How a Year in Seattle Transformed my Life

By: Jacinto Arias, Class of 2013 (NPH Guatemala)

Jacinto graduated from The Seattle Institute in 2013 and is now serving as the Year of Service and University Student Coordinator, while he continues his University Studies in Guatemala.  Here he reflects on his time in Seattle and how it impacted his life.  

It´s been almost 2 years since I came back from Seattle. When I look back I realize that I am not the same person that I was before. I experienced ten months filled with hard work, joy, games, homework (grammar), and meeting so many people. I met really good people. I don’t remember some of their names, but I have their faces in my mind.

In the beginning, it was really hard because I was really far from my friends and my family, and of course the language made my first weeks harder.  During my stay in Seattle, I could find unconditional love from my host family (the Callans) and in their house I felt for the first time in my whole life, a real family. But now you will say: Why are you saying that? You are in NPH and NPH is a family and its true, but there I experienced having a mom and dad, where they took care of me very seriously. I remember this phrase from Cathy Callans: I take my role very seriously. She told me when she saw that I was doing something wrong or something good, as well.  They treated me as a son and their kids treated me as a brother. Their kids (Jonathan, Matthew and Molly) always had time for me and they argued with each other in order to know who had the best Spanish.

I was used to having so many people around me and when I went to Seattle it was really different. I lived in a big house for 5 people and for me it was really difficult to get used to it. Sometimes I got frustrated because I was alone at the house and I had just one channel in Spanish, but because of that experience I got to learn more about myself. I realized that at NPH I did not have enough time for myself, and in Seattle I had that time and I could know more about myself: goals, objectives, fears, etc.

No matter where I went, I found good people; people who were and still are interested in NPH. Something that really impressed me was that even though they didn´t know NPH, they believed in us, they believed that we would be successful and we would change the world. I admire NPH USA a lot because they work so hard every day in order to help us and get more people involved.

Kara King, the coordinator of the program, always trusted in us. She is an amazing person and always listened to us and gave us advice.  She is totally convinced that this program is worth it, which motivates me to keep working and helping others. I know that I cannot do everything, but I can do something and that something I will do well.

People from the States and all the people that help us, thank you so much for your support. I have no words to thank you nor a way to pay you, but I am truly convinced that one day YOU will have your compensation.

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“I would do it again in a heartbeat” ~ A Reflection on Hosting an NPH Student

By Cheryl Goodwin

When we agreed to be a host family for one of the Leadership students this year, I knew that I would be glad I had done it. My family has been involved with NPH since 2007, when my oldest daughter worked at the regional office. She invited us to a Faces of Hope event that introduced us to NPH, its founder and the children who are part of a large, loving family.  Shortly after that we sponsored our first godchild from Guatemala, and then a second one.

I have been a Table Captain at numerous events, volunteered in the office, and am currently serving on the Regional Board.  This past summer, I visited the home in Guatemala and was able to meet my godchildren and see first-hand that everything that I had heard about NPH was true. I remember clearly driving through the entrance of the grounds and being brought to tears by the beauty of it all, especially in contrast to the poverty we had passed through on the trip from the airport.

During this trip I was able to visit with several of the young men and women who had been through the Leadership program in the past few years.  It was good to see them living out what the program was aiming for – providing leadership and support to their sisters and brothers at NPH. I was also introduced to Luisa, who was planning to come as one of this year’s students.

Paul and I have always opened our home to others.  Our children’s friends were (are) always welcome, extended family members have lived with us for several months, holiday gatherings are frequently at our house, and we have had weekly meals with a  large group of friends for nearly twenty years.  However, in recent years, I kept feeling the call to show “hospitality to strangers.”  We had been asked to consider hosting a student the prior year, but for several reasons had decided it wasn’t the right time.  The idea had stayed in my mind, however, and my visit to the home in Guatemala made everything so much more real than it had been before.  So, when Kara King asked us to consider it again this year we said yes.

To be honest, even after saying yes, I was nervous and uncertain about whether or not it was a good idea. Our student, Magda, is from Honduras and she spoke very little English.  Since neither my husband, my mother, nor I speak Spanish, I was worried about how we were going to communicate.  The first couple weeks were a bit of a challenge, communication-wise.  The translation programs on our cell phones were a life-saver, allowing us to at least get the basics of what we were trying to say across. However, we were able to laugh as we fumbled our way through unfamiliar words and as Magda’s English skills increased and we learned a little Spanish, communication became easier.  We now have long, detailed conversations with only the occasional look-up of a particularly difficult word.

