Self-Awareness: The Key to Being a Good Leader

Darich is one of our Nicaraguan participants. He decided to write a reflection about the four days spent in iLeap in December, covering topics such as self-awareness, triggers, and social enterprise. Darich wanted to write about his experiences and takeaways from the workshop–in his own English!: 

Being a leader is not just about IMG_6465having followers or dictating orders about what, why or when to do something. Being a good leader is about knowing what is happening into yourself and how that affect to yourself and your surround.

Almost four months have passed from we came to Seattle, and it has been an amazing time to meet new people, learn English at the college, know new cultures, but above all it’s been a time to learn new skills about Leadership. The most important point of this program, which we are (Darlyn, Ever, Farid, María, Yomara & me) involved in, is to form true leaders capable to serve and lead in our NPH homes. More than a program to learn English, it’s a leadership program.

 

Workshops, retreats, and visiting some organizations have just been some of the activities which we have had to get the necessary knowledge to understand and learn how to be a good Leader.

One of the most amazing and helpful experiences that we have had to understand in a better way what does mean being a Leader, it has been the visit of four days in iLEAP. For a better understanding, iLEAP is an organization which its purpose is to create more social justice and equity in the world and to lift up and sustain the community-based leaders who are the center of social change. iLEAP believes that, if we grow, transform, and connect these people that it will lead to stronger communities, countries, and less human suffering in the world.

These days that we spent in iLEAP were more than a nice time. It was a time to share and learn how to trust in ourselves to be a true leader in our NPH homes, families, countries and our own lives. As leaders and pequeños, all of us have different storIMG_6467ies and different skills which make us unique. Therefore, it is really difficult to take the right decisions when you are not conscious about what could be the effects of our actions. I consider, that is the reason why iLEAP is very focus in the Self-Awareness to be a good leader.

Also being in iLEAP, I learned that leadership is not only about yourself; it is also about how to work with other people. For this, it’s necessary to build trust, but how do you build trust? Trust is built by a little at a time; learning to trust to each other, and always reminding that everyone has something important and different to give.

It’s important to remember that Father Wasson dreamt to see pequeños leading in NPH houses, but the thing most important was to see pequeños really worried and committed about looking for the best for his kids, for his family. Now, it’s our time to learn how to be a good leader. Therefore, it is not easy because everyone has different stories which many time stop us to follow and be good leaders. That’s why I believe it’s really important the Self-Awareness.

Knowing about ourselves makes easier to identify our strengths and weakness. This, at the same time, makes us aware about our own decisions, and how this impact our surroundings. Father Wasson said: “It is surprising what you can do in a lifetime if you just do it a little at a time”.

During the time in iLEAP, we were talking about the different styles of leadership, and we tried to identify what kind of leader we thought we were. It was interesting to know that everyone has different ways to lead. Some of the guys said that they are directive, others said they are visionary, or strategic, or collaborative. Also, everyone shared what kind of leader would like to be. The truth is that if we want to get something or be a kind of person or leader, it’s not enough wish it. The main key to get what we want is to take actions and work hard for it. Thus, many times, we are not able to do this because we are so confident with ourselves being in our comfort zone that we rather do not take risks.

If we really want to be leaders and learn what we are capable to do, it is necessary to get out of our comfort zone and try new experiences. It does not matter if you make mistakes; this is a way to learn about life and yourself. We have to remember that we grow with every challenge that we take.

Personally, I believe this was a great chance to be trust with myself, but it was also a IMG_6466 (1)chance to learn about others and trust on them. And remember, it’s okay to feel afraid sometimes because this is also a way to learn. Feeling afraid, you can encourage to yourself to do things that you probably consider impossible. Taking risks, understanding triggers, having a clear and compelling picture of a desired future, and taking actions are some keys to get a Self-Awareness, and once you are self-awareness you can be a true leader.

