Five SAYA young women recently had their work displayed at the Museum of Chinese in America, as part of the 2018 OCA New York Asian Pacific American Advocates Hate Crimes Prevention Art Exhibit. This project calls attention to hate crimes in today’s society, and was created to empower diverse, local high school youth to use art as a tool to educate and combat these crimes. The contest is open to youth across the city, with a prize of $1,500 for the winner. These amazing and thought provoking works tackle this year’s theme of shifting blame from victims of hate crimes to holding perpetrators and systems accountable instead. The exhibit officially opened on August 9th, with all five SAYA artists in attendance.
From August 6-8th, SAYA youth visited five colleges in the Boston area: Boston University, Northeastern University, SUNY Purchase, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts Boston. Youth took tours of each campus, and learned about the offerings at each. This trip provided them the chance to visit schools they may otherwise not have been able to explore in person. Below are some highlights from their visit:
By Byron, 12th Grade
Boston University (BU) is a large campus located by the water, with roughly 16,000 students. The campus has a lot of open spaces where you can relax. Local landmarks include a rock that has been painted over several times by sororities and fraternities. We got to explore the various buildings that house different programs, including business and engineering. We learned how each program completes special projects, like the engineers who created a wristband to help study Parkinson's.
The college was also very lively with plenty of things to do. The gym included a lazy river and a hot tub, as well as a two story rock climbing wall. If physical activities aren't your thing, the food court might interest you more, with events like lobster night. We also got to explore one of the dorms. They were much larger than most college dorms - in fact BU has the second largest dorms in the U.S. Overall this college was a fun to explore, and I'm glad that we got to visit it.
By Puspita, 11th Grade
Northeastern’s campus was amazing! There were so many trees, art on the walls, and the architecture of the dorms was beautiful. Our tour guide was very informative and nice, and shared about her time working in Co-op. The Co-op program really interested me, and if I attend I would really like to do it. It’s unique to Northeastern, and provides students with a six month opportunity to gain experience in the workforce while getting paid! It’s a great way to figure out what jobs are right for you, and to make connections for life. I also liked the many opportunities available at Northeastern, such as studying abroad and choosing what field you want to do research in. I like the different types of clubs and sports you can join (and create!), and I’m happy to know that the academic advisors are helpful to students and care for them, which can be hard to find in college. The school’s diversity center was also very notable. As a person of color, I’m happy to know that there are safe spaces available where I can go to talk about problems, such as dealing with mental health and taking action to prevent racism.
By Sunjana, 12th Grade
SUNY Purchase is a small campus, with about 4,000 students. There is nature everywhere. They are a liberal arts college, so the school had a museum and a performing arts building, but they also have a lot of science labs. Because it is a small school, students are likely to be close with their professors and each other.
By Hamad, 11th Grade
Tufts University’s location was amazing. The campus was on top of a large hill, which meant there was a lot of going up and down stairs. I enjoyed getting so much exercise, but with Massachusetts’ harsh winters all that walking might be hard.
The academics at Tufts University were great. They are known for their STEM programming in engineering, and offer students a lot of research opportunities. Aside from STEM, their liberal arts programming is great, and they are known for their wonderful foreign relations program. Going to another country for a whole year would be so educational, and would provide self growth.
By Sam, 11th Grade
The University of Massachusetts Boston has one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. The view is breathtaking, but that wasn’t the only reason I loved this place. As someone who is interested in the field of Biology, the amount of labs this university has makes me excited and eager to attend. The size of the classes fits my learning style, and materials such as lectures given by professors are pre-recorded and posted online.
