SAYA Young Men Take a Trip to Madame Tussauds


On February 21 the SAYA young men’s group went to the Madame Tussauds wax museum in Manhattan near Times Square. Honestly, it was a great time. For someone who does not visit the city very often, being able to visit was a fun experience. During the trip we got to see many iconic figures as wax statues and we took a lot of photos. After the wax museum we walked around the city for a while trying to decide where to eat. When we finally found a place and started eating, the crew began discussing various topics and we really got to know and understand each other. Thanks to the trip we were able given to learn and bond. I feel the opportunity to go to this trip provided me with a better sense of community and fellowship. Being able to travel to the city with my peers really expanded my horizons. I felt honored to have been able to attend with the group.

SAYA Young Women Visit Cooper Hewitt

During the Spring Semester, SAYA’s Desi Young Women’s Leadership Program took a trip to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. On this Saturday excursion, youth explored the By the People: Designing a Better America exhibition and chose which designs spoke to them. This exhibition demonstrated over 60 designs seeking to address issues of social and economic inequality within the country. Design ideas ranged from simple marketing techniques with the intention of making consumers think about everyday products in a different way, to entire community structures designed to specifically accommodate the demographics present in the area. After taking in this part of the museum and discussing the ideas that the group found interesting, SAYA youth had the opportunity to try their hand at designing their own solutions at the Process Lab. In the Process Lab, visitors to the museum choose values that are important to them, such as education or diversity, and combine these values with design tactics to create ideas that answer questions such as “how might we increase access to healthy food?” or “how might we encourage people to read?”After working on individual designs, creators can compare their combination of values, design tactics and question to be answered with ideas created by past museum-goers. Overall, the trip demonstrated the power of creative thinking and innovative design in tackling some of today's most pressing social issues. 

SAYA Visits Facebook



On February 22nd SAYA’s Young Men and Young Women’s Leadership classes took a day trip to the NYC Facebook offices. This was an opportunity for us, as high school students, to explore our options for careers in the future, specifically at Facebook. The office environment was open, technological and people-friendly. The highlight of the trip, for me, was the interactive discussion we had with Facebook employees. We talked about their company and what they each do, as well as today’s society and the use of social media in the future. Speaking for my fellow peers, I would say, we were able to relate with the Facebook team on many aspects.

I was able to take away a number of things from this trip. Such as. social media should be used for a purpose that is positive and beneficial for others and even the world’s biggest social ground is still learning, like us. I also learned more about Facebook’s privacy settings. Social media is an opportunity for our voices as one whole community to change the world by a click of “like”, a “comment”, or a “share”. So use it wisely! Facebook is just one of our many canvases and we are all painters.

SAYA Alumni Ice Skating Event

In an effort to maintain and grow our alumni network, SAYA hosted our winter alumni event at the City Pavilion Ice Skating Rink in Queens. With a healthy turnout of 20 of our college enrolled alums, SAYA staff had the opportunity to re-engage with their former participants. Our students were visibly elated to be in each other’s presence again as a cohort. Tam, a first year honors student at CUNY Baruch remarked, “it was a fun time seeing old faces, hanging out with my friends and being reminded of why I came to SAYA: the fellowship and the opportunity to share and be open”. After two hours on the ice, we all returned to the Elmhurst Center for lunch and discussion. Students introduced themselves, the college they attend, and their intended major. SAYA staff had each student describe the highlights and challenges of their Fall semester.  It was encouraging for each student to hear that they were not alone in some of their fears and anxieties. The alumni exchanged tips to overcome the hurdles they faced and celebrated each other for their successes. As SAYA builds its alumni network, we will host seasonal events similar to this one.

Reflection on the Play ReconFigured


On January 6th, some ARISE, DYW and DYM students went to see the play "ReconFigured" at The Tank in Manhattan. The play "ReconFigured" was a great play! After seeing it, it made me realize that many people can have many different personal struggles that some wouldn't think of. Some examples of these struggles are being treated differently after becoming a transgender, coping with a miscarriage, and having a family that looks different from you. Another thing I likes about this play is that it was as humorous as it was touching. Some scenes, such as "Menopause" and "Poop" provided comic relief from other scenes that were more emotional.