My Homestay

Maria, one of our Honduran participants, wanted to write about her homestay experience so far. She shares the following, in her own English:

One of the best experiences while we are in Seattle as a student of the Seattle institute program is having the opportunity to share your time with a family from Seattle. At the beginning it is a little bit hard, because we must get use to the life in the USA, but we are so lucky that the amazing people in our houses help us to get thru this big step.

I think that for us, as pequeños, comes a little hard at the beginning because we do not use to live in a small family, as you well know we share home with 300 or more siblings at the same time. Sounds crazy I know, but it is one of the best things in life. So, when you came here and start get a lot of attention, help, and love; you start feel a little uncomfortable because it is something hard to get when you live with 300 siblings. But then your mind starts to change letting you know that you deserve that, and you start to accept it. So, you start to feel as a real member of your family. And it is in that time that you start to be more grateful, because you just don’t find someone that allows you to stay in their house, they also listen to you, they ask you how was your day, they give you rides; even if you are going somewhere far away in the middle of nowhere. They make you feel like you are part of their home and even the21369449_1373692449396539_205639336522730743_n dog starts loving you (this is one of my favorite parts).

 

In these short tree months, that we have been sharing with our host family, I have learned a lot. One of my favorite learning so far: is that if I want to meet a little bit more of the people I care; or I want to know, I have to say yes to every invitation they make me, even if they ask me if I want some pasote and I heard pozole, and when I get to their house I’m waiting the pozole and they came with a weird green plant. So, the secret is say yes and take it…!!

 

 

 

I’m glad that our program has this amazing people that helps us with this transition and make everything easier for all of us. I just want to say that without you all, this wouldn’t be the same. For all the great job that you are doing and being part of our lives in this special time. I want to be especially thankful with all of you: Mona and John Fonseca, Tom and Catherine Boysen, Peach and David Jack, Karen and Dave Fitton, and Roger and Judy Paulsen, I love you all, but I have to say that I have the most perfect and great family of all: The Martinez (Terre and Martin). I’m so lucky to have them and to share with them seven months more of this great experience.

 

After all, the best part of these is that even is just one-year experience, we all know that we will be family forever, because this kind of relationships will not break when we go back to our countries.

Maria G.

Yomara talks about Seattle Central College

For her blog post, Yomara wanted to write a bit about why she chose to apply to the Seattle Institute and how her experience at Seattle Central has been. She also wrote in her own English!

My name is Yomara Hernandez and I am from Nicaragua. I came to NPH when I was eleven years old and I grew up there. During my thirteen years in NPH, I have learned a lot about myself and strive to become a good person. For that reason, I decided to participate in the third Leadership Conference in NPH Guatemala. I really loved it. After that, I became a much better individual and started helping my NPH family.

After a few years, I learned about the great opportunity to participate in the NPH Leadership Institute Program in Seattle. It was just six months ago when I was chosen to be part of this amazing program. I was extremely excited! Although, I was feeling scared and nervous about the distance and the time away from my family, I decided to do it because I wanted to be a better person.

I came to Seattle two and a half months ago and our first quarter started two weeks after I arrived. In the beginning, I had many thoughts about all the international students, their behavior, and their interactions with me. I was thinking about that because of our different cultures, languages, and traditions.

Now, I feel so comfortable with all my classmates. They are friendly, crazy, funny, and so warm. Now, I am learning, I am sharing, and I am creating new and wonderful experiences.

Seattle Central College is a place where I can study, find new friends, and interchange knowledge. My first quarter has really been very interesting and I hope to continue learning.

Adapting to Seattle

Throughout the year, each participant will offer a couple of reflections on their time in Seattle. We start with Darlyn, our participant from Guatemala. 

My time in Seattle has been very interesting so far. It is helpful to remember that I come from a country that is conservative in terms of our culture. I’ve always tried to see things from a different point of view there, and I’ve been grateful to the people who have helped give me a wider perspective. Seattle’s diversity of cultures and perspective makes you feel like you’re traveling to many parts of the worlds all at the same time. I don’t have the words yet to describe it.

