SAYA Team Excels at NYC Robotics Tournament

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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.

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SAYA Youth Visit 5 Colleges in the Philadelphia Area


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.

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SAYA Youth Scale Walls and Fears through Rock Climbing


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


SAYA Represents at Big Ten College Fair


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

SAYA Youth Visit Frank Thiel Exhibit at Sean Kelly Gallery


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 [15] 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.


SAYA College Success: Young Professionals Mixer


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." 


SAYA Youth in College Learn about Design Thinking at IBM


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.

Annual SAYA Deloitte Day


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.

SAYA Teens Take the Met


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.

By Shahid
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 Kicks Off the Fall Semester

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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. 

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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! 

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Trip to Museum of Food and Drink


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.

SAYA Youth Visit Spotify


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.

End of Summer Billiards Trip


By Fariba

Our SIPS end of summer trip was to BQE Billiards. SIPS is the coed leadership group for rising high school Seniors. For most of us, this was our first time playing pool. At first, I could barely maneuver the pool stick properly to get a strong hit. But after three hours of practicing, I definitely got the hang of it. My friends and I played game after game, and the excitement never seemed to go away. As we lost and won several games, we all figured that billiards was now our favorite game. We also played air hockey and ping-pong which was very enjoyable but, I really loved playing pool. Furthermore, the food was great. We had hot wings, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and fries. 

Overall, the trip was very enjoyable mainly because it was with some of the best people that I've ever met. We all had become great friends after spending six weeks with each other in the SIPS program at SAYA. This trip for the last day of the program was a great way to say goodbye for the summer. We had so much fun and I know that I definitely want to go back at some point. 

Visit to Worcester State University

By Stephano and Araya

From July 26-July 28, 2017 we attended a college visit trip provided to us by SAYA, in order to ascertain and examine which colleges and Universities we may want to go to and what they look like, including their standards and locations. We attended multiple universities, but one of the most interesting ones was Worcester University, showing much promise in multiple fields and our interests. On our trip we learned many facts about the university and its features. “Worcester State University has a variety of clubs and communities, with over 35 and counting.” To us, it seemed like a very interesting, beautiful and impressive place to commence studying our majors. 

Locations and the City’s Background
-Parking all around school grounds
-In and out of state tuition: +21k including housing
-Focused mostly on Arts and Sciences, with specialties in Medicine and Computer Science
-Located in Worcester
-Offers Bachelor's and Master's degrees
-Acceptance rate: 69%
-A Public school in Massachusetts
-Diverse student population
-Student dormitories located on campus; along with therapists and counseling

-Library contains a Starbucks cafe and lounge room
-If you are part of the Honors Classes or Programs, you are allowed the opportunity to have lunch with President and main figures of the University

Sullivan Academic Center 
-Is the main building of the University, and is a study department offering education in: Math, Liberal arts and literature, Law and legal issues
-Financial aid classes
-Contains an office where a college campus card may be bought that is used to pay for stuff on campus or pay bills

Worcester State University Career & Majors Choices
-Science and technology majors (Doctors, medicine, computer science)
-Students given access to Art gallery for free and allowed to post art.
-Labs: clinic skills, ADL, sensor-lab
-A Communication disorder center and training.
-Nursing department complete with its own office and robots to practice and improve students skills.
-Professional training and classes for therapy majors.
-Design courses in the fields of fashion.

The Wellness and Athletics Center
-New building, opened last September, and includes an indoor high tech gym
-2 floors
-50% of all power from the generators at the University provided from students working out on the cardio equipment
-Yoga, dance and self defense for men and women
-A lounge room
-National teams
-No swimming clubs or pools, but there is a YMCA downtown
Dowden Hall
-Only freshman
-Convenience store
-Living room
-Traditional style
-Boys wing, girls wing
-Study room
-Room comes with own dresser, desk, bed, closet
-Has single rooms and double rooms 

Sheahan Hall
-Main dining hall
-2 pool tables and table soccer
-Gorgeous view of the field
-Includes multiple delis, kitchens, hotline and salad bars and my favorite, an ice cream station

Chandler Village
-Only has upper class students
-Much like an apartment
-Has a fountain nearby and lots of beautiful scenery

SAYA Youth Visit 5 Colleges in the Boston Area

Each year, SAYA high school youth have the opportunity to attend two overnight college trips, one in the spring and one in the summer. This summer, 37 youth participated in the overnight trip to the Boston area and explored Amherst College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Wheaton College and Worcester State University. 

By Rifaeat, 12th grade

Tufts University is a lush, green campus that is open and large. It has a lot of space to breathe and was by far one of the best colleges I’ve visited. The info session was filled with valuable advice and information about both applying to college as well as Tufts. It is a full need met college, which is a great opportunity for many students that visited Tufts University and it gives everyone a chance. Tufts does not look heavily upon grades, rather it looks on both grades as well as things you do outside of the classes. Extracurricular activities, college essays and anything outside of school look great. This university gives everyone a chance knowing that grades don’t make up a person as a whole. Along with this, Tufts is a very social college that encourages you to live on campus for the first two years to get to know the university and its students and be social and actively involved within the college. It’s a perfect college for students like me and many others that went on the trip with me. When you’re in the college, you have a variety of options as the university has over 100 majors and minors to choose from. Not many colleges stand out to me, but Tufts definitely piqued my interest and I’m glad I was able to have the chance to visit it.

