Power to the Youth!

Queenie Lam

College of Arts & Sciences, 2019

VietLEAD, Community Engagement Internship, Summer 2018

My hometown is Philadelphia so working at community organizations in the very own community that I have grown up in is very interesting. I'm currently studying psychology and hope to work as a mental health counselor in the future. I believe that through VietLEAD I am able to add my own flair to the organization's work through incorporating mental health workshops and emphasizing empathy and communication throughout the program.

VietLEAD does a variety of work. They have youth training programs during the school year and internships programs during the summer, which is the one that I am working with (RICE). There are also volunteer initiatives and a community garden that they are working on. I have learned that VietLEAD fosters growth through community building and community networks. I have seen some of the youth before in ASPIRE and it was very interesting for me to see how much they have grown and the kind of work they're doing.

"I believe that what VietLEAD sets to address and to impact is the power that our youth hold"


VietLEAD disrupts oppressive systems through challenging the idea of education. We are used to a model of education that is very oppressive - higher ups choose the curriculum for public schools and that education is what is fed to our students. This curriculum usually does not include narratives from different cultures and our students are often taught only the dominant narrative in their classrooms. They are not taught to challenge these ideas and so instead, VietLEAD encourages students to challenge these ideas during their school year programs and through RICE as well. VietLEAD takes on a popular education model that encourages participation and engagement in the classroom, and we learn alongside the students through discussions and activities.

"...the youth feel empowered by their ability to be translators and language brokers in their household..."

I believe that what VietLEAD sets to address and to impact is the power that our youth hold. Ageism is something that we often do not think about but engage in often. There are many of us that look down on our younger siblings or think about how a young child doesn't understand something because they're still young. Even as high schoolers, a lot of these students face ageism and lack of belief in their capabilities. This leads the students to lack self-esteem in the work that they do and makes them believe that things like activism, organizing, and work are things to be left to the adults.

VietLEAD sets to empower youth through the various summer programming and also programs during the school year. There are political education workshops and professional development workshops as well. These equip and empower the youth with the skills needed to be leaders in their own schools and households. Many of these students come from households where they are the sole English speaker and are leaders of their own in the household, but yet lack the respect that adults get. Some of the workshops let the youth feel empowered by their ability to be translators and language brokers in their household and empowers them to use their skills to better the world.

Find out more about VietLEAD here.

Return to Archive
Read Next Story