Seattle has also been challenging. It is tough to start a new life completely, but know that there are many new opportunities that will help me grow. I am more relaxed by knowing that I have peers who speak my language, even though I didn’t know any of the other five that are in the group before I started this year!

The first few days in class have been very interesting. My class is very diverse in culture, and I am the only latina. Our accents are very different from each other, and make it hard to understand each other. I now have been here almost 3 months, and I feel more relaxed. I am more confident in my public speaking and trust my peers more. Yes, it has been a journey full of emotions, but it has been an incredible experience. I know that I still have much to learn. I am ready to continue challenging myself though!

Thanks!

Darlyn

 

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Welcome, Class of 2018!

We are so excited to have the class of 2018 here in Seattle! So far, they’ve been settling in well, completing orientation for the program, Seattle Central, and moving in with their homestays. It’s going to be a great year!

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Hello! I’m Farid, and I’m from Honduras. I’m so happy to be here in Seattle. I want to thank God for allowing me to be here and to all the people who support the program so that we (pequeños) have this fantastic opportunity. Thanks for all of your support! May God bless you!

 

IMG_6412I’m Yomara, from Nicaragua. I’m excited to be here and spend time with different people, learn from different experiences, and grow as a person. I can’t wait to share all that I learn with my country, family, and brother and sisters. I will serve them all with love!

 

 

IMG_6418Hi, I’m Darich from Nicaragua. I am excited and thankful to be here. I am sure it will be a great experience sharing knowledge with different people, who will help and teach us how to be a good leaders in our family of NPH. I know sometimes it will be a little bit hard but I know with the help of God and the people here everything will be great.

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Hi! I’m Darlyn from Guatemala. I’m so excited to start this new experience! I know this is a great opportunity and I have to take advantage of this because it will surely make me a better person.  When I return to my country, I want to make a difference for my brothers and sisters in NPH, and the rest of the world.

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Buenas! I’m Maria, from Honduras. I’m excited to learn more about leadership, develop the tools to make me a better person, and learn to be more present to others. If I learn to be a better leader, I’ll be more able to support my home.

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Hello! I’m Ever, and I’m from Bolivia.  I wanted to come to Seattle to experience growth as an adult. I want to develop my professional and personal skills to keep serving my NPH family, which is what Fr. Wasson wanted all of us to do. Gracias!

Letter from the Director

Greetings!

I am writing you all after finishing a fruitful and growth-filled year with the NPH Seattle Institute. For those of you who are not familiar with the Seattle Institute, each year Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos selects six young adult pequeños from a competitive application process. We invite them to live in Seattle for ten months, staying with a homestay, attending English classes at Seattle Central College, and engaging in leadership formation through meetings, workshops, and retreats. On June 25th, we celebrated the graduation of the class of 2017, and a total of thirty-three graduates over the last six years.

One of the reasons I was first attracted to working for NPH was the way that we invest in leadership formation and empower leaders from within the organization. For example, we have leadership groups in the houses that focus on empowering girls and teenagers. We annually offer a Youth Leadership conference, where all the houses send pequeños to participate in a weeklong workshop together on leadership. In Seattle, we offer the Seattle Institute and the NPH Global Leadership program, which partners with local organization iLEAP to train and develop our hermanos mayores (older brothers and sisters) and staff working in the homes.

While creating safe spaces to reflect and engage with others, these programs are an invitation to grow personally and professionally. Participants spend much time celebrating the joys and pondering the challenges that face NPH. Due to the length of the Seattle Institute, we are able to spend time covering many topics, such as self-awareness, communication, growing interpersonal skills, and leadership. I admire our students’ courage and boldness in examining their past, discussing their present, and imagining what their future paths could hold under the pretext of leadership.

