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,