the Youth

By Dia Bui, DC Middle and High School Program Coordinator
Photo Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

All month long, in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, DC youth will be putting leadership into action through leading their own workshops – from Star Wars to origami to League of Legends to food.

Since the beginning of April, AALEAD DC youth have been creating and drafting their workshops in pairs and groups based on their topic of choice. Each with their own unique style, their own story to tell, and their own blend of leadership. Now, in May, the last full month of programs in this academic year, youth will have a chance to refine their skill sets – public speaking, facilitation, creativity, and much more.

AALEAD Leadership in Action

“I think it’s educational, we’re going to let people know how to survive on a college student’s budget.” – Luna on her “Food Wars” Master chef style workshop with Michelle, Steven, and Vertez at Mt. Pleasant

The challenge has extended beyond creating and facilitating a workshop. Each youth was tasked with a goal to meet at least one of AALEAD’s outcome areas of Educational Empowerment, Identity, and Leadership by engaging in activities covering study/life skills, career exploration, cross cultural learning, Asian Pacific American (APA) identity, mental health, or leadership skills. Through this process, the youth have engaged in a different kind of dialogue when it comes to their peers and what kinds of workshops they think reflect the needs and interests of the youth.

It’s a workshop that introduces youth to the perks of origami.” – Yingzhi on her “Origami” workshop with Ying L. addressing mental health and APA identity at Chinatown/Northwest One.

The first workshop to kick of AALEAD DC’s Leadership in Action series features Star Wars on May the Forth, Star Wars Day. Created and led by Edward, Tom and Aung, this trio of Star Wars fans are creating an entire dimension of learning by integrating hands-on learning stations, a team building activity and of course, a self-assessment leadership test of whether one is driven by the light side or dark side. When asked about their “Star Wars Trainee” workshop, here’s what each youth had to say:

I want people to learn and at the end of day, love Star Wars.” – Edward

“The workshop will help people reflect on their leadership skills and what kind of people they are.” – Tom

“When you leave this place, you’ll know more about yourself, what path you’re on. You can choose your path, the Dark or Light side.” – Aung

There’s a level of excitement as each youth submitted their workshop ideas and plan for their peers. The entire month of May is about celebration – the celebration of our young people and the path to understanding their own leadership styles. As their program coordinator since September, I’m incredibly proud to see this effort all come together. Youth voice is at the heart and soul of the DC program. There’s possibly no better way to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month than to see our young people lead in action.



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