On Friday, July 27th, youth participating in our Summer programming visited the offices of Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm. This visit was organized by Zoomjodo, a career initiative for students and recent graduates. At Oliver Wyman, youth learned about the consulting industry as a whole, and the career opportunities open to them within it. Below are some reflections from those youth:
Going to Oliver Wyman was a phenomenal experience. They had a presentation prepared where they taught us about networking. I found that very interesting because, as rising seniors, we need to learn to communicate better with people around us to develop relationships. We also created an “elevator pitch,” which covers quick facts about ourselves that we would like to convey when meeting a new person. This is a helpful skill because soon we will start going on job interviews, and it’s important to have a foundation we can build on as the conversation proceeds. Finally, we had to work on a case, where a client dealt with declining revenue. We had to figure out why, and come up with solutions to fix the problem. The experience helped us to figure out what we would like to do in the future, and to reflect on ourselves.
Last Friday, we went to visit Oliver Wyman, which is an international management consulting firm with a large focus on banking and financial services. There we learned more about the firm, as well as the consulting as a career. After watching a presentation made by some of the consultants, we took part in an activity and had to solve a client scenario that consultants deal with a lot. This trip opened my eyes to a career that is often overlooked. Consultants work behind the scenes of companies, solving problems to help increase their clients’ profit. The visit made me understand the importance of thinking through all possible solutions to a problem, and then identifying the solution that works best. This trip was very enjoyable.
This trip was a fantastic experience. I learned so much new information! The people we met were really nice, and thoroughly explained what their job deals with. I found it very interesting that they complete so many projects and get to travel to many different places as part of their jon. It is a very complicated process to get a job like this, and you need a lot of internships and experience. But at the end, this kind of work is worth it.
On Saturday, July 14th, youth from our Young Men's Leadership Program attended the 2018 Gaming Devs of Color Expo. This day-long event featured panels and talks, with an expo hall filled with unique games made by creators of color. Below is a selection of photos and youth reflections from the event:
"This was a fabulous trip! It was my first time going to a convention, and was a breathtaking experience. I learned quite a bit from the presentation on how not to pitch an idea, and everyone listened and showed respect to the speakers. Afterward, playing the games was a fun experience and showed all the developers that we cared about their work. Everyone had fun - it was a great day". - Paul
"The GDOC Expo was an interesting experience. It allowed game developers of color to promote and share their games and experience in development. A lot of the developers used the culture they grew up in to design their games, which helped them to have more interesting stories and characters. My two favorite games were Zarvot and The Ultimate Clap Back." - Anesh
Two groups of fifth grade SAYA youth at PS 124 recently concluded courses that taught them STEM and the application of math and science outside of the classroom. The first group participated in a 17-week course on the architecture of skyscrapers. Thanks to a generous grant from Con Edison, 20 youth participated in the weekly class, the curriculum for which was provided by the Salvadori Center. Youth learned how to identify different designs and architectural elements present in skyscrapers and, for their final project, applied concepts such as proportion, scale, and building function to designing and constructing their own modular unit skyscraper.
The second group participated in a digital architecture course, provided in partnership with Marquis Studio. These youth learned what goes into the design and building of homes and robots, and how digital models are used in doing so.
Both groups recently presented their final projects to their peers and teachers at an end of year showcase. Below are some youth reflections from these courses, and photos from the skyscrapers class.
“This class was an amazing experience, and I would love to do it again. We learned how to make skyscrapers, and about length, width, volume, and scale. I loved our teacher.” - Emmanuella
“I learned that architects use 3D models to plan houses. We used different tools to build houses and robots, and math helped me so I knew what size everything had to be. Now I want to make and design toys when I grow up.” - Ethan
“The activities were a lot of fun and I got to learn a lot. I learned how to build a skyscraper using straws and jacks, and an area model. The teacher was a good instructor and she helped us when we needed it.” - Savanna
“It was fun and I liked making the robots and the beach house. It was fun and I got to learn about different things.” - Vianny
“I learned how to connect and work with my team members.” - Julie
On Saturday, June 9th, SAYA held a carnival-themed College Fair at our Elmhurst community center. The event welcomed approximately 50 high school youth, and hosted representatives from nine institutions: Adelphi University, The City College of New York, CUNY Staten Island, LaGuardia Community College, Barnard College, Hunter College, Kingsborough Community College, St. John’s University, and the Macaulay Honors Program at CUNY. The day began with a college fair, made up of nine school booths, followed by a panel featuring all attending representatives. Here SAYA youth were able to ask additional questions, ranging from school-specific to the application process in general. Thank you to all colleges who joined us!
