On June 25th, I walked across the stage to receive my Master’s Degree from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. In the audience (and others there in spirit) was my family. They had come from Seattle and Spokane, as well as from Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua to bear witness to this moment with me.
The Seattle School Graduation.
On June 26th, I listened at an NPHI Board Meeting to Donna Egge and Miguel Venegas as they reminded me of how far we had come together over the past 6 years of shaping and then beginning The Seattle Institute.
Miguel and Kara during the NPHI Board Meeting.
I mention both of these days not only because they were two significant endings so close together, but also because The Seattle School and NPH have been interwoven in my life for the past four years. As I have grown as a therapist, the leadership program has grown and developed. As I have learned who I am uniquely created to be in the world, I have been better able to accompany our young people in that same journey. As I stepped into a school with its own recent history of transitions, failure, and redemption – I was newly able to imagine that for NPH as well.
I will be forever grateful to NPHI for taking the risk they took in launching this program. And, I will be forever grateful to The Seattle School for the transformation that began in my heart within that brick building.
A week later, on July 3rd, we celebrated our fifth graduating class of The Seattle Institute. In the audience were alumni from four years of the Seattle program, along with our Seattle Community which has so lovingly embraced this program from day one. The graduating students spoke wisely and courageously as they shared with us what they had learned during their time in Seattle. If you missed it, you can listen to their speeches here: 2016 Student Speeches
Alberto sharing his thoughts on leadership.
We shared a bit about how the program came to be and where we are now, including introducing our partners from iLEAP and the NPH staff members who were in Seattle for a month-long leadership training. We were also excited to share an update on our alumni and the good and inspiring work they are doing in the communities. You can read those here: Where are they now?
Jean Francois (Charter Class) reflects on the first year of The Seattle Institute.
Finally, the graduates and alumni offered a gift I will always treasure – their words and memories about their time in the program. Jean Francois Seide (charter class) was there to remind us of some of the realities of that first year, for we certainly had a steep learning curve! I am glad we can now laugh about how lost we often felt (or literally were) in that first year – and I am grateful for all the learning that has come from it.
Charter Class with NPHI Leadership in 2011.
Those first students: JF, Emir, Wendy, Julissa, Digyana were the pioneers of this program and their legacy is strong. I am thankful for them and their willingness to “go with the flow” as we learned together during that first year. We are also grateful to the supporters and host families who joined us as we got our feet under us along the way. The vision of this program takes time to fulfill, and the results may not always be quickly seen. But, that first class is clear evidence something beautiful is at work here: JF is headed to Oxford to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Emir is in his 5th year of Medical School in Monterrey, Wendy is finishing her degree in Linguistics and runs the Girl’s Home at NPH Honduras during weekend and vacations, Julissa is a fabulous mother and works at a bilingual call center in Guatemala City as well as being involved in the Hermanos Mayores Group for NPH Guatemala, and Digyana lives in Tegucigalpa with her husband Denis and is the lead Montessori teacher at NPH Honduras. It is stunning to me to see the good work they are each doing. I could go on about our other alumni as well, but instead, I will invite you again to read more about each of them here: Where are they now?
As the other alumni and students blessed me with their words, they also offered tangible gifts that I will take with me into my work as a therapist. It is a lovely way to carry them with me as I make this transition. Thank you to each and every one of you!
Seattle Institute Students from Classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Finally, a shout out to Donna Egge. Donna has believed in, and dreamt of, this program long before it even crossed my imagination. She has been a mentor to me throughout the process of getting it up and running. Donna, thank you for your passion, your wisdom, your courage, and your friendship. You have taken my late night calls when things were falling apart (and helped me see they really weren’t), you have challenged (and oh, so gently guided) me when I was veering off-course, you have supported me when it felt overwhelming, you have celebrated with me when the beauty of the students made my heart sing, you have done all of this and so much more. Deep, sincere gratitude to you and all you have been to me during this process.
Donna with students from the Class of 2015.
Tomorrow, we begin the real work of transitioning to our next Program Director, Jacqueline Shrader. You will hear more from Jacqueline in the coming weeks and months, for now please join me in welcoming her into our NPH Seattle family. Jacqueline can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NPH Seattle Community met Jacqueline at Graduation o July 3rd!
It has been my honor and deep privilege to be on this journey with you. I can continue to be reached for NPH-related topics through August at email@example.com. Otherwise, you can find me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace and All Good Things (Paz y Bien),