Project Excel Dinner Encourages Critical Thinking

David Perkins, back to camera on left, leads an ice breaker portion of the evening as young men learn to become comfortable speaking in front of groups.
David Perkins, back to camera on left, leads an ice breaker portion of the evening as young men learn to become comfortable speaking in front of groups.
Project Excel’s young women watch a video about Malala Yousafzai, who was an advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan.
Project Excel’s young women watch a video about Malala Yousafzai, who was an advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan.
Mr. Bedel Saget talked about the MALIK Fraternity’s dedication to and strong conviction toward academic excellence, social responsibility, and community service on the part of college men.
Mr. Bedel Saget talked about the MALIK Fraternity’s dedication to and strong conviction toward academic excellence, social responsibility, and community service on the part of college men.
Many of the young women had the opportunity to share their thoughts about their own passions and what they may like to do after high school.
Many of the young women had the opportunity to share their thoughts about their own passions and what they may like to do after high school.
This was a highly anticipated and special evening for everyone.
This was a highly anticipated and special evening for everyone.
Mr. Marcos Maldonaldo, from the Mentoring Partnership of Long Island leads a discussion at his table that asks each young man about his definition of empowerment.
Mr. Marcos Maldonaldo, from the Mentoring Partnership of Long Island leads a discussion at his table that asks each young man about his definition of empowerment.
Both groups had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful meal that served as a half-time break, before they got back to the evening’s program.
Both groups had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful meal that served as a half-time break, before they got back to the evening’s program.
This young woman shares her thoughts about the video she had just watched and the difficult life Malala Yousafzai must have had in Pakistan.
This young woman shares her thoughts about the video she had just watched and the difficult life Malala Yousafzai must have had in Pakistan.
Mr. Andrew Abubakar George, of the MALIK Fraternity, Inc. spoke with the young men about the evening’s theme of empowerment.  Standing behind him is, left to right, Mr. David Perkins and social worker mentor Mr. Bret Deutsch.
Mr. Andrew Abubakar George, of the MALIK Fraternity, Inc. spoke with the young men about the evening’s theme of empowerment. Standing behind him is, left to right, Mr. David Perkins and social worker mentor Mr. Bret Deutsch.

South Huntington’s Project Excel Program held their annual Tea and Tie event on Friday night, January 24. The young women in Project Excel met in the Silas Wood library for a special evening that opened with an introduction of the Eastern Shore Chapter of The Links. The Links is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who are committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

The power and importance of education was one of the evening’s key topics. The students watched a video about Malala Yousafzai, who was an advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan and subsequently became a Taliban target. Shot in the head for her outspoken beliefs, she survived and is now in the United Kingdom continuing her work to bring attention to the basic right of girls to have an education in Pakistan.

After dinner, the attendees broke into small groups to continue discussing empowerment. They talked about where power comes from, who they think has power and why, and what power words, music, and images hold. They discussed and shared their thoughts about their own passions. The evening concluded, as these evenings always do, with lessons and tips on etiquette. 

The young men in the Project Excel program met in the cafeteria and, along with their mentors, heard about the MALIK Fraternity. Mr. Bedel Saget talked about the fraternity’s dedication to and strong conviction toward academic excellence, social responsibility, and community service on the part of college men. MALIK is a progressive African American and Latino fraternity that has, during its 32 years of existence, made a significant mark on the black and Latino community by way of its dedicated and committed membership and service.

During dinner the attendees discussed the themes featured at each table. The mentors at each of the tables led discussions about various topics related to empowerment. They talked about the power of sports, images, words, and peer pressure.

Like the young women upstairs, the young men were reminded of table etiquette and spent a portion of the evening learning and demonstrating its importance. They became experts at tying ties and were reminded by Mr. David Perkins of the importance of a positive first impression.

The men and women who volunteer their time to mentor and give back to our students and community are an invaluable asset. They are quiet heroes who make a difference in our community, and we thank them for their service.