By Roselyn Buensuceso, Former MD Middle School Programs Coordinator
Joining AALEAD has been the greatest adventure. I met an amazing team of staff who dedicate themselves wholeheartedly into supporting youth. I met youth from MD, DC, & VA who all have a spark of curiosity in their eyes, a hunger to change the world, and a light that radiates warmth to everybody around them. AALEAD is a space of kindness, care, and joy: cultivated carefully by staff and nurtured gently by youth.
If I could create a montage of my AALEAD memories, some of my highlights would be carrying buckets of water balloons across a smoldering field for DC summer programs, picnicking with MD youth outside the Smithsonian museum during a day-long field trip to DC, frying lumpia with Newport Mill MS youth, exploring the Lunar New Year Festival with youth at the Kennedy Center, hosting our first virtual programs on Zoom, and delivering hats to youth during our first ever combined DC & MD summer programs. This list barely even scratches the surface of what being part of this group is like. All of these memories were about building community, and that is one of the most important values AALEAD has shown me.
Some of my most reflective and thoughtful conversations this year took place with youth. The events of 2020 have impacted youth more than adults would like to admit. As a result, they expressed themselves through art, explored how to show solidarity with other communities, and kept searching for ways to create meaningful change. AALEAD staff were there every step of the way to support youth as they navigated this year – and if they didn’t have an answer to something, they’d go out of their way to find ways to get youth the resources they need. Their dedication is resilient and unwavering. To my youth and fellow staff, thank you for the endless laughter, for your wisdom, for holding space for one another during this tumultuous year, and for your friendships. You all have taught me lessons about myself and the world that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I will be carrying these lessons to my next journey at Advocates for Youth where I will be able to bridge my passions for youth work and reproductive rights, health, & justice. While I am excited for this new journey, I am comforted by the fact that I will be forever connected to this AALEAD family. I am eternally grateful for having the privilege to be part of this community.