This year in the Seattle Institute, we split the year into five different sections: transition, teambuilding, self-awareness, professional skills, and personal vocation. Some of the projects that give students opportunities to demonstrate what they’ve learned were the Christmas Party in December, their speeches given at NPH USA events, and their final projects through iLEAP, our partner organization focusing in global leadership. Throughout the year, they attend English classes at Seattle Central College. Three of our students were so advanced that they took college-level humanities classes at SCC. Through five different retreats, weekly Saturday formational and check-in meetings, and various events in Seattle, the students are challenged to improve their English, learn and employ leadership knowledge, and work on their own identity. I am incredibly proud of the success of the six this year—which you can read more about in other blog posts.

The month-long Global Leadership program with iLEAP focused on similar themes of professional growth, improving English, and leadership within their NPH homes. The nine participants worked on professional growth, imagined future projects for their respective homes, and talked about the importance of self-care. Additionally, they were able to visit three Seattle businesses that center their mission on social enterprise and community development. In their final presentations, they all commented on feeling re-engergized, more dedicated, and excited about implementing all they had gleaned from the program in their lives and and sharing with their NPH colleagues.

All of our programs focus on servant leadership—with the word servant being key. Too often, the standard metric of leadership is associated with prestige and authority. Rather, we focus on everyone’s ability to be a leader, to affect change, and to contribute to his or her local communities. For example, we talk about the hot summer of 1954 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where a little boy robbed Fr. Wasson. Instead of being angry or scared, Fr. Wasson decided to put fear of this little boy aside in order to practice compassion and love. Not only was this the beginning of NPH, but it also serves as a fantastic model of decision making where compassion reigns over fear and begins a movement.

I am proud to work for an organization that believes in cultivating experiences for our youth and staff. I believe that the seeds planted through any combination of these opportunities come to fruition in beautiful ways. The exposure to a broader landscape of ideas and people that happens in Seattle enriches the participants’ ability to lead in a flexible, responsible and compassionate manner. Keep an eye out for these wonderful young adults!

Paz y bien,

Jacqueline Shrader

jacqueline.shrader@nph.org

 

Skiing and Changing the World

Hello everyone. My name is David Garcia and I am from Guatemala. Today I want to express my gratitude to all of you who contributed to make this year possible and share my experience with you. I am very grateful because I was able to be a part of this amazing Seattle Leadership Institute Program.

I knew that these 10 months wouldn’t be easy, that I would have to make a big sacrifice. I knew that it would be a different and a new chapter of my life—attending school in English, attending leadership formation classes, learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. And you know what? It’s been almost 10 months since I came to Seattle and now it feels like home.

Throughout this year, I met a lot of really amazing people, it was something that truly touched my heart. Even if they didn’t know NPH, they believed in us, they believed that we would be successful, and that we had the ability to change the world.

When I look back, I can see that I am not the same person that I was before. To be honest, the Seattle Institute has made a huge difference in my personal life. I have learned about my strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I believe that I have the ability to work well with others and I am a social person. I know that I am a leader who wants to make a difference. I want and need to continue improving my confidence in myself, my listening skills, and my public speaking.

I want to mention the work that iLEAP has been doing with us, they helped me to look inside myself and discover the potential that I have and can offer to NPH and my community. iLEAP has also taught us that a leader is someone who has the ability to influence others and guide their community.

I have had a lot of favorite moments during my time here in Seattle. For example, I had the opportunity to see snow for the first time—and I went skiing! It was so fun and I know now that I like snow. We don’t have snow in Guatemala. I experienced many new things in Seattle and I am so grateful for that. I want to continue experiencing new things, even when I’m back home in Guatemala.

Now I’m looking forward to returning home and continuing my studies in the university. I am studying Psychology so that one day I can start my own counseling clinic that will help people in need. When I go home, one of my goals is to re-open the youth group in NPH Guatemala in order to keep Father’s Wasson philosophy alive. I believe it is very important for us as pequeños and pequeñas, to never lose sight of this philosophy, of NPH’s purpose—to be productive members of our society and to continue serving our communities.

I also want to give a special thanks to Jacqueline who always believed in us. She is an amazing person and always listened deeply and great advice.