I had also worried that we wouldn’t be exciting enough for her – we don’t have kids at home, we aren’t soccer players, and are pretty busy with work commitments.  But we can, and did, provide an opportunity for her to be part of our family, with all of our quirks and goodness. Our friends and church family have loved getting the chance to get to know her.  I was rather surprised at how quickly Magda began to feel like another daughter to us.

As I mentioned earlier, I knew that I would be glad that we had agreed to be a host family and that it was the right thing to do.  What I hadn’t counted on, however, was the joy I would experience in the midst of it.  I love introducing her to our family’s traditions, taking her to our favorite restaurants, participating in holiday activities, spending the evening watching a movie at home, and even helping her with her homework.  I am humbled by the fact that she has been willing to share her life story with us and that she trusts us to love and care for her.  I am blessed by her generosity and kindness towards her brothers and sisters at the ranch. I am impressed with her hard work to learn a new language and a new culture. I know she will take a piece of my heart with her when she returns to Honduras at the end of June, but am comforted by the knowledge that I now have another reason to visit the NPH ranch there.

An added benefit of being a host family is the opportunity to get to know the other five students and their host families. Each of them, Luisa, Samy, Lucre, Florine, and Nelson, are wonderful individuals who challenge and bless me.  As I near the end of this year, I am saddened by the fact that I will miss them all and so very encouraged by the good work that I know they will all do in the future.

I am grateful that I have been able to play a small part in their lives. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

A New Partnership with iLEAP

– By Nelson, NPH Honduras

The Leadership Program students had the opportunity to spend five days in a special iLEAP program.

What does iLEAP mean?  iLEAP is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and renew social leaders and global citizens through integrated leadership programs that ignite hope and transformation in the world.

This is the first time the NPH Leadership Institute has partnered with iLEAP, so I would like to share a little about this wonderful experience that the leadership students had at iLEAP.

We started on Friday, March, 27th.  We arrived at 9:30 am after a tiring week where we had fundraising activities with NPH USA.  Even though we were tired, we had the attitude to start working for the next five days in different topics, and take advantage of this iLEAP program.

First of all, we worked in many interesting topics that really caused us to think about what it means to be a good leader in our respective societies. One thing that really caused us to think about leadership was when we visited two places: Theo Chocolate and Farestart. Both of them are social businesses that are working with people to improve their lives and find the best version of themselves.

The following are our personal reflections about our week at iLEAP:

Nelson Alvarez: For me this program was helpful in many ways. By working in many topics I learned that leadership is not position, it is because whatever you are working you are demonstrating leadership, it does not matter if you work, for example, as a teacher or as a policeman you are demonstrating leadership as well. It helped me to clarify my own vision for the next years.

Lucrecia Guadamuz: I think iLEAP is a good program because it is focused on understanding yourself first and then you can lead others. The leadership concept that they teach is based in a practical and real way.

Florine St. Eloi: I think it is a really good organization which helps people developing their leadership, and to make it in practice with others and for others not just for ourselves.

Luisa Riquiac: In my own opinion iLEAP inspires you how to work in a reasonable leadership style and to make good decisions for a group not only for yourself.

Samuel Chavez: iLEAP changed my ideas about leadership and it re-opened my eyes after having a bad situation and wondering about my abilities as a leader.  Now I feel more confident about myself and I am sure that I can be a leader in different ways.

Magda Altamirano: iLEAP is an interesting program where you discovered abilities and characteristics that we have as leaders, it helps us to learn how we can improve other qualities and help others.

And a reflection from Kara too…

Kara King: For me, it is exciting to embark on this new partnership with the wonderful folks at iLEAP.  Since the first year of our program here in Seattle, Britt has been a guide for me in developing the program.  It is good to be working together, for I have seen their good work over the past four years and feel so grateful to have our emerging NPH leaders experience the iLEAP way as well.  I think we are all looking forward to dreaming together and seeing how we can make our partnership even stronger next year.

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As you can see this program was helpful for all of us, the leadership program students, in different ways and I am sure that we will share all this knowledge with our brothers and sisters of NPH.

Thanks to our NPH family and our new iLEAP family for making this possible!

Through Eyes That Have Cried

 “There are some things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”

“Hay muchas cosas que sólo pueden ser vistas a través de ojos que han llorado.” 

They are words from Monseñor Oscar Romero of El Salvador.  Standing in the church where he was martyred in 1980 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-31115837), these words almost feel like an invitation.  Or perhaps a challenge.

Will you look?

Will you see?

Will you notice the pain and suffering and injustice around you?

Will you turn away?

