Desi Young Women's Program Create Self-Care Kits

By Sakikun, Shrika and Mithila, Grade 12

Throughout this summer at DYW, we have discussed self love and being emotionally well. Today we decided to create our own self care packages for the moments when we feel discontent. We personalized the tool kit by giving it a name, decorating it, and filling it up with quotes and pictures that soothe and comfort us. A first aid kit, but for our emotions. Using these comforts as band-aids when life decides to give us a little paper cut.

ARISE Program Learns About High School Student Rights

BY MEHBOOB, GRADE 10

As school starts once again, rising Freshmen and Sophomores learn about their rights as high school students. A lawyer from Queens Legal Services in charge of  the Education Rights Project, Tara Foster, visited the ARISE members on August 16 for a presentation. During her presentation we learned about what rights we have as high school students, such as, your personal belongings cannot be searched without a good enough reason and you cannot be expelled unless you are at least 17 years old. After the presentation, we had a group chat where we asked about other rights we have in school and scenarios we would be able to use those rights. This was an important experience because the presentation allowed me to learn about my own rights. It is good for more students to know, especially if they ever get into a situation where they have to know their rights.

SAYA Youth Explore Colleges

By Nusrat, Grade 12

When it comes to junior and senior year of high school, students are busy with finding information and selecting colleges. Not to mention, many students are afraid of college, since they have always dreamed of it but never experienced it. 

With the goal of preparing high school students for college and career, South Asian Youth Action holds a lot of youth leadership programs and take students on campus tours to different prestigious colleges around the country. This summer, during August, the SAYA college trip was to upstate New York to the some of the most popular colleges in the state. During the trip we visited Syracuse University, University of Rochester, RIT, Cornell University and SUNY Binghamton. Simultaneously, youth got the opportunity to enthusiastically learn more about college, and to travel outside of the city. After being exposed to the different curricula of colleges, youth choose what’s best for them. 

University of Rochester

BY OHONA, GRADE 12

In navigating the plethora of colleges and universities in existence, students struggle most in their journey of finding a school perfectly suited to their interests. We all have ambitions and aspirations that may have had to take a backseat in our path to finding a secure and well payed job; the University of Rochester believes in no such compromises.

This University not only accepts but even encourages diversity in educational interests. While many schools limit the combinations of double major possibilities to similar departments, the University of Rochester has no problem with you being in pre-med and having a dance minor.

Better yet, this school doesn’t have any required subjects! Rochester prides itself in this liberal curriculum, as the extra time allows more students to take up to 3 majors throughout the school’s three divisions of learning.

Clusters are something unique to the University of Rochester; they give students the opportunity to have even more control and flexibility over their own course loads. Clusters are “a set of related courses that fall within one of the three academic divisions.” They bear at least 12 credits, and are often even created by the students to conform to their own interests and desires.

Rochester has a mandatory writing class due to their belief that expression and eloquence are necessities in all fields of expertise. When taking a tour through the campus our guide explained one of the initiatives of the school; the University of Rochester believes writing is a form of expression that is beneficial to engineers, writers, and all subject areas in between.

Walking through the campus revealed to us students of varying appearances, races and genders. From this limited sample size of summer students at the University of Rochester, it can be gathered that the community is quite diverse. With the school’s well rounded and encouraging curriculum, their underground hallways to avoid the extreme weather of the seasons, and their diverse community of students, the University of Rochester is an ideal school with great academic rigor and diversity.

Cornell University

BY SOHA, GRADE 12

With its great hilltop views to the many trees from various species, you’ll never be bored walking through Cornell University. This prestigious university isn’t known for its landscapes, but it will surely overwhelm you with courses ranging from Asian American Studies to Veterinary Medicine. During my experience touring this school, it really made me wish that I could redo high school to achieve the grades that would allow me to even think about applying to Cornell. To the lowerclassmen reading, I suggest you pick up the books and study hard, and to the upperclassmen, it may or may not be a little too late to get the grades this noble university is patiently waiting for.

