Jean Francois’ First Quarter

I was not disappointed when I first step out the airplane. It was raining already. Before coming to Seattle, I asked what is common to Seattle? I know most of the states in the US are famous for something: Arizona has the Grand Canyon, Miami has the Everglades, and Seattle has Mount Rainier and the Space Needle. I was told to add it is raining and cloudy all the time.

However, two days later, I see it’s sunny and I was impressed to see the beauty of Seattle. I love how quiet it is here, how clean the air is, and I like downtown. There are a lot activities going on, like in Haiti. Also I came in a great season, even if it is the coldest one, because I like to see nature, the environment with the trees’ leaves changing different colors. Woahhhhh, awesome!!

My first week in Seattle was overwhelming. First, during my orientation, I heard too many mostly Asian names that are long and that I wasn’t used to. Second, I have to adapt to the new life like using the bus, know where to get off or get on, which one to take. Then, adapt to my new diet. All the foods are different, now I like the Thai food by the way. Finally, I have to adapt to my new schedule of waking up in the morning, going to school, and studying. I hadn’t done this in two years.

I do feel homesick already. I dream about Haiti every single night. For my homesickness, I thought it will be healed by meeting new friends at the school.

However, it became worse as I am the only one from Haiti. The other students mostly stick together and talk their own languages. I never understand them so there was no reason to stay among them.

Anyway, I was focusing on my lessons, homework, and have fun when possible. I like going to Snoqualmie (in the mountains), Space Needle, EMP (music museum), movies, and so forth. I am surrounded by such a lovely family (Friends of the Orphans) and I am hosted by a lovely one too. Every morning they make my breakfast and prepare my lunch. It was very helpful for me, since I was used to going to sleep late and waking up late. They help me by talking to me, what can make me strong. We shared experiences and I really appreciate it.

At school I was influenced by the other students who are mostly shy and afraid to talk, not well self-confident. I was afraid of my reading class, because I did not do very well but not too bad. By the end of the quarter I was able to shake the shyness the others shared and take my own way by talking, asking questions and participating. I learned a lot and it helped me to be confident again and not feel too homesick. It also helped me to be the Top Student of all of my 4 classes and I will graduate from ESL (English as a Second Language) next quarter.

What is the point of the influence discussion? The point is that sometimes you are not doing well among a group because you are being them, not you!! I learned you have to try to be you and then see what you can do in the group as yourself.

Thank you all for this opportunity!

Jean Francois

Servant Leadership Retreat

The week before Christmas, the Leadership Group had the opportunity to participate in a retreat at the Hearth (Thank you Linda and Jim Hunt and the Krista Foundation for your hospitality!) in Spokane, Washington.

Our theme: “Serving out of our brokenness” guided the week.  We spent time learning more about servant leadership, our own stories, our strengths, areas for growth, spiritual gifts, self-care and group dynamics.

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Rituals and activities such as the washing of the feet, life mapping, listening circles, moments to lift each other up in prayer, a special ‘baleada’ feast on Father Wasson’s birthday, and a group  project to consider and design a future NPH home (fictitiously set in Brazil) brought us together as a smaller NPH family here in the Northwest.

It was truly a sacred time and we all left both humbled by the experience and ready to continue learning and developing our skills in order to better love and serve others.

Our sincere gratitude to Joe Cotton for co-facilitating this retreat and gently encouraging depth and transformation in all of us!

Stay tuned for blog posts coming from each of the participants.  They will be writing about their experiences during Christmas as well as their learning at the retreat and during their last three months in Seattle…

Fall Quarter Comes to a Close

 

It is hard to believe that our first quarter at Seattle Central ended last Friday!  All of the leadership participants put in their best efforts and it is clear when you enter into conversation with any of them that they are learning quickly!

 

 

Special congratulations to Jean Francois who was selected as a TOP STUDENT in International Student Programs for Fall 2011.  The school newsletter stated: “The students were selected by multiple instructor nominations for excellence in participation, performance, and achievement in the SCIE program this quarter. They have enriched the learning process for everyone!”  Super work JF, we are very proud of you!

 

 

We are also very proud of Emir for his hard work which will allow him to skip an entire level next quarter and move directly into the College Bridge Program.

All the participants are looking forward to spending their vacation with host families, new friends and mentors in Seattle; as well as the chance to support NPH at the local Friends of the Orphans office and practice their new English skills!

 

Wendy Spends Thanksgiving with Medley Family in Portland

Wendy joined us late on Wednesday night for the Thanksgiving weekend.  It was a weekend packed full of family gatherings, some sightseeing, dinner with friends, and time to just relax.  Here are the highlights:

Thanksgiving dinner for 12.  We were joined by my parents (also sponsors for a child in Honduras), our good friends Megan and Paul and their sons, and Megan’s mom Pam.  We had a “Turkey egg hunt” (really, why does an Easter rabbit leave chocolate filled eggs and not the Thanksgiving turkey?), a rousing round of turkey bingo, and lots of great food and company.

The Macy’s Parade.  Wendy loved the llamas dressed as reindeer, the beautiful Clydesdale horses, and the marching bands.  My boys loved the candy that was tossed their way and seeing Santa at the end.

Sushi.  It turns out Wendy does not really like sushi; luckily the restaurant also served fried chicken.

Games and dinners with close friends, all of whom also think Wendy is adorable.

Tickle monster.  It’s a universal game played by kids and adults that transcends language.  The kids ran, while Wendy chased them until she caught and tickled them.

Ice skating.  We all spent the first laps around the rink clinging to the wall, but by the end we were not embarrassing ourselves too much.

By the end of the weekend we were all joyfully exhausted, and a few tears were shed when Wendy left on the train.  She brought a sparkling joy to our Thanksgiving celebration, and we were again reminded of how lucky we are to have her in our lives, and how lucky she is to participate in the leadership program.