Community Heroes Take to the Airwaves!

Me and My Mentor - Playing Games.

This past November and December the Youth Council’s “Me and My Mentor” program partnered up with the American Repertoire Theatre on a Podcast Project. Groups of four K-8 Mentees and their high school Mentors wrote and finalized a total of five scripts around the topic of Community Heroes. ART then took these scripts, and using real actors, recorded them into Podcasts!

You can listen to the Podcasts here: https://soundcloud.com/americanrep/sets/a-r-t-and-asian-american-civic

Creative Roundtable

Creative minds developing their script.

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AACA Student Champions Adult Basic Education at the State House

elaine_souzaElaine Sousa, a student in AACA’s Next Steps Transitional English Program, was one of three featured student speakers at an Adult Basic Education Showcase at the State House on December 10. The purpose of the event was to make Massachusetts legislators aware of the need for English classes which prepare adults for higher levels of education and family-sustaining employment.

Sousa, a native of Brazil, immigrated to the U.S. in 2008. Her goal is to go to college and get a degree in early childhood education. She told the gathering, “Organizations like the AACA have helped me and can help many other immigrants to get an education, to get a profession and to get a better future, not only for them, their families and their communities, but also to make a difference in this country which welcomed us with such great respect. My wish is, please, increase the funding for adult basic education in Massachusetts, so others like me can be successful.”

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PACE Success: Joseph Araujo

JosephJoseph Araujo was working in factory jobs with little opportunity for growth before he found AACA, and supporting his family was a challenge. Six months ago, he graduated the PACE program and started working as a Lube Technician with Nissan 24 in Brockton and he’s already made a great impression!

Joe is well liked by his co-workers and his supervisor thinks he’s doing well and learning new things quickly. He is very motivated to grow in his career. Best of luck from AACA!

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Monique Murray: Careers in Banking and Finance Success!

MoniqueMonique Murray, one of our Jamaican graduates, is one of those people who never stops working, and never stops giving back to our community.

After completing the Careers in Banking and Finance program at AACA, she found a stable job with Santander and is doing well. The job allows her the freedom to continue building her knowledge and skills and she has enrolled in finance classes at Bunker Hill Community College.

Monique is always thinking of AACA, recommending people to our programs, supporting other alumni and sharing opportunities and helping us to build our community. We wish her all the best for the future.

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College Day Panel Tackles the Big Questions

College Day Panel with Tony Kwan, Bak Fun Wong and Nam Pham.

College Day Panel with Tony Kwan, Bak Fun
Wong and Nam Pham.

On October 20, the Asian American Civic Association’s Youth Council hosted 36 colleges and attracted over 100 students and parents to the Third Annual College Day. It provides non-traditional students, such as adult learners and immigrant families, the opportunity to learn about and interact with college representatives from all over Massachusetts.

Among the opportunities for insight were a financial aid workshop led by Jodi Then from the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority (MEFA), and a panel discussion on the topic of “Does College = A Good Job?” Panelists included Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Bak Fun Wong, Major Developer Tony Kwan, and Executive Director of Viet AID Nam Pham, who concluded that no matter what you do, if you work hard, if you have passion, you’ll eventually get to where you want to get, but college gives you significantly more choices as to where to channel that hard work and passion.

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Count Us In, Harvard Pilgrim

Harvard PilgrimAACA is delighted to be a recipient in the first round of grants from Harvard Pilgrim’s new “Count Us In” Community Partners initiative, alongside Saheli Boston. “We welcome the chance to support these two vital organizations which provide essential services and are working to build strong, safe, and healthy communities,” said Eric Schultz, President and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Part of Harvard Pilgrim’s enterprise-wide Corporate Inclusion Initiative, Count Us In Community Partners is designed to help local nonprofits maximize their services and engage Harvard Pilgrim Health Care more directly with the region’s diverse communities. Harvard Pilgrim will also be offering volunteer support and expertise.

The pilot effort coincides with the launch of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s Eastern Harmony, a new program integrating the health and wellness practices of Eastern and Western medicine with Harvard Pilgrim’s popular benefit plans.

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Advancing Your Career Workshop

Speaker Jeff Davis, Career Consultant.

Speaker Jeff Davis, Career Consultant.

What do you want from your career? What elements of your current position would you like to see change? These are questions that we probably all ask ourselves at one time or another and they were the kinds of questions explored by Jeff Davis, freelance Career Consultant, at this insightful workshop. Open to all AACA graduates, this was a great opportunity to look beyond graduates’ current jobs and into the future.

“Jeff speaks to what AACA’s work really is.“ says Liz Krumenacker, AACA Retention Specialist “It’s not just about the short term – it’s about getting our clients established in a career with prospects. Getting them to look at their bigger goals and understand how to reach them.“ Thanks so much to Jeff, who is a regular contributor to AACA’s many workshops and a really inspirational speaker.

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Employer Appreciation Breakfast: We Couldn’t Do It Without You!

employer_appreciation_breakfast table 1_pan

AACA Staff and Employer Partners

It’s one of the things that makes AACA really unique: we work closely with the industries relevant to our programs. In fact, our programs are formed largely by suggestions from our employer partners. They tell us the kind of staff they’re looking for; the kinds of skills they want to see; the kind of interview follow-up they expect. We then train our job training clients to the standards they lay out, and often employer partners will then hire these clients (we had an 80% job placement rate from our job training programs in FY13!) or give them internships.

That’s why we held the Employer Appreciation breakfast – to say thank you to the people who make our programs so special. It was great to see so many of you there – it’s always a rare pleasure to speak to you all face to face. Thanks once again for everything you do!

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Tesfaalem Tesfaye: The Joy of Learning New Skills

TesfaalemTesfaalem grew up in Ethiopia, where he had a variety of hands-on jobs from furniture making to working at a shoe factory. In 2011 he came to the US and immediately began looking for ways to put his hands to work. “I love taking things apart and finding out how they work.” He said. He knew from early on that he wanted to take some practical courses.

On arriving though, he didn’t initially see the opportunities he was looking for and had to find basic, low-growth jobs at Dunkin’ Donuts and a car park. He found out about AACA by word of mouth and he joined the Building Energy Efficient Maintenance Skills (BEEMS) program, seeing that it offered opportunities for someone with his practical background. He started work as an engineer at the Hilton in Back Bay in October 2013, and has been getting a great deal of satisfaction from it, learning, for example how to maintain the pool’s chlorine levels and control the heating for the whole building by computer.

He looks back on his BEEMS training with fondness. “Everything was useful: the electrical, the plumbing, the carpentry.” He said. “Working the overnight shift you need to know a little of everything; you need to be able to fix anything.” He also found his lessons on industry-specific English incredibly useful: “There are so many words that are changed by prepositions. “Cutting in” and “cutting out” have completely different meanings!”

Tesfaalem is particularly grateful to those AACA staff that repeatedly went beyond the call of duty to help him on his way. We know that with his great attitude, the pride he takes in his work and his love of learning, he’s going to continue from success to success.

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The Power of “Change”

585px-2005-Penny-Uncirculated-Obverse-croppedAACA recently received a peculiar donation: an enormous jar of change! The donors are retired restaurant owners who wanted to give back to AACA for our support to help new immigrants establish their lives in America, and the jar has been passed down from previous owners since 1928!. With the help of Eastern Bank’s Asian Affinity Group members, the change was processed and added up to $344. As the old Chinese saying goes, “many little things add up to something big!”

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