Once reaching Cornell University, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the campus because it reminded me of more agriculturally soothing Hogwarts. Never would I have thought to be blessed with the opportunity to tour the Ivy League university, and my tour guide made sure that we would fall in love with her school. I like to think of Cornell University as its own city, especially since it caters to around 20,000 students, which is crazy because I thought my high school was overcrowded with just about 3,000 students! Don’t worry about ever feeling alone because there are over 1,000 clubs, such as Bhangra, Cycling, Writing, and even a club fit for the Harry Potter fans, Quidditch.

On to the academics, Cornell obviously fits this category well. With a highly selective admissions rate of 14.2%, Cornell looks to find the best of the best from all of the applicants. The university contains 14 colleges and schools; the two largest undergraduate colleges are the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Cornell’s popular majors include Engineering, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and Business. Your major shouldn’t bring you down to only choosing courses specific to its category, especially with 4,000 courses across 100 academic departments, so knock yourself out with diverse courses to fit your interests in any field.

The shine from our tour guide’s constant smile proved that Cornell is everything to be proud about. One fact she shared with us was that one notable alumni, Bill Nye the Science Guy visits and takes whoever resides in his previous dorm out to dinner.

Rochester Institute of Technology

By Aritra, Grade 12

Tuesday morning, it was 6:30 AM and I realized I was late to go to the SAYA center where we were supposed to meet with everyone. However, I ran to my closet and grabbed some fresh clothes to wear and ran to the bus stop. I was surprised that when I went to the center, I was one of the early arrivers there. So early that the door for the center was locked. Even though we didn’t leave until 8 AM, it felt satisfying to not be late. When I got onto the bus, one of many things that excited me was that I was going to visit two of the colleges that I have been wanting to visit for a long time.

I was excited to visit Rochester Institute of Technology because I have heard many compliments about their STEM programs. RIT is not a prestigious school for liberal arts degree or any kind of degree other than STEM. Nonetheless, their engineering program is nationally recognized by many large companies. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and Intel hire graduates from RIT every year. In addition, Microsoft is one of RIT’s many industrial partners, which means some of RIT’s curriculum is made according to their standard and reviewed by professionals working in those companies. RIT also hosts the only Microelectronic Engineering program in the whole United States that is accredited by ABET. RIT students are required to do Co-op in their fifth year in order to graduate; co-ops help graduates learn practical uses of what they learn.

Some of the cons of RIT is that 70% or more of the students are male and only 30% are female students. You definitely will see more guys hanging around the campus than girls. Lack of trees around the campus area could be a negative thing, though, there is a huge park behind the campus. Not to mention, if you love snow then don’t worry you will have plenty of it if you go to RIT, so much snow that you might be able to catch some snow in the beginning of summer. Every building in RIT is made out of the same colored bricks, so if that’s your style then you will love it.

In conclusion, Rochester Institute of Technology is a great school for anyone who is interested in STEM. One can totally see their tech oriented environment just by noticing all the amazing projects sitting around the campus. In my opinion, I can see myself going to that school as a student someday.

Syracuse University

By Angie, Grade 12

After approximately a four hour ride on the bus, SAYA’s youth and their chaperones laid eyes on the first college of their tour. Syracuse University had a big, beautiful campus that had hills where students had fun sledding down during the winter. They had a mix of new and old buildings that were covered in vines. This, in my opinion, gave the campus character.

The school offered over 300 clubs for students to participate in during college. These included debate, dance, Greek life, gaming, and more! Something that seemed really helpful was they had their own ambulances called Syracuse University Ambulance. This health-services based student organization helps over 1,500 emergencies each year. This is helpful because students won’t have to pay for the cost of ambulances and since it’s on campus, they could respond to emergencies faster and rush students to the nearest hospital.

There was a funny anecdote about how the school got their colors. Their colors use to be pink and pea green. However, the track team got made fun of their colors so they had a meeting and told the chancellor about their experience. Thus, their school colors were changed to orange since no school had claimed that color.  

 

Goldman Sachs Day

BY MEGA, GRADE 12

Being a part of SAYA for more than three years, I was given yet another opportunity to attend the Goldman Sachs Day.  A day filled with not only educating and learning, but also communicating, seeking, inspiring, laughing, genuinely talking and most importantly, building connections. This day which comes around every year in SAYA’s summer program gives youth like myself a chance to broaden ourselves with all of the impactful information provided to us by the men and women from Goldman Sachs.

