Back in January, the NPH leadership students and the two cultural partner interns, Katie (me) and Sinclair, went to the Theo Chocolate Factory in Fremont to take a tour and learn how Theo makes their fair trade chocolate. When we got there, we were asked to put on hairnets that we all looked quite stunning in, and then we spent the first half hour of the hour long tour learning about where Theo sources their cacao beans and the process that goes into making organic, fair trade chocolate. Theo keeps its chocolate bar recipes very simple, which was great news for me because I realized that I could practically make chocolate at home (with the addition of some heavy machinery, but I wasn’t thinking that far ahead). We also were lucky enough to sample several flavors and types of chocolate bars Theo makes, promptly putting us all into a happy chocolate/sugar-induced state. After our lesson, we got to tour the factory and see all the massive machines that help make the delicious final product: the chocolate bar. Unfortunately, because we were there on a Sunday, we were unable to actually see the machines at work, but we still walked away knowing much more about the chocolate making process than any of us had known before. We also saw the kitchen where trained confectioners make things like truffles and caramels, and we once again were treated to samples. After viewing the kitchen and learning more about what goes on in there, the tour was over and we went to the Theo gift shop, where there was more chocolate than anyone could ever dream of. We all had a great time and left with bellies full of delicious chocolate, so I know any one of us would be happy to go back for another tour!
It was over three years ago that charter class graduate, Emir Ricaño (NPH Mexico), turned to me at our weekly meeting and asked “when are we going to do the Posadas?”. I am now so grateful for his question and for how the Posadas have become a tradition here, allowing our NPH students to offer a gift of their culture and tradition to their family in the Northwest. It also gives them an opportunity to practice leadership and intercultural skills – as they must find a way to integrate traditions from their various countries and then explain the tradition to folks here. Doing all of that in your second (or third) language is no easy task!
This year, as we have for the past three years – we gathered to enjoy the Christmas Posadas. This year’s group decided to include a short skit, which was both funny and a good reminder of the first Christmas. The crowd participated by joining in the singing of “We Three Kings” and later “Feliz Navidad”. After the Nativity Play, it was time for the piñata which was homemade according to NPH tradition. The youngest guests had a great time swinging at the piñata, even as Cesario and Dennis pulled it barely out of their reach. Even the youngest (2 years old) was able to participate!
As guests lingered over a potluck dinner, the sense of community that surrounds these young people was palpable. Thank you to everyone who participated, and to the students for putting on such a wonderful evening.
Merry Christmas and blessings for the New Year!
This past Sunday, we celebrated our Fall Mass, thereby officially kicking off our third year!
Father Tom celebrated Mass with about 40 people gathered at the home of Linda and Victor in West Seattle. We sang and prayed in English and in Spanish, met the new leadership group (who introduced themselves in English!) and praised God for bringing so many wonderful souls together. The leadership students and their host families all shared thoughts and observations from their first weeks in Seattle.
After Mass, Father Tom blessed Linda and Victor’s home as well as the new Leadership Van!
Finally, we had a communal dinner and time to catch up with old friends and/or get to know each other better!
Please continue to hold these students and their host families in your prayers!
Today, meet Daphney from NPFS Haiti!
Daphney is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about leadership and improve her English during her time in Seattle. She is currently studying Administration at the University level in Haiti. Her year of service to NPFS naturally led to this career, as she worked in the social work office helping with files, documentation, and child sponsorship. Through her work with the Salesian Sisters, she continues to develop her skills working with people in need. During her time in Seattle, she hopes to receive training on becoming a better leader so she can help more young people in Haiti, as well as improving her English. She says that “NPH is my life. Like a mother, a guide, a shield. Because of NPH I was able to continue my education. For all these reasons, NPH is everything”.
Dinora Saribel García de León
Saribel is currently studying Business Administration at the Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala. She also serves NPH as the assistant director of the baby house, and as she describes “her babies”, it is easy to see how lucky they are to receive her care.
During this year in Seattle, she hopes to improve her English, learn about the culture of the Northwest and other areas of the United States, grow in her leadership abilities, and to learn about each of the people she will meet while here. In thinking about her NPH family, she says “NPH means the opportunity to have the family I dreamt of for so long. It means a brighter future for me and for my brothers and sisters”.
Today, meet Ricardo Klayen from NPH Mexico:
Ricardo talks about what he has learned during his years at NPH: responsibility, commitment, unconditional giving, and a strong work ethic. All of these skills have served him well during his University studies in Monterrey, Mexico. This past summer, Ricardo completed the final requirements for his Nursing Degree and graduated! Part of his final year of studies included internships and social service. He had the opportunity to work in the internal medicine department as well as the home care and psychiatry departments of two distinct hospitals in Monterrey.
During this year in Seattle, Ricardo notes “I hope to learn much about the culture, leadership, language, and people of the US. Most of all, I wish to understand what kind of leader I am, what kind of leader I can be, and what I want to change or improve. It is my intent to use these tools for the benefit of the people around me; in my work, in my community, and in my NPH family”.
Today, meet Mila from NPH Nicaragua:
Migdalia Meza Gutierrez
Migdalia is in her fourth year of the Pediatric Nursing Program at the University in Managua. In order to participate in the leadership institute in Seattle, she is taking a break from her studies which she will complete upon her return. She hopes that when she finishes she will be able to work for NPH.
This year, she hopes to prepare to be a strong leader in order to offer all she can to NPH in the future. She reflects, “NPH, my wonderful family. I can’t describe it other than to say it is a blessing from God, my brothers and sisters are everything to me. Every child is a story – stories that identify us as siblings, stories that help us grow, learn, and get back up again when we fall. I am grateful to have Father Wasson guiding us from heaven as we each take our own path”.