In 2009, I sat with a colleague from NPH Bolivia exploring the possibility of our kids studying in the Northwest. We sat near the lush Amazon River Basin, the stars overhead allowing us perhaps to dream a little more than within the constraints of our offices, or the pressures of our daily NPH work would permit. And so, on the back of a napkin we jotted down ideas. A vision for a formation program that would prepare our young people to become agents for positive change in their home communities; whether within NPH homes as directors, caregivers, nurses or social workers – or within the context of one of NPH’s many outreach programs in the local communities. We talked of the enormous potential within our young people, their amazing capacity to serve and love well. We imagined giving them time to explore their unique leadership styles, better understand their strengths and weaknesses, grow in their faith, increase their self-esteem and learn a second language. We envisioned sharing with them a variety of tools and strategies that would help them in their personal journey, and creating a safe space for them to learn from each other.
Two years later, many wonderful people have contributed their time, resources and ideas to this vision. And so, we stand ready to welcome our Charter Cohort of the International Leadership Program to Seattle. Five amazing young people from four NPH homes will arrive during September. They were chosen from over 25 applications received from seven NPH homes. The application process included essay questions, as well as submitting a resume and letters of reference. The applications were screened by NPH National Directors as well as other people within NPH and Friends of the Orphans. All the participants that were chosen have expressed the desire to serve their NPH family in the future in some capacity.
During the coming nine months, these emerging leaders will engage in experiences and activities purposefully designed to encourage their growth and development as leaders. An amazing community is taking shape around this vision; including our wonderful host families who will welcome the pequeños into their homes, former NPH volunteers who will offer support for retreats as well as a peer group for the participants, the NW Friends of the Orphans office stepping up as mentors and rallying to fundraise for this program, and many local church leaders, leadership trainers and facilitators who will teach in their area of expertise and who are already lending their support and wisdom to the program.
The structure of the program will include the following:
Language Study: At the Seattle Central Community College English Institute
Leadership Development: The participants will engage in weekly meetings focused on leadership and personal growth. Retreats, along with attendance at workshops and panels spread throughout the year will deepen the experience and provide additional training.
Mentoring/Community: The participants will be connected with local mentors who will encourage and accompany them now and then continue to support them as they return to their home countries. We will strive to develop an intentional, service-oriented and globally-minded community for encouragement, sharing and learning.
Service/Practical Experience: The participants will have ample opportunity for job-shadowing, assisting with fundraising efforts at Friends of the Orphans and sharing the NPH story with a variety of audiences as the year progresses.
If you would like to learn more about the program, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
NPH International Leadership Program Director