To conclude, thank you all of you who were there every single moment, the amazing leadership group, our host families for your kindness hospitality and your patience. I especially want to thank the Fonsecas and Saldanas for welcoming me into their homes and introducing me to Seattle.

Thank you everyone.

Samuel’s Final speech

Hi everyone. I am Samuel Jocelyn and I am from Haiti.

I want to talk about how I started my journey; I mean, what I have learned during my time in the Seattle Institute. I have come a long way to a place where I could not even imagine before this program, a place where I know I can become the best version of me; I can proudly say that I am able to identify who I am as a human being and as a leader. I am now confident that I am on the right path to become the man that I have always dream about and to be honest the Seattle Institute has played a big role in that.

My experience in Seattle has completely changed me. Some of my favorite experiences have been living with my host family, when I say my host family—I really mean my family. Without knowing me, they accepted me into the family. Being able to able to live with them has been a true blessing. Also, getting to know the other 5 students and learning from them. Being able to work with iLEAP and spending time with people who work for NPH USA, like Katie and Ross, and everyone who works in the Bellevue office. Being able to travel to various places in the US like Arizona, California, Portland and so on. I have met many people with beautiful hearts and they have all been devoted to not only teaching me, but also learning from me. I am very grateful for all of these experiences and how they have shaped me.

This year, in Seattle, I have learned how important it is to be truly honest with myself. I have also learned that where I come from does not really matter, but rather where I want to go and what I want to do in life is what is important.

I have had the opportunity these past 10 months to really learn about myself, my strengths and weaknesses. Some of my strengths are being positive no matter what the situation, being able to communicate clearly with others; and being able to motivate others. I want to use these strengths to help others grow and believe in themselves; to let them know that they have to focus on what is important for them because if they have faith and trust in themselves, they can accomplish anything in life. By helping others realize their goals and dreams, they can also help me to achieve mine.

I want to improve my team work abilities and I want to grow my confidence in taking action. I will practice growing my team work skills by accepting the opinions of others fairly, being friendly and open when working with them, and sharing what I know. I know alone I cannot do everything, therefore team work and asking for help when needed is very important.

To me, leadership means that I only win, if I help others win. Being a leader is not only focusing on myself, but also thinking about how I can help those around me be better and achieve greatness in life. This is how I define leadership. I believe a good leader is a person who is devoted to working with others and helping them to realize their goals and dreams. A good leader is a person who sees himself as a servant and is ready to do anything to see others happy and achieve their goals. I want to be a leader that others are happy to work with. A leader who makes a positive influence in their lives.

I used to think leadership meant alone I can do everything, but now I truly understand that it is a team effort. When I go home to Haiti, I want to keep working with the kids of NPH. I will to be a role model for them. I want to let them know that anything is possible if they have faith and work hard. This is important to me because I will rise by helping others. Father Wasson once said what is “most important for me is that my children practice charity because if they love they will be loved. This will make their work efficient and effective, they will exercise and influence on their own children and on their society and they will reach salvation.” My goal is to be a role model for those who look up to me, to be a positive influence, and to live the philosophy of Father Wasson.

When faced with challenges in the future, I want to remember of this experience which is the Seattle Institute. To conclude, I want to thank God, my host family, iLEAP, NPH USA, Jacqueline and all of you who make this program possible. You have all played a big role in my journey in Seattle. To be honest, without this program I’m not sure I would know how to be a good leader. Thank you to those around me who have been good examples of leadership to me. I learned so much myself and what it means to be a leader. Thank you so much to all of you and may God bless you always.

Saravia’s Graduation Speech

Hello all my name is Saravia and I am from Honduras. I am very grateful to be here today, in front of you, not to say goodbye, but to say see you later. I am very grateful for the program and for the people who lead it and make the experience possible.

One of my favorite experiences in Seattle has been going to school. I have learned a lot and I am very proud of the goals I have achieved, like earning the “Top Student” award. Another one of my favorite experiences has been living with my host family. I am very grateful for you, and I feel lucky to be your goddaughter. I want to say thank you for opening the doors of your home and your hearts.