Or, will you gaze through your tears?  And in the midst of your own pain and brokenness, find ways to engage with love and compassion?

It has become increasingly clear to me through my work with NPH that tears are sacred.  To be honored, rather than quickly wiped away or hidden.  As we have developed this program in Seattle over the past four years, the importance of accompanying our pequeños/as as they look at their life story has become central.  We are blessed with the space, time, and good people that allow this to happen to whatever extent each participant is able – we meet them where they are.

What is becoming clear is that this work, this hard and scary and beautiful work, is helping them make significant changes in their lives.  It can feel slow and painful, and there have been times when I have questioned it, worried about it, wondered if we were inviting harm rather than good.

And so when I read these words, they impacted me deeply – for I have seen the truth in them.  Through my tears, shed over my own brokenness and over the brokenness I witness in our kids, I have seen things I could not see before.  Tears that were held in for many years, when finally released and blessed – have brought deeper relationships and a new capacity to love.

Through their own tears, the pequeños/as have come to recognize a resilience and beauty that is stronger than they knew.  I have seen them realize their own ability to offer healing to each other and to others.  Through art and storytelling, they have seen each other and themselves in new ways, inviting them to personal growth and transformation and ultimately to a life in which they can better serve others because they know who they are and they know how to love well.

My recent trip to NPH El Salvador reminded me that change is possible and hope is with us.  I watched graduates of our Seattle program facilitate sessions for the younger pequeños/as, lead activities, answer questions, and participate in high level educational planning meetings.  They were both engaged and courageous and I felt so proud of them and hopeful for our future as an NPH family.

But perhaps my most precious hour with them was our first afternoon at NPH El Salvador as we sat together in rocking chairs in the shade outside the house.  How beautiful to have time for them to speak honestly and listen to each other about what is happening in their lives in their home countries.  Their integrity and love for each other and for NPH is beautiful.

As our Seattle program continues to grow, we must remember the importance of this deep personal work.  And that stepping into it ultimately empowers our kids to use their lives for the good of the world.

What change will they make?  Whose life might they save?  Where will they bring hope where before there was none?  We don’t yet know.  What I do know is that their willingness to look at the world through eyes that have cried makes them more compassionate, more authentic, and more humble leaders for a world that in desperate need of them.

-Kara King, Program Director

NPH Youth Development Programs

We believe that all children deserve the chance to reach their full potential and lead the best lives possible, both personally and professionally. Our nine NPH homes provide a variety of development opportunities for our youth to help make this possible. Our programs span the areas of leadership, young women empowerment, spiritual formation and a variety of extracurricular activities so that they can develop their talents and creativity.
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“We know to be strong leaders you really have to know yourself and we try to provide opportunities for young people so that they can continue to learn more about themselves and where they see themselves serving. . . We are not just talking about leadership in general, we are really talking about leadership that comes from the heart, that comes from the understanding of what it means to serve.” -Donna Egge, Director of Family Service, NPHI
Watch our latest video to learn more about youth development at NPH!
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My Experience on my Job Shadow

Written/Translated by: Samuel, NPH Mexico

I remember when Kara asked us about something that would like to work for one day, with professional people. I didn’t think by two times, my answer was that I really like “broadcasting and something more about Communication”.

Weeks later I went to my first job shadowing, “KBC-FM Radio Station” whit Samia Panni, she talked about her job, which plays Music from Brazil, she had been volunteer of this radio for many years. Also, we could observe all the things that she needs to do when she is “On Air”, I really enjoy to see a lot of controls, cables and microphones.

A week later, I went to Adaquest. I felt like if I were working with them, I went to a meetings and I met a lot of people. One of the things that I did realize was that some of this people who is working on Adaquest are sponsors from some of the kids from NPH and they loves their kids, and also they are thinking to visit one of our NPH houses. I was really excited. So, I really enjoy my visit to Adaquest.

I want to thank Samia for inviting us to her radio station, and also I really say thank you to Adaquest for letting me learn more and share time with me and all my brothers and sisters.  And a special thanks to Carol Bubar for giving us this opportunity to meet professional people.

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Recuerdo aquella ves que Kara nos pregunto acerca de algo que nos interesara trabajar por un dia, con gente professional. Yo sin pensarlo dos veses le respondi “broadcasting o algo relacionado con comunicacion”.

Semanas despues me encontraba visitando “KBC-FM Radio Station” una estacion de radio, el programa era dirigido por Samia Pani, Ella nos hablo acerca de su trabajo, que es transmitir musica de Brazil, ella ha sido voluntaria en esa estacion de radio por muchos años. Pudimos observar todos esos movimientos que nesesita hacer cuando se encuantra “Al Aire”. La verdad es que me emocione ver controles por doquiera, cables y microfonos.