On the morning of this event, I woke up with a smile, and put on my best interview clothes I could find--and let me tell you, it feels pretty neat to be in an outfit that makes you feel like you work in a very professional place. Though it’s not always about what you’re wearing, dressing up in such attire definitely gives off the sense of accomplishment.

Our morning began with splitting into groups. We had different color wristbands and we split up into different groups; unfortunately, many friends were separated, but we knew it was for the best. The event was divided into 3 parts: “elevator pitch”, mock interviews, and conversations. With my previous experience with this event, I was definitely less nervous than most of my peers; however, being the exceptional peer that I am, I informed my comrades that the interviews aren’t as intimidating since we stay in groups. During this event, I found that staying in groups definitely allowed the youth to become more outspoken, and availed the nerve-wracking feelings.

The Goldman Sachs men and women were more amicable than I thought they would be, and you could see that their true intention to be apart of this event was to be genuine philanthropists. When my group and I were doing elevator pitches, our Goldman Sachs mentor was Michael. He introduced himself very briefly, however, throughout the time he opened up and not only provided us with a considerable amount of information on how to give an elevator pitch, but also worked with our characteristics and personalities and helped us to incorporate that in our pitches. Most of us were stuck because we didn’t have that much to say, but he gave us a boost of confidence and showed us how to take advantage of the things that we did have to say.  

After that, my group was forwarded to the mock interviews. Mock interviews were one on one interviews with the Goldman Sachs’ members. This was surprisingly my favorite part because I was able to completely be myself and because the members were experienced with interviews, it was clear to see that they knew what they were doing.  My interviewer was very constructive. He told me what I needed to work on and what I should expect. He gave me tips and tricks that were effective and definitely improved my interview skills. After I was done with my interview I got to talk to my friends and I was able to see they were a lot less timid and tense, and it really seemed like they were enjoying this moment. We then moved on to conversations and in this part of the event, we got to know the members personally. We were able to converse with whomever we wanted to get to know more. The members my group and I got to learn about were super friendly and they not only talked about their work ethics, but also talked about their personal life with their children, traveling and what their hobbies are. It was surely a moment to remember because each and every one got to share something personal about each other and it was a serene environment filled with laughter and joy, all along with the sharing of knowledge.

At first, this event seemed as though it was only for those who want to pursue careers in finance, business or accounting. Although most of the men and women are pursuing their careers in those fields, the main message they were trying to deliver was to prepare the youth for whatever career they want to pursue. I realized this because I want to pursue a career in dance, and that’s somewhat completely different from the fields most of the members were in, however that did not stop the Goldman Sachs members from doing their job and helping me to prepare for the job I wanted. I wasn’t the only one who experienced this, my friend, Michael, went through something similar. Michael wants to be a professional baseball player, and in the beginning of the event he was intimidated because he felt he didn’t fit in with the theme and what the event seemed to be about, however, his thoughts changed when he met a Goldman Sachs member who could relate to Michael and gave him tips on how to really seek his career in that field. Michael came to me after with excitement and told me about his experience which boosted his confidence. The event SAYA and Goldman Sachs hosted encouraged my peers and I to do something that was different and that was what I admired most about this event: the message it delivered.

 

9/11 Memorial

BY BRITTANY, GRADE 12

The 9/11 Memorial Museum is not just a museum, or even just an homage to the tragedy, it is an unearthly experience that allows one to relive that day even if they weren't present or alive when it took place. 

When learning about September 11, 2001 in school, there's a lack of translation between facts and the emotions of people on the planes, in the towers, and the Pentagon. 

No amount of knowledge on the dates and times and statistics can truly prepare one for listening to a husband call his wife and leave a goodbye message telling her he loves her knowing it's the end. The museum humanizes 9/11 until it's physically unbearable to hold one's emotion in. 

When walking through the museum itself, it is incredibly dark and disconcerting. The discomfort one feels is meant to simulate the discomfort felt by those who were stuck in the towers and the Pentagon, stuck in a dark, smoky maze desperately searching for a light to guide them to safety. It also acts as an overarching allusion to the chaos and confusion that followed directly after the attacks. 

