By Assunta Ng
By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Since the founding of our Summer Youth Leadership Program (SYLP) in 1995, more than 500 students have benefited. The Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the newspaper, created the three-week, all-expenses-paid leadership and community-building training camp to benefit more than 30 greater Seattle area high school students each year.
Many of the students started off ignorant about Chinatown and the International District (ID), but we showed them that the ID offers more than food and groceries. The teacher we hired, Yolanda Eng, and voluntary mentors (alums) have worked hard to change each student from being a passive teenager to being a future leader who wants to do something for the community.
Many other alums are successful professionals in different parts of the country and overseas. Most importantly, they all realize the importance of giving back and have made a difference in their communities. I am happy to report that some early alums have married and have become parents, too.
The big reunion
It’s time to celebrate our success with young people. A reunion would be ideal. Thanks to text messages, e-mails, Facebook, and other means, it has been much easier than anticipated to organize our first reunion. It will be in late July 2012, on the day of the Seafair Chinatown parade. Alums, please follow us on Facebook.
See you there.
If you are not an alum, you can still participate in many of the celebrations, such as dancing, music, designing, fundraising, and others. Just e-mail Forrest Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s 2011 SYLP ended on July 15. Aside from the usual dynamic speakers, such as Thach Nguyen, Bob Santos, Lori Matsukawa, Andrew Cho, Phyllis Wise, Mary Yu, Connie So, and many others, we have incorporated new elements into the program.
It’s called “green” and “talent.” This was the first time the students volunteered at the Danny Woo Garden in the International District. Led by Bob Santos, they cleaned and planted stuff in the garden.
During the three weeks of the program, they visited a different restaurant each day. One place they dined at was Loving Hut, the only ID vegetarian restaurant. I was surprised that the majority of them had never stepped foot in a veggie eatery.
Several indicated on their evaluations that they had no idea that faux meats (soy products) can taste so good.
The annual SYLP talent show was the idea of 2010 teacher Genevieve Lin. It’s actually like “America’s Got Talent.” It’s a tradition that the alums wish to see continued by new students. Whatever the students like to do, whether it be singing, dancing, playing the piano, teaching a skill, or performing a trick, we love to watch their show. It’s a way for the students to build self-confidence. If they can get rid of stage fright, they can achieve anything they want.
Big thank you
A heartfelt thank you to the City of Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Department for its support of youth programs.
We couldn’t have run this program without the use of the International District Chinatown Community Center. ♦