Una semana despues, me encontraba en Adaquest. Me senti como parte del equipo, ya que asistia a juntas y conoci gente. Algo de lo que me di cuenta fue que muchoas de las personas trabajando en esta empresa son padrinos de algunos de nuestros niños de nuestras casas de NPH, ellos quieren a los chicos, y de hecho algunos de ellos ya estan hacienda planes para visitor NPH en el future. Pero bueno, disfrute al maximo el estar en Adaquest.

Quiero agradecer a Samia por permitirnos visitar su estacion de radio, tambien quiero agradecer a Adaquest por darnos la oportunidad de aprender mas de ustesdes y compartir con migo y con mis hermanos, y tambien un agradecimiento muy especial a Carol Bubar, por darnos esa oportunidad de conocer a gente tan trabajadora.

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Carol preparing the students for their job shadows.

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Samy with Samia, Magda, and Luisa at the Radio Station!

GIVE MEANING TO YOUR LIFE BY SHARING WITH OTHERS

By Luisa, NPH Guatemala (with a little translation help from host mom, Karen)

JUBILEE WOMENS EXPERIENCE:

The first thing that impressed me was when we were received with joy by Emerald and Sam. They gave me positive energy that made me understand the word SHARE. Sometimes we think we deserve a smile and to be happy, but when we go out of our comfort zone we need to understand that everyone needs a smile to continue with their purpose of life, we are not the only ones with a broken heart.  Then I understand what our purpose as human beings is to help each other as JESUS said,  “Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting.”

Then came the hour of delicious lunch and all came with a different look and then their cheerful smile that says thank you. Sometimes you plant seeds of hope without realizing. I felt part of them because when visitors come to NPH, I feel hope to continue living – but now I gave a sign of hope to these women who struggle every day to be someone in life.

During my time here in Seattle I realize that everyone has their own economic problems, but I’ve learned that no matter what, people help regardless of anything in return, one of the things that Father Wasson taught is to SHARE without seeing who you benefit, you just have a smile that marked your life.
Brief history of JUBILEE CENTER SEATTLE:
JUBILEE is an organization that helps women who do not have a home. Jubilee provides the women safe, affordable community housing and educational resources to help the women become independent. It was founded by three Sisters of St. Josephs of Peace.

DALE SENTIDO A TU VIDA COMPARTIENDO CON LOS DEMAS

Lo primero que me fascino fue cuando nos recibió con alegría la encargada, ella me transmitió una energía positiva es lo que me hizo comprender la palabra COMPARTIR A VECES pensamos que solo nosotros merecemos una sonrisa y ser felices, pero cuando salimos de nuestra línea de confort es necesario entender que todo el mundo necesita una sonrisa para poder seguir con el propósito de la vida, que no somos los únicos con el corazón roto, entonces entiendo cuál es nuestro propósito como seres humanos, es ayudarnos unos a los otros como dijo JESUS Bien aventurados los que dan sin recordar, y los que reciben sin olvidar. Luego llegó la hora del delicioso almuerzo y entraron todas con una mirada diferente y fue entonces aquella sonrisa tan alegre que te dice gracias, a veces uno siembra semillas de esperanza sin darse cuenta, me sentí parte de ellas porque cuando llegan las visitas a NPH, me siento con una esperanza de seguir viviendo pero ahora me toca darles una señal de esperanza a estas mujeres que luchan día a día para ser alguien en la vida Durante mi tiempo aquí en Seattle me he dado cuenta que todo el mundo tiene sus propios problemas económicos, pero he aprendido que no importa eso aquí, la gente ayuda sin importar nada a cambio, una de las cosa que nos enseñó el Padre Wasson ES COMPARTIR sin ver a quien beneficias, simplemente has una sonrisa que marcara tu vida.

Breve historia de JUBILEE CENTER SEATTLE JUBILEE es una organización que ayuda a mujeres que no tienen un HOGAR, factor económico y sobre todo a trnsformar a estas mujeres en futuras empresarias. Fue fundada gracias a tres mujeres el Capitolio de la Arquidiócesis de Seattle.

Editor’s Note: One Saturday each month, the leadership students accompanied by friends of NPH spend the morning cooking lunch for the women of Jubilee!  We look forward to continuing to build this new partnership!  Jubilee’s executive director, Cheryl, has supported NPH with leadership development for many years and each year offers her advice and teaching to the Seattle students as well!  To learn more about Jubilee’s great work: http://www.jwcenter.org/