After physically walking through the day by walking further through the museum one learns about the events by mainly listening to first hand accounts of those in the buildings. One feels emotionally attached to the victims crying in recordings, accounting their terrifying reality on that day. 

The intensity of the light begins to increase as one walks further into the museum. By the time one has reached the end the lights are turned up fully and everyone is faced with the aftermath. This was the buildup. The entirety of one's journey comes down to these moments, watching the terrorists pass through airport check-ins, seeing how the world reacted to one of the largest and most devastating terror attacks, and searching through the aftermath like debris to find a silver lining or a better future. 

The point of the 9/11 memorial museum isn't to make one relive the day or even teach people about what happened, it is to honor those who lost their lives by instilling empathy in a new generation of legislators and government officials. A deep understanding of what happened on 9/11 and how many lives it affected puts into perspective how, if it took just a few men with passports and plane tickets to incite fear in an entire nation imagine how much good one person is capable of creating in the world. 

High School Youth End the Year on a High Note

This past year at SAYA has been fast-paced, fun, and so fulfilling.  In celebration of the graduating class of 2016, this past Saturday, June 18, SAYA hosted our annual Senior Send-Off event so youth could come together to eat, dance and have a great time.  At the beginning, students were reluctant to dance but then made their way onto the dance floor once they heard the all too familiar Electric Slide.  Then there was no stopping them.  Our seniors were presented with a small token of our gratitude for their consistency and participation which we awarded each of them on stage, a moment allowing to applaud them individually.  With the help of a live DJ, great food and lots of effort from our staff, youth danced, laughed, received gifts, celebrated birthdays and accomplishments, and had an amazing time.  

SAYA Youth Have a Fun Day at Six Flags

On Saturday, June 11, approximately 50 SAYA high schoolers and their mentors took a trip to Six Flags Theme Park in New Jersey.  Unfazed by an 8 am departure, youth came equipped with their bluetooth speakers and top hits playlist, keeping everyone entertained during the journey.  Upon arrival, youth broke out into groups based on thresholds for ride intensity, and embarked on their respective adventures.  After a midday check-in to ensure no one let Nitro get the best of them, the students continued their day of fun.  The event was a success, and a well-deserved treat for our motivated and hardworking youth.  For their enthusiastic participation throughout the year and their engagement with the intense curriculum, career fairs and conferences, they earned a day of pure, unadulterated fun.

 

Youth Learn all about Personal Growth at SAYA’s First Annual Young Men’s Leadership Conference

This year we had the opportunity to have our first ever SAYA Young Men’s Leadership Conference.  Young men attending the conference participated in two workshops: one on civic engagement panel and one on having a growth mindset.

In the morning session of the civic engagement workshop, Faiza Ali and Muhammad Khan, both political activists, focused on actual campaigns for justice and change that they themselves were involved in, which included: campaigning to add Eid to the public school holiday calendar and campaigning against airline discrimination of Muslims.

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In the afternoon workshop, Hersh Parekh, a lawyer and Queens Community Liaison for New York State Governor Cuomo’s office, discussed the importance of getting involved in the political process and voting.  Hanif Yazdi, an urban planner in training, discussed how the world around us represents value choices that politicians, institutions and structures have all made at one point to create the urban space we see before us.

SAYA’s young men were engaged, related their own experiences and asked important questions.  They men brought up topics surrounding the (non)availability of halal food in school and issues with public transit. Afterwards, the young men discussed how they really now understood their ability to get involved in the political process and their understanding of urban planning concepts such as walkability.

For the session around creating a growth mindset, youth participated in an interactive and entertaining workshop where they learned how to express themselves and gain confidence with the help of their words.  Spoken word artist and activist Messiah Ramkissoon led the workshop and did a wonderful job engaging the youth and having them express themselves through poetry, spoken word and rap.

