Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mentor-Mentee Event at the NEWSEUM

Mentors and mentees from MD and DC came together for a wonderful event at the NEWSEUM on Saturday, February 21st. They enjoyed eating wonderful food by Wolfgang Puck. According to our mentee Tony, "it was the best food I ever had".

In addition to touring the museum, all of our mentor-mentee pairs enjoyed viewing a 4D movie that had you literally shaking in your seat. Take note of the lovely glasses the museum provided for the attraction.

The upper level atrium also provided a wonderful view of the Capitol and Pennsylvania Ave. It was an enjoyable event and mentor and mentees are looking forward to the next one.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thank You Accenture for a computer lab and basement transformed!

On February 16, 2009, volunteers from Accenture came to help beautify our AALEAD Building. Their mission: (1) to paint and build new furniture for the computer lab and (2) to help us clean our basement.

Our computer lab was old, with faded white walls and mismatched furniture. Our basement was filled with junk that had accumulated over several years.

The volunteers worked tirelessly the entire afternoon, taping, painting, hauling junk into our dumpster, and they stayed long after their scheduled hours with us to finish the task!

The efforts of their hard work paid off! We were left with an amazingly vibrant computer lab and a clean basement!

Thank you Accenture volunteers, for your time and dedication!

Friday, February 06, 2009

2009 AALEAD Annual Dinner!

On Thursday, February 5th, 2009 AALEAD held its 10th Annual Dinner at China Garden in Rosslyn, VA. It was a full house packed with energy and excitement! The evening highlighted a keynote speech from Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools.

AALEAD was able to take time to recognize our corporate sponsors, dedicated supporters, and special guests who also attended.

Our high school student emcees navigated the event for all of us!

The spotlight was on our youth in the middle of the evening! Stellar performances awed the audience as our youth showed off their talents in hip hop dancing, line dancing, Bollywood dancing, and a special solo voice performance of "God Bless the USA."

The student performances ended with AALEAD youth sharing their own stories with the audience. We had youth from our elementary, middle, and high school programs, and even an AALEAD alumni who is now attending college in Maryland!

And finally, the evening was filled with good food and great fun!

*A special thank you to our photographer, Jenny Ruley, for these beautiful photos.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Citibank invites AALEAD to its Opening Night Celebration!

On Thursday, January 15, 2009, AALEAD was invited to help celebrate the opening of Citibank's new Chinatown branch! As part of their commitment to serving community, they also awarded AALEAD with a generous $5,000 grant. Staff members and AALEAD students attended this event.

Thank you Citibank for your generosity!

Ali and his “Seed Project”

“What Grade are you in?” I asked Ali Al Saleh, one of our students from Bancroft Elementary School, as we walked together to the Metro Station. He responded back matter-of-factly, “I am in first grade doing second graders’ stuff.” This was his humble way of telling me that he was smart enough to skip the first grade.

Ali is not only smart, but artistic as well. His artwork was chosen to be among 400 winner entries from elementary school students all across the nation. We were both excited to go to the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill for the unveiling of the art exhibit promoting health care, entitled, “America’s Future starts with Healthy Children.” Although Ali may not directly be aware of it, his artwork was his contribution in supporting the S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) bill. Like a small seed planted, it is sometimes unimaginable what potential it may have in the future. This Bill will guarantee health coverage for 10 million children across the United States.

AALEAD Elementary After-School Program has had an active role in this advocacy. The events brochure captured the excitement: “Students from grades K through 6, in Asian American LEAD’s Bancroft and Thomson Elementary School after-school program, in Washington, D.C. quickly flooded the campaign with over forty pieces of artwork. Works ranged from the importance of respecting other people, to breathing good air, eating healthy foods, making friends and building wholesome communities.” This project is a “seed” of opportunity for our students to participate in legislature that may affect the majority among them, being as they are mostly from low-income immigrant families.
Additionally, Ali had the privilege of meeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Jay Rockefeller. He also had the opportunity to explain his artwork to the senior staff of Representative of Chris Van Hollen of Maryland's 8th District. This Ali did with both great confidence and the simplicity of a child. It was so encouraging to see this “seed project” coming to life as one young boy’s creativity contributes to the greater purpose of affecting many children here in the United States.

As I took Ali back home, I asked him if he enjoyed the day and meeting the senators. He joyfully answered back that he definitely enjoyed his experience, but had to ask me one important last question: “What is a senator?”

I guess our journey with Ali is not yet over; the seeds of greatness in the life of this young boy still needs to be nurtured by the people around him. And like a seed awaiting germination, a nurturing environment can make all the difference. It is indeed a privilege that AALEAD can play a vital role in investing in the life of this promising student.