The 2019 Youth Leadership Intensive

lincoln center, NEW YORK CITY
july 8 – 12, 2019, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

“The Kundiman Youth Intensive was the most transformative experience of my life. I hadn't realize how starved I had been for a space that was devoted to being uniquely Asian American. I felt completely understood and embraced by people who could relate to what my life was like. Finally, here was a way that I could situate myself in history, literature, and community, without having to codeswitch or struggle to feel represented." –– Emily Lu, 2018 Youth Leadership Intensive

To inspire and educate the next generation of thought leaders, Kundiman is offering its second Youth Leadership Intensive. Students will read selections from important works of Asian American literature and history and will consider how they speak to the opportunities and challenges we face in the twenty-first century. As a culminating project, they will engage in an oral history/creative writing Kavad project which will bring them in dialogue with their peers and instructors in a highly supportive, fun, and encouraging environment. Throughout the Intensive, they will receive counsel from leading writers, artists, and industry innovators. Our goal is to nurture leaders that are strongly grounded in a rich legacy of Asian American letters and community-building. Read more about our 2018 Youth Leadership Intensive here!


Rising 9th grade – 12th grade students who self-identify as Asian American.


The non-refundable tuition fee is $1,250 and includes lunch, snacks, field trips, and supplies. Housing is not included. A list of hotels near Lincoln Center can be found here.


Full and partial needs-based scholarships are available to a limited number of accepted students.


Rolling applications and scholarship applications will be accepted through March 15th, 2019.


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What to Expect

  • Explore Asian American identity, history, and culture
  • Study with acclaimed writers and artists
  • Develop skills for literary analysis, critical thinking, and self-expression
  • Hear from guest speakers who are industry innovators in law, medicine, technology, and finance
  • Have fun with new friends and foster community


Guided tours of the Museum of Art and Design and Central Park.

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Sample Schedule

  • 10:00 am: Opening Circle & Spark Writing
  • 11:00 am: Asian American Literature
  • 11:45 am: Guest Speaker/Industry Innovator
  • 12:15 pm: Lunch
  • 1:15 pm: History: The Making of Asian America
  • 2:15 pm: Break
  • 2:30 pm: Visiting Artist Talk
  • 4:00 pm: Small Group Mentorship & Closing Circle
  • 5:00 pm: End


Wo Chan is a queer, nonbinary Asian American poet and drag performer living in Brooklyn. Wo has received fellowships from the New York Foundation of the Arts, Kundiman, the Asian American Writers Workshop, Poets House, Lambda Literary, and more. Their work has been published in journals including Cortland Review, The Margins, Massachusetts Review, No Tokens, Vetch, cream city review, and Riot of Perfume. Their work has been further anthologized in Bettering American Poetry, Go Home!, Emergency Index, Vinegar and Char, and Velour. As a member of the Brooklyn based drag/burlesque collective Switch N' Play, Wo has performed at venues including The Whitney, National Sawdust, New York Live Arts, and BAM Fisher. Wo holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA in Poetry from New York University. Visit them @theillustriouspearl

Cathy Linh Che is the Executive Director of Kundiman and has worked in nonprofit administration, education, and publishing for over 15 years. Cathy formerly served as a communications consultant and Managing Director of the organization. She has also worked for Kaya Press, New Directions Publishing, and Poets & Writers and has taught at New York University, The Polytechnic University at NYU, The Asian American Writers Workshop, and at Sierra Nevada College. Cathy is the author of the poetry collection Split (Alice James Books), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Best Poetry Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. She received her BA from Reed College and her MFA from New York University.

Franny Choi is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody, 2014), as well as a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A Kundiman Fellow and member of the Dark Noise Collective, she edits for Hyphen Magazine and co-hosts the podcast VS alongside Danez Smith. She is an incoming Bolin Fellow at Williams College.

Tanaïs (née Tanwi Nandini Islam) is the New York based author of the critically-acclaimed novel BRIGHT LINES (Penguin 2015), which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize, and was the inaugural selection of the First Lady of NYC's Gracie Book Club, as well as Bustle's American Woman Book Club. Her work is multi-disciplinary, dynamic, intersectional and feminist. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a community organizer, a domestic violence court advocate, a probations intake officer, and youth arts educator. While researching her debut novel, BRIGHT LINES, she studied perfumery, amassing a library of 500 fragrant raw materials, which led to the creation of Hi Wildflower, independent beauty & fragrance house. Currently, she is working on her second novel, STELLAR SMOKE, and a podcast and perfume anthology project, MALA, which features the scents and stories of five formerly incarcerated women.

Sahar Muradi is a writer, performer, and educator born in Afghanistan and raised in the U.S. She is author of [ G A T E S ] (Black Lawrence Press), co-author of A Ritual in X Movements (Montez Press), and co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press). She has an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, an MPA in international development from NYU, and a BA in creative writing from Hampshire College. Sahar has been the recipient of the Himan Brown Poetry Award and the Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from Kundiman and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Her career has spanned supporting civil society in Afghanistan to running afterschool programs for high school youth in NYC to copywriting. Sahar currently works in the arts-in-education and poetry programs at City Lore and dearly believes in the bottom of the rice pot.

Lester Szeto is an Executive Director and Senior Counsel in the Legal Department at Morgan Stanley in New York. He leads a team of attorneys and paralegals advising the Wealth Management business segment on private banking and lending activities. He holds a JD from the University of California Berkeley School of Law, an MA from the University of California, Davis, and a BA from Rutgers University.

Ryan Lee Wong is a writer and arts organizer based in Brooklyn. He curated the exhibitions Roots at the Chinese American Museum and Serve the People at Interference Archive, both focused on radical Asian American movements. Wong has served as a Visiting Scholar at the A/P/A Institute at NYU, a Visiting Critic at RISD, Assistant Curator at the Museum of Chinese in America, and an exhibitions administrator at the Metropolitan Museum. He holds an MFA in Fiction from Rutgers-Newark, and serves on the board of the Jerome Foundation.

Kyle Lucia Wu is the Programs and Communications Manager at Kundiman. She is also the publisher of Joyland and has worked for HarperCollins, Electric Literature, and The New School Writing Program. Kyle is the recipient of an Asian American Writers’ Workshop Margins fellowship and has received residencies from the Millay Colony and Byrdcliffe Colony. She has an MFA in fiction from The New School and teaches at Fordham University.