Below are reflections from two youth attendees:
By Shams, 11th Grade
SAYA’s college carnival at the Elmhurst Center was no average college fair. It had all kinds of fun extras, and provided plenty of information about the many colleges that were there - Kingsborough Community College, Adelphi University, Hunter College, St. John’s University, and many more. The first half of the carnival allowed us to walk around and ask each college representative all kinds of questions, such as “What programs do you offer?” or “What are your requirements for the SATs?” After learning more about Adelphi University, I am very interested in their Digital Media and Arts Program. The program provides students with hands-on work experience for their future careers, rather than confining them to a classroom lecture. I was also interested to learn about their Summer Pre-College program for high school students. I really had a lot of fun learning about these schools, and I know others can say the same.
By Joshua, 10th Grade
The College Carnival was a really fun event! Students from 9th to 11th grade were able to meet with many CUNY colleges. For the first half, all the representatives had booths where they handed out pamphlets and spoke about the many highlights of attending each school. I liked this set-up, because it allowed us to mingle, joke, and talk with the representatives, instead of just reading a brochure. The second part of the carnival featured a panel with all of the representatives, where students had the chance to ask even more questions, helping us to decide what we’re looking for in a school and where we want to apply.
The whole carnival was fun and very informative. My favorite part was chatting and joking with the representatives while we visited each booth, and hearing their personal thoughts on their school. The atmosphere was comfortable and pleasant, which made learning these things much more fun. Before this, I was nervous about what to expect in college, because I’ve heard rumors about how hard it was to get in, and how expensive it can be. After the carnival, I feel much more at ease. Now I know a lot more about what these colleges are looking for, and the application requirements for each one. It was a great experience!
On Saturday, May 19th, SAYA hosted our annual Career Exploration Day, designed to expose our high school youth to a diverse range of professional paths, including those in the arts, business, finance, government, healthcare, law, nonprofit, and technology. The day began with team-building activities and career assessment tests for youth. Following these, they observed two panels, each featuring seven volunteers from different companies who shared their educational background and path to their current roles. Panelists also took numerous questions from youth. Thank you to everyone who joined us!
Nine middle schoolers in our program at Central Queens Academy (CQA) will be performing two scenes from the musical The Lion King, on Saturday, May 19th. The show will be held at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. This exciting opportunity was offered to 900 Comprehensive After School System of NYC (COMPASS) programs through the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD). SAYA sent in an audition tape of our youth, and was thrilled to learn that ours is one of only nine programs selected to participate in this DYCD on Broadway event.
Rehearsals have been in full swing for the past several weeks - a few highlights from some of these practice sessions are below. We are so proud of our youth!
From April 5th - 8th, FIRST New York City hosted the 2018 New York City Regional, a robotics tournament that celebrates students' work in science and technology. The event was held at The Armory Track & Field Center in Manhattan, hosting 51 teams from the New York tristate area, Turkey, United Kingdom, Brazil, and China. The SAYA Robotics team at Richmond Hill High School competed, placing 7th out of 51! Below are some highlights from the day.
In early April, SAYA took 39 high school sophomores and juniors to Philadelphia to visit several colleges. During the trip, youth took tours and listened to talks at Franklin & Marshall College, St. Joseph’s University, Swarthmore College, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania. The trip, which lasted three days and two nights, provided SAYA youth the chance to see and experience several schools that they otherwise may not have visited on their own.