This year in Seattle, I have learned that I am capable of demonstrating my skills as a leader, and can serve as an example for my other brothers and sisters at the NPH Honduras home. One of my strengths that I have discovered through this time here is that I am able to help others without expecting anything in return. This inspires me to return home and better serve my NPH family and community.

I know that to grow as a leader, it is essential to continue improving my skills and one example is teamwork. Life is a journey, so day by day, in my experiences, I will continue to learn and grow.

To me, leadership means more than standing in front of a group and being in control. True leadership is accompanying your team members, and working side by side. I strongly believe that a good leader is someone who is able to put themselves in the shoes of others. Someone who strives to benefit the whole group, rather than just themselves. This is the kind of leader I want to be.

I want to be more than just a guide, instead, a companion for my other brothers and sisters. This means that I must improve in my relationships with others, learn to be vulnerable, and how to love unconditionally. My time in Seattle has also taught me to fight for equality, social justice, and freedom of expression. This has had a huge impact on me, encouraging me to love who I want love more openly.

When I return to my country, I want to help create a safe space for kids who are marginalized in their communities. I will also continue with college and graduate with a degree in electrical engineering. After this, I want to work in my field somewhere in Tegucigalpa, to acquire experience outside of (the protection of NPH).  Stepping out of my comfort zone will help me grow as a leader for when I return to serve my NPH family that has given me the opportunities to become the person I am today. It is important to me to return to NPH and serve my family to give thanks for all the support they have given me over the years.

I am very grateful for all the people who in one way or another make this program and NPH a success. Thank you to Donna, Jacquelyn, iLEAP, my host family, and all my fellow leadership students. Thank you for being part of this experience with me and especially for believing in me.

 

 

 

Jimmy’s final speech

DSC_0543Hi everyone, I am Jimmy from Nicaragua. This year in Seattle has helped me to discover in a deep way that we all are the same. That is to say nobody is more than another; and nobody is less than another. I know that every single person is unique, and that we should all strive to be our best selves. I have realized that we all have to love each other and support each other because every person is struggling with something.

As most of you already know, I am a quiet person.  This trait is useful because it helps me to listen more carefully to others. I am also very aware of what going on around me.  I know that I have to be careful with this awareness because sometimes it can turn to judgement, which is not good. I want to use my awareness for understanding,  instead of judgement, so I am able to help people and be supportive.  The most important reason for first knowing myself is that it helps me to be aware of my own behavior toward those surrounding me.

A leader is someone who supports others.  A leader has difficult conversations with people in peaceful way. A leader creates a safe environment for those surround him or her.  A leader serves others without expecting anything in return.  But, to me, most importantly, a good leader is humble. This is the kind of leader I will strive to be.

Being in Seattle has been hard at times because I have been immersed in a new culture and surrounded by a new language; However, it has also been fun because I was able to do activities that I had never done before. For example, the gala, going skiing, spending time with my host family here in Seattle and then with some of their relatives in Arizona and Wenatchee.  I played golf for the first time! And I have had the opportunity to have important and deep conversations with friends.

I have grown a lot as a person throughout my time here and I have also grown as a leader which means I will be able to better serve my community and my NPH family. I know that some of my areas of strength are that I am a responsible person and a good listener. I want to use these strengths to keep working with children because I believe that children are the future of our countries, and to keep our NPH family functioning well will develop good citizens and break the cycle of poverty.

When I return home, I am going to continue with my university studies and support NPH wherever they need me. My major is international relations and I hope to complete my degree in the next couple years and continue to serve my NPH family. Also, at Seattle Central, I took  some Psychology courses and I would like to continue studying.

Finally, I want to thank all the beautiful and kind people who supported me in my weaknesses, and the people who felt proud of me in my strengths –among them, my beautiful host family, The Harts, friends who gave me useful and honest advice, and those who took the time to share with me in one way or another. I love and appreciate you all and will carry you with me when I am home in Nicaragua.

Thank you.DSC_0432.