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Creating an Impact: 2023 BranchOut! Opening Event

BranchOut!’s annual training and open house event took place on Saturday, June 24th, 2023 at 9 AM EST. During this event, we heard from two community leaders, Mr. Vincent Yee and Ms. Mona Roy, who discussed the importance of civic engagement. We also heard from Dr. Yuhsien Wu, co-founder of BranchOut!, who gave a presentation on how to be a leader. New and returning members alike were inspired by the stories and motivation the speakers had to offer.

Our training event kicked off with a presentation by Mr. Yee, award-winning author of the Clara Wu and the World of Azen book series. Launched within one year, the series serves as an example of what Mr. Yee believes our society currently lacks: better Asian representation within media. Mr. Yee hopes to inspire young adults nationwide to get involved in their community as leaders and become a role model for those around them.

The training event also featured some incredibly inspirational words from Ms. Roy, who spoke to the BranchOut! mentors about civic engagement and social responsibility. She shared stories from her own life which underlined the importance of civic engagement, and how being a leader in one’s community is not just a choice but a duty. Her inspiring message empowered mentors to stand up not just for themselves but for others as well, and to act as empathetic leaders within their community.

Dr. Wu gave a motivational presentation on what it means to be a leader. She emphasized the idea of being proactive and branching out of one’s comfort zone and shared some of the integral values within BranchOut!’s culture. Her presentation was followed by training from the junior leadership team, who educated mentors about the various divisions of BranchOut! and trained them on proper tutoring and emailing etiquette. Mentors then split into breakout rooms for program-specific training, led by various student leaders.

Thank you to all the community leaders, emcees, and program leaders, including Dr. Meina Liu and Ms. Cuiwei Zhao, for helping make this year’s training event a success, as well as all the mentors who attended! We look forward to a great summer with you all.

Below are some testimonies from training event attendees:

“The training event on 6/24 was a great experience! I really loved getting to hear from guest speakers Vincent Yee and Mona Roy. Both inspired me to realize that anyone can be a hero through civic engagement. Hearing from Dr. Yuhsien Wu also taught me about leadership and responsibility. When we split into different breakout groups, I joined the one for the Innovator program and was briefed on logistics and plans for the summer. We also participated in activities that helped strengthen our group bond. Overall, the event felt like a great success to me.” - Sarah Li, rising 9th grade, McLean High School

“Attending the BranchOut! training event on 6/24 was an incredible experience. It featured two inspiring guest speakers, Vincent Yee and Mona Roy, who shared their remarkable journeys and insights, motivating us to be a superhero in our own community. Additionally, I was looking forward to learning and hearing from Dr. Yuhsien Wu, who talked a little about her personal experiences and the expectations associated with being a young adult. Throughout the event, I gained valuable insight into the various programs BranchOut! offered, and the expectations associated with each one. As we transitioned to our designated breakout rooms specific to our chosen program, I had an amazing time getting to know the mentors that would be working alongside me in the Belong STEAM camp. The event was truly an amazing experience, and left me with a stronger eagerness for this summer!” - Kevin Xue, Rising 11th Grade, Chantilly High School

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