By Kathy, 11th grade
What I like about Temple is how comfortable the campus seems. Because it’s set in an urban area, students have access to the city and many activities that aren’t directly involved with the university. After speaking with members of the school’s Diversity Center, I learned that Temple works hard to build understanding among the student body. I also learned that Temple has many resources for students who are struggling academically, or aren’t as advanced as others. They provide lots of support options for students who need them. We also learned that Temple University began from nighttime tutoring sessions between a professor and several students, which is why the Temple mascot is the night owl.
I was really excited to hear that the Diversity Center offers students the chance to discuss and understand social issues happening on campus, which I think would make me feel safer and open to new ideas and opinions. And fun fact: the center prefers to call safe spaces “brave spaces,” because they believe that this terminology is a more fitting title.
By Laiba, 11th grade
It was great to visit the University of Pennsylvania, since I learned so much about the school that I would not have otherwise. For example, I learned that there are many different organizations across campus that are there to help students better understand the choices available to them, in terms of majors or internships. One group that we visited with was the Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC), which provided students a cozy house with a lounge and space to work, relax, or seek out advice. GIC was a great place for students from different cultures or backgrounds to mix and become friends. Hearing members speak about their own experiences, majors, and challenges was so interesting. One of the students spoke about how he initially came to college to build things, but soon decided to switch his major to electrical engineering. Since I am also interested in building things, hearing him helped me see that there are lots of different types of engineering majors that I can look into. Touring campus was interesting too, because of all the history that I learned, including the fact that Benjamin Franklin founded the school. This trip showed me that UPenn is a very interesting school that provides many different majors - I definitely want to apply when I get a chance.
By Byron, 11th grade
Our visit to Swarthmore was a very pleasant one. The college is a private liberal arts school, and I liked that the campus was so small and provided quick and easy access to all the buildings. In addition, the smaller number of students means that they have more one-on-one time with professors. On our tour, we saw many of the places we would spend our time if we attended, including the various libraries. We also had chance to explore the fine arts building, where all kinds of performances, from dance to theater, are held.
One thing I enjoyed learning about the college was that they seriously encourages students to socialize, and not to only focus on academics (although it is a big part). The school even has a program that picks applicants at random and provides them $20 and a ticket to Philadelphia, so they can explore the city. They also didn't seem to shy away from helping their students find their desired programs, even if that meant sending them to another school.
The second part of our tour was meeting members of the Intercultural Center, and hearing all about what they do at Swarthmore. They explained to us how they organize events to help minority students become better adjusted, and spoke about their own experience and how finding this group helped them tremendously. As a person of color who lives in a very diverse area, I was a little shocked hearing about their experience. However, I appreciated this advice as I now have a better understanding of what to expect when I attend college, wherever I end up. I loved my experience touring this school, and I'm definitely going to apply.
Each year SAYA's Young Women's Leadership program at the Elmhurst Center participates in indoor rock climbing at The Cliffs in Long Island City. The purpose of this trip is to develop confidence, trust-building and teamwork skills by working through a series of challenging activities: belayed rock climbing on high walls, bouldering (climbing lower walls without a harness), and crate climbing (stacking and climbing crates to get as high as they can).