By Jeff, 12th grade
It was time to leave Tufts University before heading out to the next college. By that time, I was exhausted, I wanted to go back to the hotel and the rain really didn’t help set the mood. We started walking to an entrance. It was just plain and dull, nothing really exciting. Seconds later, I was flabbergasted. The university looked as something from a sci-fi movie, it was so high tech. shortly after, the tour guides came out and welcomed us to Northeastern University.

The tour guides showed me around the campus, and it was enormous. Right off the bat, I was interested in exploring, and I didn’t mind pushing my tired body that had already gone through enough walking for one day, to go just a bit more further. The tour guides also showed me a dorm and it was a decent size, unlike the other colleges I visited on my trip. The tour guides also told me that students are required to dorm at the university for two years, to make students feel welcomed and part of a community.

My heart had already been set on attending Hofstra University. Their Computer Science program offers a co-op program that gives students the ability to take an internship at a big company like Google or Apple for a semester. As the tour guides were talking about liberal arts, I was looking around at the size of the building. Suddenly, I hear “we have a co-op program” I looked up and to my amazement, Northeastern University offers the same program that I one day would like to join. I fell in love with the campus, the technology, the dorms--it was a wonderful experience. When the tour was done and it was time to leave, I was bummed. I still wanted learn so much more.  As the bus started moving away, I said to myself, “this is the college I want to apply to.”

By Shiwani, 12th grade
When I first heard about Northeastern University I thought of it as a city school that had no
campus life. But after visiting the school I realized that there was a better campus life than the
ones in New York City. The location of the university made it feel like home because of the city
upbringing I had. Along with that, they offered a Co-op Program which gave students internships in the fields they wanted to practice. This was really important because if I was unsure about a career, I could get the real-life experience in the field. I would consider this university as one of my top 5 choices.

By Hirakh, 12th grade
Wheaton College is private liberal arts school located in Norton, Massachusetts, 39 miles away from Boston. When I arrived at the school, I saw a very spacious campus with a lot of greenery. For a small college I was surprised with the amount of space they possessed. The admission rate in the college is very low, making the college essay an important part of the application. I think that a student looking for a small friendly environment to be in would have Wheaton College on their list. They also offer a variety of study abroad programs for their students. They highly encourage their students to study abroad as it brings new experiences in a different countries. The students in the college are friendly and respectful making the campus a welcoming place for incoming freshmen.

SAYA Youth Explore Asia Society Museum's South Asian Diaspora Art Exhibit

By Omar, 12th grade

SAYA took a trip to the Asia Society Museum to see the Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora exhibit. After visiting the Museum I was pleasantly surprised by how different every piece of art was and the diversity of the artists themselves. What stood out to me most was Anila Quayyum Agha’s "Crossing Boundaries". Hanging from the ceiling was a cube with a design which was carved into it through the use of lasers, which closely resembled designs used in mosques and stained glass in churches. There is also a light in the middle of the cube which projects an image across the room. Agha began creating this type of art after her mother died and it is called "Crossing Boundaries" due to the fact that growing up in Pakistan, women generally don't go to mosques for prayer. So she made this to symbolize a space where everyone is welcome. Agha's son got married around the same time her mother passed away so this intricate design carved into steel symbolizes dealing with a tough and good moment at the same time. This was my favorite art piece throughout the entire exhibit and I thoroughly enjoyed the museum as a whole.  

By Abdul, 12th grade

I along with members of the Young Men's Leadership group traveled to the upper east side last week to explore the Asia Society Museum. It was a great experience to see all the pieces of art that represented Asia as a whole. The diversity of the artwork was something that I really appreciated. Although the amount of art was nothing compared to a museum such as the Museum of Moving the Image, I still felt that the various pieces of art were very appealing. One piece that caught my eye was the “Emperor of No Country” done by Jaret Vadera. It expressed the idea of how, before the world split up literally and metaphorically, we were all one without any dictator or ruler. All names of places in the world were crossed out which I personally thought was a simple but clever thing to do. Overall the exhibition was intriguing. 

SAYA's 4th Annual Young Women's Leadership Conference: Culture Con 2k17

By Sabrina, 11th grade

On Saturday May 20th, 2017 Culture Con 2K17: Embracing our Experiences, Shaping our Identities took place at SAYA. This event was a result of two months of hard work by SAYA’s Desi Young Women's Leadership group. We learned how to organize and facilitate every detail of the conference. 

The day started off with registration and breakfast, followed by our empowering keynote speaker Sayu Bhojwani, who is also the founder of SAYA. She spoke about her immigrant experience and the importance of contributing to the cultures around us. 