SAYA Middle Schoolers get Matched with High School Mentors

Mentee Luis, Grade 7 at OWN Charter School and Co-Mentors Ronnie and Shormi of SAYA Elmhurst Center

Mentee Luis, Grade 7 at OWN Charter School and Co-Mentors Ronnie and Shormi of SAYA Elmhurst Center

BY SHORMI, GRADE 11

Mentoring at the Our World Neighborhood Charter School is an amazing experience. Middle school is a tough time for all preteens, it's when they start to discover more about themselves and the world around them. Meeting these kids reminds me of my middle school experience, and forces me to remember the person I was in middle school. Aware of how much of a struggle being a preteen can be, mentoring these kids is really fulfilling.

Knowing that they are part of this program because they want someone to talk to and hang out with makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile and meaningful. Mentoring doesn't feel like a chore, it feels more like an opportunity. I feel that me and my mentee Luis were a smart match. We have many things in common, like our interests in art and anime. It was cool because these factors definitely built a better connection between us.

SAYA Visits the Constitution Museum

BY DOLMA, SADIKA, AND SAMAR, GRADE 11

We visited the Constitution Museum after our tour of Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania.  The first thing we noticed were the flags of each of the 50 states strung from the ceiling.  Our tour group tried to identify as many states as we could; we did not know as many as we had hoped!  We saw a miniature model of the White House which gave us a bird’s eye view of this national monument and put into perspective how complex it really is.  Our group enjoyed best the interactive digital exhibit that allowed us to select any national constitution and read from it.  Each of us read the constitution of our native country, which included Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tibet.  There were also exhibits that showcased the darker side of our history, including the pro-slavery south and the formation of the KKK.  It was an important reminder that despite the positive values of the US Constitution, there is still potential for serious civil conflict.

SAYA Youth Explore Pennsylvania Colleges on Spring Overnight Trip

As part of our college access programming, we take our juniors on a three-day college trip every spring.  This year we went to Philadelphia where we visited Haverford College, Lafayette College, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University. The trip was planned so as to include a range of institutions like a small private liberal arts college as well as a diverse urban commuter school.  Youth need exposure to a broad spectrum of options to determine all the factors that should influence their decisions and which ones matter most to them personally.  For example, learning about diversity on a particular campus (or the lack thereof) heavily impacts students' decision making processes.  In addition to the five colleges we visited, youth had time to relax at a local skating rink and visit the Constitution Museum, both of which were welcome interruptions to a packed campus tour.

From Personal to Powerful: SAYA’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference 2016

BY LOVIENA, GRADE 11

The young women’s conference was very informational in that it gave us tools to develop and express ourselves through art. We were taught how to turn our experiences into something meaningful. Whether good or bad, our experiences make us who we are and we can use them to open our minds to the creative world. We were introduced to amazing people who shared their stories as well as different ways to turn our experiences into art.

Rinku Sen, the executive director of Race Forward, spoke to us about her work regarding race issues and about how people can take effective action toward racial equality. Sen gave us several helpful tips to express ourselves through writing. Her work is very inspirational and it motivates us as young women to create something that has the power to change lives.

The performance art workshop helped us understand how the experience of loss can transform into a greater understanding about living in this world. Riti Sachdeva and her colleagues showed us how we can grow from a bad experience such as: failure, rejection or loss. We were given time to perform a piece about one of those experiences through performance art techniques using time, rhythm, object, song and movement. We learned a lot from this because we realized that a bad experience is not the end; we learn from it and become a better person.

The poetry workshop was very enlightening because Sharmin Hossain and her colleagues taught us how to create poetry envisioning liberation in ourselves and our communities. We learned reflective exercises that will help us find creative solutions to our oppression. We were also given techniques to help us move through grief, cope with stress and practice self-care for trauma and depression. This workshop helped us face our problems and deal with them in creative ways instead of letting them negatively affect us mentally.

In the photography and storytelling work shop we learned basic photography concepts and how we can use images to tell stories. Neha Gautam shared with us how she brings visibility to the South Asian diaspora in and around Queens, New York through documentaries. Through her and her colleagues, we learned useful photography techniques and also got to practice them.

Chitra Ganesh, a Brooklyn based artist, shared a few of her works with us and gave a very motivational closing speech about her experiences and what her art means. Her drawings, installations, text based work and collaborations focus on narratives typically absent from history, literature and art. Her work exposes the reality of everything that we don’t want to talk about and don’t want to accept. Ganesh’s remarks were an inspiration to creatively document the untold truth in ways that the world will accept it.