SAYA Youth Visit DAG Modern Art Gallery


On December 17, the students of Desi Young Men (DYM) attended a trip to the DAG Modern art gallery in Manhattan. Upon arrival, we were quickly greeted by Sunil Chaddha , who gave us a tour of some of the art that the gallery had to offer from their "Art of Bengal" exhibit. After the tour, students were given time to explore the gallery for themselves. Many of us, including myself, found the art, the use of different art styles such as cross-hatching and fauvism, and the backstories behind each piece of art, interesting. Afterwards, we sat and had a group conversation with Sunil, where we learned about his art background, his many career changes, and his interest in art. When we left, not only did I appreciate the art of a different culture more, but I also walked away learning more about the history of Bengal and India.

Holiday Card Making at MS 172

This December, the students of MS 172's Desi Young Women's Leadership class all enjoyed a seasonally festive holiday card-making activity. Equipped with an ample supply of colorful stickers, stamps, glitter-glue, markers, glitter-pens, crayons and pencils, the young women were able to transform blank cards and envelopes into masterpieces of their own. Each student was given the assignment to make an entirely unique card with a special message for another student, and were later offered the opportunity to make another card for a family member or friend. While some students chose to brainstorm acrostic poems utilizing their classmates' names, others decided to write witty jokes in their holiday card messages--either way, they were all able to channel their inner artist and celebrate the holidays with this heart-warming activity. 

SAYA Youth Attend Town Hall Discussion



Like most youths at SAYA, I was excited for the town hall organized by Chaaya, as it was a trip, but I was unsure of what it would be like. I knew that it would focus on recent events, specifically the election, and how those events impacted the immigrant community. I expected it to be a relatively small gathering in which things I have heard before would be repeated. However, I was surprised by the amount of people who attended and learned quite a lot about the effects of the election and how, as an ordinary member of the community, I could help out.

Comptroller Stringer, Senator Jose Peralta, and four panelists discussed the fear and confusion resulting from the election, specifically regarding the 31% increase in hate crime. Comptroller Stringer and Senator Peralta discussed the need to create a firewall for what we are willing to accept from our leaders, NYC’s status as a sanctuary city, and the importance of immigrants to the community. The panelists discussed immigrants’ rights, the legal steps an immigrant should take in response to the election, and how an immigrant should respond to an ICE agent. In addition, a panelist discussed how to help anyone who is being verbally harassed or targeted. I found this to be the most useful as it allows everyone, including youths, to not be just be bystanders.

The most moving part of the town hall, however, was when attendees of the event spoke about their own fears and experiences. I was struck by how much the election and its aftermath affects their lives. I realized that as a young female of colour, it affects me as well. In my mind, this strengthened the importance of community leaders and reiterated the overall message of working as a community to see positive changes in the world in which we live. I am grateful for the organizations that hosted the town hall and the opportunity to go to it through SAYA.


SAYA Youth Learn about Consulting and Resume Writing at Deloitte

By Rifaeat, GRADE 11 

At first I was very reluctant to go on the Deloitte trip because I didn’t think that it would benefit me. However, when I got there my mind was very quickly changed. Deloitte ended up teaching me and helping me with many things. During the first half of our visit we had one-on-one talks with members of Deloitte about our resumes. I didn’t bring a resume, but even then I was able to talk for nearly an hour with someone who gave me valuable information and talked about what should and shouldn’t be on my resume. I was shown a resume that looked perfect, but the Deloitte speaker was able to point out mistakes and things that could have been improved. It was very easy to relate to them since they were people like us who had no idea what they wanted to be and didn’t instantly know what they wanted to do. They went to college, worked on resumes and had first hand experience of success and failure of their own. The advice and suggestions given to me by Deloitte will definitely stick with me and help me in making my own resume when I need to.

Another thing we did was something called “Shark Tank.” They gave us a problem and in groups of four, we had to create a solution. Our guide, Iram, helped us out a lot with the problem and we were able to create a presentation in a short amount of time. The “Shark Tank” activity showed us a real world situation that could likely happen, gave us valuable experience and helped a lot of people who didn’t like public speaking. The activity was very valuable in many ways and as someone who hates public speaking, the “Shark Tank: activity helped me get over that by forcing me to speak to everyone in a group alongside other people that were shy. I had to step up and try and keep the presentation together, and apparently I did just that according to the judges.

The Deloitte trip was something I wasn’t excited about, but after I experienced it, I’m very glad I went. I don’t think I’ve had a trip that has really been of value to me like this trip. The advice given to me will always be in my head ready to be used, and of course thanks to the Deloitte employees I was able to get a much better understanding of what consultants do. They really amazed me with their dedication and hard work, both the trip and the volunteers that came to help us really did just that, I’m sure there isn’t a single SAYA student who walked out saying the trip was boring or useless.

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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.