During this year's trip, peers supported each other verbally and emotionally as each youth faced her fears and took small steps towards overcoming the challenges. Each year, youth find that in the span of just two hours of rock climbing, they feel more confident and able to work through uncertainty and fear. This is an important and transferable skill that they can utilize in order to overcome academic, personal and professional challenges. Here is what some of them had to say:
"Rock climbing was a really great experience. It helped me look at life differently. I realized that you should try things that seem crazy and even very scary. Reaching the top was such an amazing feeling. I would definitely go again." --Sanjana, Grade 11
"The rock climbing trip was one that I highly enjoyed. I really loved the crate exercise. It was very fun and I enjoyed seeing that I could climb high. I also enjoyed this trip because it provided the Young Women's Leadership group with many skills such as being able to trust yourself and others. This trip was a great experience for me and my fellow peers." --Shraddha, Grade 11
"The rock climbing trip was really intense. As I walked inside, I saw so many people climbing so high, and I started freaking out. At first, I was scared to climb the walls, but slowly I started getting the hang of it. I felt so confident after climbing the rock walls. It was a memorable experience which helped me to boost my confidence." --Melissa, Grade 11
On February 28th, Big Ten held a college fair for all high school students at The Beacon School in Manhattan. As part of our college access programming, SAYA juniors attended the event in order to gain exposure to colleges, particularly out-of-state schools. Sixteen schools were present and youth were able to talk to admissions counselors about majors, graduation rates and cost of attendance and had the opportunity to pick up brochures for further information. Youth spoke to admission counselors from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, and came away from the event with a greater understanding of college options outside of New York. Here is what some of them had to say:
“It was a good experience because I got to view other schools and what they specialize in. It helped me pick a major!”--Gavindra
“This was an enlightening experience because now I know more about out-of-state schools.”--Amina
“It changed my mind on how I view colleges. By talking to admissions officers, I found out how fun college can be.”--Bisakh
By Joshua, Grade 10
On February 10th, my friends and I from ARISE, our coed leadership program at SAYA, saw an interesting art exhibit. We went to the Sean Kelly Gallery and met with the artist Frank Thiel. He has an exhibit called  Quince up at the gallery. We heard about where he grew up and the reason why he chose to photograph Quinceañeras in Cuba. We had the opportunity to question the different environments of the photograph that were taken. We observed that he liked different structures around the girls' neighborhood. It was a very empowering trip as we learned about the places that these girls lived in and brought a new perspective to the Latin tradition of moving into adulthood.
This year, SAYA held our very first College Success Young Professionals Mixer, hosted by Deloitte at 30 Rock in January. The purpose of the event was to provide our youth in college with the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with young professionals for career exposure and to build up their networking skills. With six different industries represented, youth "speed networked" by moving from table to table and gaining an understanding of different career paths within each sector. This provided them the platform to ask deliberate and specific questions on, for example, a day in the life of a consultant or a communications manager. The most valuable component of the day was our students learning how to initiate and conduct professional conversations in a setting outside of college.
Some of the youth who attended shared their thoughts with us after the event.
Labib: "The Mixer was better than career fairs because it was focused on 1:1 conversations. I got to meet with people more individually and understand what they do in a better sense. The people were personable and younger so they seemed more like me. It felt less like advising and more like talking."
Kerissa: "I found it so interesting that they were so direct about a job. From Daniel at Deloitte, I learned how to actually stand out in an interview. He was open about meeting up for coffee and going over skills. I learned that the first step is actually to approach people because 99% of the time, they will not say no."
Jimmy: "The mixer opened my eyes. It was great to receive insight into other industries. I really clicked with the consultant from McKinsey, Kishore. He gave me as much information as I asked for. I could see that he respected my questions so I felt like I was networking strategically. I feel that even though him and I are in different fields, I still gained useful skills."
By Tam, Second Year College Student
January 12th, 2018 was a rainy day. It was also the day of our trip to the headquarters of IBM in Astor Place. We walked through the downpour excited to see what it is like inside the workspace of a Fortune 500 company. We were not disappointed. I was personally in awe with the check-in gate where I had to dip in either an ID or a guest pass. It was in this moment that it finally clicked in my head: Wow, I am really inside a multi-billion dollar company.
We toured the office which was modern, sleek and well-designed. The space was intentionally open to encourage teamwork and communication and to inspire a friendly and collaborative work culture. As the tour went on, we were informed about the day-to-day activities of an employee at IBM, what kind of projects and challenges they tackle and what each of our tour guides like best about the company. We then participated in a Q&A panel with IBM staff and I felt that I learned a lot from them. Afterwards, we participated in an inspiring brainstorming workshop that focused on design thinking. I liked this activity particularly because it tackled creativity and mental blocks, things relevant to a college student. I am thankful to SAYA for providing me and my peers the opportunity to visit a company such as IBM, as well as the myriad of other opportunities and resources it provides to youths of all ages.