SAYA Youth Assist with Participatory Budgeting in Brooklyn and Queens

Courtesy of NYC Council Member Brad Lander's Office

Courtesy of NYC Council Member Brad Lander's Office

SAYA youth have played an exciting role in New York City Council’s Participatory Budgeting this year. Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It enables residents above the age of 14 to have a voice in community improvement projects. It gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process.

On Thursday, March 31, our fifth graders at PS 230 encouraged parents and community members to vote at mobile voting stations at the end of the school day and after an evening talent show. It was an extremely successful community engagement effort with great turnout, especially among women. Our fifth graders at PS 230 in Brooklyn learned about participatory budgeting earlier this year with the help of staff from NYC Council Member Brad Lander’s office, in whose district PS 230 is located.  

Courtesy of NYC Council Member Brad Lander's Office

Courtesy of NYC Council Member Brad Lander's Office

Youth attending SAYA’s co-ed ARISE leadership programming canvassed in the community and encouraged people to vote in Forest Hills, Queens on Saturday, April 2. High school freshman and sophomores in ARISE focus on civic engagement and advocacy. Youth had learned about the participatory budgeting process through a visit from a staff member from NYC Council Member Karen Koslowitz’ office.

 

SAYA Youth Learn All About Different Professions and Paths

BY AFNan, GRADE 11

SAYA’s Career Exploration Day was my first real experience at a career fair with many different industries. My initial thoughts were that we would just go to different people promoting their own careers. The event, however, proved to be different. SAYA staff organized it into different sessions where panelists by and large came from the same general field, but held different jobs and positions. This made it easier to learn about different jobs within an industry. Hearing from the panelists provided me with insight on many different careers and jobs, some that I had no knowledge of. I personally want to get an MBA, but I do not know in what area just yet. SAYA’s Career Exploration Day helped me in attaining knowledge of Finance, piquing my interest particularly in Investment Banking. I would say that the event was a great success because it has ignited a new interest and new goals for me personally.

BY WASEER, GRADE 11

From my participation in SAYA’s Career Exploration Day, I learned a great deal about possible career options in a bevy of different fields, most notably from the medical/life sciences, STEM, and startup panels. From the medical and life sciences panel, we were introduced to those who held traditional jobs such as doctors and physicians assistants, but also to other professions within that field such as informational engineers, clinical laboratory technologists etc. Moreover, the STEM panelists were another group of professionals who provided most interesting background stories and unique ways of using their formal training to lay the groundwork for their current occupations. Most of the panelists were formally trained as engineers, but after a series of internships and working with multiple companies, they decided to either pursue graduate school, or apply their learned skills to different areas, to best fulfill their interests. One recurring idea was that whatever major you choose in college, you are not bounded indefinitely to that one career choice; you have the ability to utilize your learned skills and apply them to a variety of other fields. Through my participation in SAYA’s Exploration Day and other events in the past, my career trajectory is being further refined. I have acquired a clearer sense of what I may choose to pursue at my post-secondary institution and, most importantly, I had the opportunity to learn something I would not have otherwise.

 

SAYA’s Desi Young Women Serve Meals and Groceries to Neighbors at the Masbia Soup Kitchen in Rego Park

BY LATISHA, GRADE 11

I went to the soup kitchen with about 20 other girls. When I got there, it was very crowded, and I was frantically being sent upstairs and down. Confused, not knowing what to do with myself, I decided to start distributing bags of food to people. As I gave each person their own bag full of food, they had the brightest smiles on their faces. It made me feel so happy to see these smiles because I knew that I was doing something good. They looked like normal people that I see everyday; some even looked like me. This experience helped with my leadership skills as well as my patience. The soup kitchen was very crowded and loud, but the experience was fun and different. I can't wait to go back, because not only did I help people, they helped me as well. 

