New MD High School Staff Introduction: Ari Pak

The group at the wonderful Eid celebration from last Friday, organized by the amazing Eid Squad! Photo Credit: AALEAD Youth

Hi all! My name is Ari Pak and I excitedly join the AALEAD team as the new MD High School Program Coordinator. I first found AALEAD in my search for volunteer opportunities with APA youth. I began volunteering for the DC Elementary School Program at Thomson Elementary school as a Teaching Assistant with 3rd and 4th graders. I fell in love immediately; not only with the youth but with the program as a whole. Eventually, I transitioned into the lead teacher role for the school year and the DC Elementary School Summer Program. Every day, I am amazed by how continuously the youth in our programs inspire, support, and challenge each other to grow. One of my most recent favorite moments (there are so many favorites) was when one student won a highly coveted class prize and, without second thought, gave it to a peer. When another teacher asked why he had given away the prize of the summer, he said with a shrug and smile, “Well, he just really wanted it.” This generous leadership anchored in a sense of community is one of my favorite parts about AALEAD. I look forward to sharing moments like these with the youth that I will be working with in the coming months and can’t wait for what we all have to offer each other!

No introduction is complete without random tidbits so I will leave you with these:

-I have been longboarding for over 8 years and try to do it daily, even if it’s just to commute to work. Incorporating something I love into my every day routine centers me and helps me to stay productive.

-I can wiggle my ears. I might do it when you’re least expecting it, watch out.

-Some of my pastimes include: art/painting/drawing, cooking and exploring new foods, climbing trees, writing poetry, and coffee (making it, drinking it).

Photo Credit: My Nguyen

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