By Bisma, Grade 12
The first impressive thing about Deloitte were the views from the office windows. I had never seen a view like that outside of TV shows. Our first presentation was about personal branding, and I learned that personal branding just meant being sure of what it is that you want to do or be in life, but making sure you are flexible along the way. It was as simple as that. Throughout the day, as more presenters went up on stage, I realized something I really enjoyed about Deloitte was the range of personalities of the people who work there. Everyone there speaks of their job with passion and enjoyment, and not one person seemed upset about having to come in on a Saturday to talk to a group of high school students. The most helpful part of the day was when we talked about interview skills, I hadn’t realized that small factors such as foot tapping or fidgeting actually said a lot to the interviewers. The Deloitte trip was a great experience because we all got to witness adults talking about a job they love with a company they love, something that I feel many of us aspire to have in the future.
In October, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a Teens Take the Met event, which allowed youth to take over the museum for an evening. Youth had the chance to participate in art making, witness performances, explore galleries and more!
By Amina & Shraddha
Going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with SAYA was an amazing experience for me. I learned so much about my peers and had such a good time exploring the Met with them. Going to the Met allowed us to experience and learn about art, not just look at it. The museum was filled with history and culture of the world. It was entertaining to do all the activities that they had planned for teens. Me and my friends especially enjoyed making buttons and tote bags, it was a good way to express ourselves because we could write or draw whatever we wanted on them. It was a great way to show our beliefs and experiences in life. The Met was also enlightening because it exposed us to the other teen events happening all around New York City. We will definitely go back to Teens take the Met.
The trip the museum was an amazing experience. It was first time I took the coach bus with SAYA and when we got to the museum it was so cool. We had the chance to see Chinese and European artifacts and sculptures. I also made buttons and a clay sculpture. Some of my friends made handbags with their own sayings on it. It was so much fun!
Richmond Hill High School (RHHS) kicked off the fall semester with their annual Community Night at the end of September. This event brought together over 800 participants and included visits from RHHS SAYA alumni, a resource fair featuring a number of special interest and community partner tables, and dinner. Attendees had the opportunity to explore different displays including a community school table with SAYA staff and leadership students, a college and career zone with SAYA staff and RHHS guidance counselors and a wellness section led by the Child Center of New York. Youth enjoyed interacting with the robotics table and the RHHS robot, “Qubit,” led by RHHS staff and members of SAYA’s robotics club.
Early in October, RHHS had a college financial aid night, attended by approximately 150 students and parents. This event focused on preparing youth and their families to apply for financial aid. This year, the event took place early in the academic year, helping to ensure youth and families were informed about the process before applying to college. Topics included everything from the FAFSA and FSA IDs to income tax information and immigration services. Overall, these events were well-attended and great ways to start off a productive academic year!
Yvessey, Rising 10th grader
The Museum of Food and Drink is an incredible place. It is small, but that is the beauty of it. There are two sections with a lot of interactive activities which teach about Chinese American food. We learned that due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese restaurants were the only businesses that Chinese people could run. These store owners had to make food that appealed to Americans, causing Chinese food to become Americanized. Also, we were able to make our own origami fortune cookies, smell different scents and learn how to flip a wok.
Omer, Rising 9th grader
My experience to spotify headquarters was very informative and very fun. They told us about their roles and how they expand the company to different countries for more people to listen to music. They also took us on a tour around the building and showed us where their work spaces were, in addition they took us to the cafeteria. They also took us to the game room and showed us where they had parties, which was on the roof. One of my favorite parts was when we got the chance to ask the employees any questions we had about Spotify. Going to Spotify headquarters was very cool.
Daisy, Rising 9th grader
Visiting Spotify might have been one the most enjoyable and entertaining trips this summer. At first, I thought of it as boring until I actually arrived at the place. It was interesting to find out all the different roles, how everyone has a special job and how the employees bond. It might not sound like much, but it makes you realize how going to such trips can be pleasant.