Next, the breakout workshops took place. The three workshops were:
Is it Appropriate?: Cultural Stereotyping and Appropriation
Beauty is not a Duty: Women, Gender and Culture
Third Culture Kids: Sharing and Creating Culture

Participants got to choose which two workshops they wanted to attend. I was a catalyst in both sessions of Beauty is not a Duty, which meant that I helped the facilitators run the workshop by engaging with the other participants. It was an empowering experience being able to provide my insight on my personal ideals of beauty, interacting with other young women and each of us brainstorming ideas and sharing our opinions. We also had the opportunity to produce drawings that portray our personal philosophies of beauty.

Lisha, Loviena, Briana, and Liset were the facilitators of this workshop. They were extremely energetic and confident. In the first session, we discussed the hazards of an individual becoming too obsessed with their appearance to the extent that it affects other life goals. Briana provided an example of how one of her friends would not leave the house without her false eyelashes, and it even affected her academics. Participants gave their own examples and facilitators distinguished between healthy and unhealthy practices. For example, getting gastric bypass surgery or losing weight for the primary purpose of better health, versus gastric bypass surgery or losing weight due to societal pressure and body image disorder. 

In the second session, we started off with an icebreaker, which was introducing ourselves to someone we don’t know. The girl I spoke to, Monira, was extremely warm and friendly. Upon speaking to her, I found out we shared the same cultural background and that she came to the U.S. only a few years ago. At one point, we even spoke in Bangla. 

Then we all drew what beauty means to us personally. I drew an outline of the brain and wrote: empathy, intelligence, devotion, humility, and kindness, because the brain is an in internal organ and these characteristics to me are internal aspects of beauty. Then we were counted off and put in groups. Each member of the group shared what they drew and elaborated as to how their drawing depicts their idea of beauty. The facilitators also shared their own drawings with us. At the end of the session, we posted our drawings together onto a large board titled "Beauty Is..." so that we could co-create our own open and diverse definition of beauty. 

After the end of the two sessions, we had lunch. There were ethnic dishes from various parts of the world, including Ethiopian vegan cuisine, Middle Eastern kabobs and falafel, Japanese sushi and Nepali dishes. After lunch there was an energetic dance performance by William Cullen Bryant High School's K-pop Dance group. Then participants spent two hours trying different fun activities, like dancing to cultural music, taking pictures with friends in the photo booth, contributing to a community painting, and applying henna and temporary tattoos.

The afternoon ending with cake cutting and receiving SAYA Culture Con 2017 t-shirts. It was a privilege being able to organize this event with my fellow SAYA Desi Young Women’s Leadership peers. I look forward to attending the next event.

*SAYA's Desi Young Women's Leadership Conference was made possible through support from the NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color, managed and housed by the New York Women's Foundation. 

Exploring Colleges in Upstate New York


During the Spring semester, SAYA high school youth take a three day trip to visit colleges. This year, the trip was to was to Upstate New York and included a range of different campus and school types, allowing youth to get familiar with their options and discover their preferences. Students visited Iona College, Skidmore College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Purchase and Union College.

By Shreya and Mark
The first college that we visited as a SAYA group was Iona College. Because it was the first school we were seeing, we were all very excited. Our presenter gave us information and a whole run-down to what the school is all about and we felt very welcomed. From its academic 5-year programs which allow students to obtain their bachelor's and master's degree in five years rather than six, to its variety of countries for studying abroad, it is easy to say we literally fell in love with the school. After the tour, we had lunch as a group in Iona’s cafeteria, which had food choices ranging from tacos to chicken tenders to sushi. Only 35 minutes from New York City and with its small and easily accessible campus, Iona is definitely somewhere to apply to.

By Joyeta
SUNY New Paltz is a college located near the Hudson River valley with an undergraduate population of 6,699. With this average sized pool of students, there is a student to faculty ratio of 15 to 1. The school’s requirements include an 89 to 94 high school GPA with an SAT score ranging from 1090 to 1240. SUNY New Paltz is a scenic campus in a rural setting where most incoming first years live in dorms. One of the most popular majors is psychology, which is also one of the most popular majors in the country. Media is another popular major followed by sociology and early childhood education. Overall, the school seems to be very art and business oriented. According to many reviews, SUNY New Paltz is not very science oriented, however they've recently opened a new science building, so that may be subject to change with future students. 

By Lamiha
The last college we visited, SUNY New Paltz, left me with an excited feeling for my future process in choosing a college to attend. Upon arriving, we were first taken to The Atrium which was a triangular glass building famously representing SUNY New Paltz. This peculiar yet unique building really set the idea of what type of school SUNY New Paltz is. Our tour guides were all part of the social club SACA (South Asian Cultural Association) that celebrates South Asian culture and highlights the taboos present in the community. In addition, they really stressed that faculty at the school are very cooperative and willing to do whatever needed for their students such as hiring professors or organizing classes to fit a student's particular major or interests. The school's accelerated medical program allows students to graduate in three years and guarantees an interview with a linked medical school. Students also have the ability to form their own clubs, organize events on campus and take part in international trips. The school's Red Cross club fundraises for impoverished countries and then takes a trip to that country to do further charity work. Students in the club recently went to Honduras and do not necessarily have to be in the medical track to take part in this. Overall, SUNY New Paltz left an impression on me that may lead me to apply there. 

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.