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Community Conversations
with Alex & Dydine

Episode 7

What is community?
What is family?
How and why have they shaped you?

Special guest Leilany & Aaron. On the meaning of community.

Um, well, you know it's impacted me in our ways because just like how Alex mentioned, I take it personal. Going back to OLASTEO, it stands for Our Lives As Seen Through Each Other. So these things that happen to other people, like you see your life through them, through the things that they go through because you're like “hey like that happened to me too” or something similar happened to me too.

So for the people in my community. When I see teenagers go through (tough) things, I remember when I was in Watts and that was me, you know, and I know that it's forever gonna keep going unless someone steps up and do something about it. That's why I try to you know get involved with my community as much as possible, while still trying to manage you know my own burdens, but it's just because I want to help people like you know that same little girl that's struggling in Watts, that was me once upon a time. I'm in a much better position now because you know I have support from OLASTEO, but there's people still in Watts that don't have any of those resources so that you know, just seeing what they go through it just reminds me of what I went through. I have sympathy and I have to do something for them because if I was little, like I wish somebody would have done something for me when I was small. So yeah, that's really what it is, my community.


The conversation took place on Instagram live
March 21, 2021

Leilany & Aaron Biography


Leilany was raised by a single mother in Watts, an underserved community in Los Angeles, CA. As a high school freshman, she joined a college prep program called College Track Watts and graduated from Jordan High school. She is currently a first-generation college student and a small business owner. After graduating from college, she plans to become a physician assistant. Leilany is motivated to pay things forward by helping expose fellow neighbors in Watts and those from other similar communities to the type of perspectives and possibilities that have been. 


A native New Yorker, Aaron has always been intensely service-oriented and is inspired by the words of the great James Baldwin - “The questions which one asks oneself begin, at last, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others.” He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in China and immerse himself in a community unlike that where he grew up or went to school. After working for over a decade in the healthcare IT space, Aaron currently works as a People Solutions Leader, cultivating winning organizational cultures. He co-founded OLASTEO with his wife, Ceci, in order to create experiences for underserved students that open their eyes to the larger world beyond their immediate community.