The Seattle Institute is a program of NPH International which began in the Fall of 2011 with a charter class of five Pequeños/as from four NPH homes. Currently, the Institute welcomes a class of six Pequeños/as each September for a 10-month personal formation and study program.
The mission of this program is to continue Father Wasson’s legacy by developing a future generation of leaders for our NPH homes. Our curriculum is based on principles of servant leadership and grounded in our NPH philosophy. The small size of the program offers the capacity to engage in challenging and rigorous personal and group work, as well as the ability to adapt to the needs of each student.
Each participant lives with a homestay, works with a mentor in their profession, participates in job-shadowing experiences, and studies English at a local college. Additionally, the participants participate in weekly leadership courses, weekend workshops, service activities, and several longer retreats during the year. They are coached in their personal growth by the program director and others who support the program in Seattle. The participants learn about and support the fundraising efforts of the local NPH USA office in Bellevue (near Seattle), learning to tell the NPH story and share our work with donors. Projects throughout the year offer the opportunity to practice their growing skill set, reflect on mistakes, and try out new ideas. A partnership with another local nonprofit, iLEAP, provides intensive training in global leadership throughout the year.
In all we do, we keep our NPH family central. As we widen our perspectives and learn new ideas, we wonder how they could be implemented at NPH or how they may help us be a more effective leaders within NPH. We do not seek perfection, but rather a form of leadership in which the pequeños/as try new things, stumble, explore, make mistakes, learn from them, learn to receive and give feedback, and then try again. It is a style of teaching that means the program must adapt each year in order to attend to the unique needs of each participant – while at the same time holding to the core values and beliefs of the NPH family. It is a path that leads to more authentic leadership as we help each other, grow together, and work for the good of our NPH family. Each year, the students in the program leave their mark in Seattle – helping the program grow and evolve and remain focused on our vision and objectives.
Our vision is to continue to grow a community of diverse, creative, well-prepared leaders for the future of our NPH family.
The work we do together throughout the year comes together in five integrated areas. By engaging in a wide-variety of learning experiences and opportunities accompanied by individual and group reflections, the participants work towards growth in the following five areas: (“TRACK”):
- Teamwork: Leaders work together.
- Results: Leaders take initiative to get results.
- Self-Awareness: Leaders know who they are.
- Communication: Leaders are listeners. Leaders are able to clearly communicate their ideas.
- Knowledge: Leaders understand how organizations function.
Teamwork: Leaders work together.
- Our participants will increase their ability to collaborate with others who are different from themselves. They work to improve their relational/interpersonal skills, facilitation skills, listening skills, and problem solving skills. They learn to give and receive feedback, and to engage conflict in ways that move a group forward.
- This goal is worked on through: mentoring, group work/projects and meetings, living with host families, support from former NPH volunteers, collaboration with NPH USA staff and boards, community gatherings, faith practices, individual leadership coaching, collaboration with iLEAP, service projects, workshops, and retreats.
Results: Leaders take initiative to get results.
- Our participants grow in their ability to take initiative, to be creative problem-solvers, and to be agents of positive change for their communities/NPH family. They will learn to ask questions/listen, to be curious, to observe/analyze, and to claim their own power to notice and then respond to the needs and injustices they encounter. Our participants also learn how to be engaged, life-long learners.
- This goal is worked on through: living with host families, mentoring, group projects, service projects in response to needs they see in the Seattle community during their time here, their proposals for projects within their NPH home, engagement in leaving their mark on this program, collaboration with iLEAP, goal setting practices, and individual leadership coaching.
Self-Awareness: Leaders know who they are.
- Our participants will engage the following questions during their time in Seattle in order to grow in their self-awareness: Who am I?, Who am I becoming as a leader?, What am I uniquely gifted to offer the world?, What are my strengths, weaknesses?, What is my story, where am I from, where am I going?, How can I use my experiences for the good of others?, What am I interested in personally and professionally and how am I growing in those areas?, What do I believe about myself, my community, NPH, the world, God?, What is my cultural lens through which I see the world? (among other questions that come up in the course of their work!).
- This goal is worked on through retreats, Healing Arts Toolkit workshops, cultural immersion, job-shadow experiences, mentoring, host family stay, individual and group reflection, giving/receiving feedback, individual presentations/study, collaboration with Perennial, 1:1 coaching with program director, workshops, mental health care, independent study, cultural immersion, pastoral care with program chaplain, etc…
Communication: Leaders are listeners. Leaders are able to clearly communicate their ideas.
- Our participants will learn English and inter-cultural communication skills. Additionally, they will increase their skills in public speaking, telling the NPH story, and using technology.
- This goal is work on through workshops, collaboration with iLEAP, work with NPH-USA, individual speech coaching, courses at Seattle Central College, host family stay, mentoring, individual presentations, and group work.
Knowledge: Leaders understand how organizations function.
- Our participants will increase their business knowledge and grow in their understanding of how NPH functions from an international perspective. They will learn about decision making, other nonprofits, financials, technology, goal setting, planning, motivation, and being inquisitive. Additionally, they will grow in their management skills, crisis intervention skills, and scheduling abilities.
- This goal is worked on through college-level coursework, workshops, job-shadowing, mentoring, host families, collaboration with Perennial, work with NPH USA, attendance at events/panels, book studies and business site visits.
Some of our Seattle Institute graduates return to NPH and begin working for us immediately. Other Seattle Institute alumnae can be found pursuing university degrees in areas such as social work, international business, psychology, and education. Others are working in their communities, raising children, and finding unique and creative ways to share their love and knowledge with others wherever they are. Wherever they end up, our hope is always that they will remain part of our NPH family and live out Father Wasson’s vision of his grown children caring for future generations of children in need. At the Seattle Institute, we understand there are many ways to do that and we embrace walking with our alumni as they find their unique way in this big NPH family.
In the 1970’s in Yarnell, AZ, Father Wasson began a program for Pequeños to study English. Many of our current leaders participated in this program and others around Mexico, the USA and Europe. More recently, the Family Services Team of NPHI continued Father Wasson’s vision of his children growing up to be the leaders of our family. Beginning locally, every NPH home now has a leadership group. From these groups, grew the International Leadership Workshop which is held every year in one of our Central American homes for 40-50 young people who wish to continue to improve their leadership abilities. Finally, in 2010 the Family Services Team began the ground work for the Leadership Institute in the United States. The charter class of this institute began their studies in Seattle in the Fall of 2011.
A longtime dream of many, the Seattle Institute hopes to grow into a formation program that will 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 will continue the formation these young people have already received through the local leadership programs in their home countries. 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 will share with them a variety of tools and strategies that will help them in their personal journey, and create a safe space for them to learn from each other. Many wonderful people have contributed their time, resources and ideas to this vision. And so, in September 2011 we welcomed our Charter Class of the International Leadership Institute to Seattle.