BY ISABELLE, GRADE 11

I had a great experience at the soup kitchen. Initially, I felt kind of upset because the person in charge kept telling us to work faster. However, by the end, I started to enjoy myself more mostly because we were working faster and more efficiently. I realized that in the beginning, I was scared to shout the orders because I did not want to be disrespectful. But, by the end, I was helping with the groceries while shouting the orders so it could be faster. 

 

SAYA Goes to Smith College

BY FATEHA, GRADE 11

Smith College is an all women's school in Northampton, Massachusetts. After a four-hour drive, we finally arrived and got off the bus to explore. I realized that the campus was very peaceful since the neighborhood is suburban and very beautiful. Being a city girl, I wasn't used to being in a place that was very quiet with no buses and cars around. One of the things that interested me the most was the fact that the dorms were located in houses. Each house has at least 40 students, and the maximum number is 60. Once you are a sophomore you get to have a room all to yourself which I thought was awesome! Also the fact that you get to study abroad and bring along your financial aid package was a bonus which is rare in most colleges.  Being in a college with all women felt very empowering as everyone is very friendly and open to one another. This was a very diverse community and the experience was amazing as I got to realize what I want in a college and what I don't.

SAYA Youth have Fun with Math

On January 14, 2016, SAYA youth from Our World Neighborhood Charter School visited the Museum of Mathematics. Our middle school students gained insight on the everyday uses of mathematics. They learned how math can be fun, interactive, and be used in designing solutions. One of their favorite activities involved learning how a bicycle with square wheels works better on a curvy road.

Desi Young Women's Professional Development Day at Deloitte

35 young women from SAYA woke up extra early on Saturday, December 13th, 2015 to attend our annual Professional Development Day at Deloitte. Since establishing this event three years ago, women at Deloitte have served as inspiring role models and mentors for young women at SAYA. 

During the opening panel, four Deloitte staff members shared their experiences as professional women of color working in the fast-paced consulting industry. They discussed their academic paths, college and internship experiences, and their struggles to figure out their career paths. 

During an engaging networking lunch, youth spoke one-on-one with Deloitte volunteers. They then rotated through three workshops, focusing on public speaking skills, networking skills, and resume writing. The young women ended the day feeling more confident in themselves and their ability to make their academic and professional dreams come true.  SAYA thanks all the amazing and dedicated Deloitte volunteers who make this event possible each year!

SAYA Goes to BuzzFeed

On November 18th and 19th, the NYC Buzzfeed Offices hosted SAYA!'s Young Women's Leadership Program for a fun and insightful mentoring panel. Four employees responded to the young women's personal, academic and career-related questions. Three of them were women of color who work in technology and data science at Buzzfeed, and the fourth works in Human Resources. They each shared the unexpected academic and career paths that led them to their current positions. They also gave great advice, such as encouraging the youth to try courses in college that make them feel uncomfortable, because college is the best time to take those risks and see if they may enjoy or be good at something they didn't realize before. For many of these panelists, this courageous risk-taking is exactly what them to where they are today.

The students were also deeply impressed by the unique culture at Buzzfeed: fun, innovative, and incredibly diverse. As a media company that aims to highlight the voices of underrepresented communities (such as women of color, immigrants and queer-identifying people), Buzzfeed's commitment to inclusion comes across clearly when you see the diversity of its employees. Given how male-dominated the technology industry can be, this trip was an eye-opening experience for our young women, many of whom want to study technology. Seeing other women who are succeeding in this field motivated them to reach their potential as well.

'Twas a Spooky Saturday at SAYA

TLC, Sherlock Holmes, and twitches (twin witches). Where else could you find South Asian youth dressed as pop icons, amine characters, fictional and nonfiction figures on a Saturday? Easy, SAYA’s Halloween party. High school students from across SAYA sites gathered at the Elmhurst Center for an afternoon filled with fun, food and, in the tradition of Halloween, sugar. 

Our high school students showed off their competitive sides between a few rounds of musical chairs, capture the ball, and a dance off. A cheetah against urban soul musicians TLC for capture the flag, Sherlock Holmes claiming a spot in musical chairs, and a dance-off between Maverick from Top Gun and Malala Yousafzai had the hours slip by before we knew it, 

Needless to say, it’s always a great time when our high school youth take a break from their usual social circles to join in on SAYA’s Halloween fun!