Intern Alex Ozkan and the NPH Leadership Institute


For those of you who don’t know me or what I do, my name is Alex Ozkan and I am one of the two NPHI Leadership Institute Interns this year from Seattle University. I have been working with the Leadership Institute since September, and am grateful to have such a fantastic internship. I serve as a cultural partner and English tutor for the four students in the program this year as well as provide some administrative support for the Leadership Institute. Coming in, I expected my role as an intern to be a typical intern role: office work, errands, etc. However, after attending the opening mass early in the year, it became quite clear that this internship would be something different. I was greeted with home-cooked food (a rarity for a college student) and a friendly environment. I remember being in awe after returning to campus the hospitality I experienced and the number of people who truly wanted to help and support the four students in the program this year. From that point on, I realized that I was going to be welcomed into the NPH family whether I expected to or not.

From my perspective as an English tutor and cultural partner, I have seen growth and personal development in the students. From an academic perspective, the students continue to improve and make progress in the difficult language that English is. They impress every one of my friends they meet with their comprehension and conversational skills that they have developed in the past six months. Additionally, I continue to be inspired by the students’ commitment to making the world a better place and desire to help their respective homes. They express their gratitude for everything they have been given liberally and truly strive to be good servant leaders.

As for me, I have learned and grown through the experience I am getting by working for the Leadership Institute. I am learning what the culture is like in a nonprofit organization and am seeing the difficulties that come with running one—particularly with such a young organization like the Leadership Institute. I am gaining cultural awareness by working with the students and am learning the difficulties that come with working in a cross-cultural context. Surprisingly enough, I am also learning more than I expected about English, particularly some of the grammar and mechanics. This experience has also reaffirmed my desire to serve internationally at some point in my life.

The past 6 months of working with the students and the Leadership Institute have been fantastic and I look forward to interning with such a great organization through June!
Alex Ozkan
Seattle University ’15




Jacinto writes about missing his family, friends, and home:

Never in my life have I lived in another country until this opportunity. At first, I thought living in another country was the best. I thought I would have new opportunities, new friends and new things. I am in another country now and have the things I imagined, but I forgot something important: homesickness.

I have been living for five months in the United States and have learned a lot of things like English, a little bit more about leadership and other things. I have learned how to live alone. This part is so hard for me, because in NPH I have always lived with lots of people and had people around me. Sometimes here I stay at home alone and it makes me sad and I don’t know what to do.

Also, I have been in so many places. Seattle is a wonderful city. It has huge buildings, lots of trees and is a clean city. However, there is one thing that I don’t like: rain. It rains all the time and when it’s sunny is a miracle for me. I am studying English and I love the college. There are a lot of people from different parts of the world. Most of them are from Asia. It is so interesting to talk with them and learn about new cultures and learn words in different languages.

I am living with a host family, they have been my godparents for a few years and of course, they are a wonderful family. I have my own bedroom, desk, food and so many distractions like games, but even if I have a lot of things I still miss my family, NPH. It doesn’t matter how much I have, I still miss my friends because I have grown with them. They are my family, they are my life and they are everything for me. The first thing I remember when I am sad is them. Presently, I am so excited about going back to Guatemala and seeing my family again because I miss the noise, the children, my country, everything.

For me, happiness is not the things I have. Happiness is my family, it is helping them, sharing with them and loving them.

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Rodolfo Shares New Experiences in Seattle

First Rodolfo reflects on a visit to a Presbyterian church recently:

I had the opportunity to know another church that I visit often. It’s name is the Presbyterian Church. While there I could observe that wherever I am, God is our father. I liked the songs, the gospel, and the Eucharist. I want to explain about the Eucharist at this time because it is very different from what we normally do. Why is it different? Because the Eucharist is a little wine and a little piece of real bread.  I could also feel that small symbol was the body of Jesus.

I also liked the quality of people who visit this special place, everyone is friendly, energetic, I felt like I was part of the community. The most important thing is that I enjoyed the whole time I was there.

Thank you Lord for showing your creation, that where I am you are also, thank you for giving me new opportunities to appreciate all that you do. As you can see in every person that you’re in them.

Next Rodolfo writes of his wonderful day with his friends the Paulsens:

Yesterday, Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit two beautiful places — the Seattle Great Wheel, and the Seattle Aquarium.  I went with together with two people I like a lot, Roger and Judy Paulsen.  We did many activities, and I enjoyed it.   From the great wheel we could see all over Seattle – the Space Needle, the ferry boats, the stadiums, the harbor and all the tall buildings.

The aquarium was a wonderful adventure and opportunity to discover and learn about life under the sea.  Before going there I didn’t know what it was.  I thought it was a restaurant.  I saw octopus, sea horse, sea anemones, sea stars, sea otters, many kinds of fish, and my favorite fish Nemo.  The aquarium is beautiful and very interesting.  I learned about the food that is recommended for each animal.

Today, Sunday, I went to church with Roger and Judy.  I enjoyed the visit and surprised many people with my presence.  Next, I am very happy because I made pizza for us.  In the beginning I didn’t have any idea how to make pizza, but I learned.  We enjoyed the time together.

I say “Thank You” for giving me all your time and love, and being very special with me, and thank you for teaching me many things about life.  You are very kind and I will always remember you as part of my life.

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Snow Shoeing in the Cascade Mountains!

Celson shares a fun day in the snow:

I went to the mountains three weeks ago with my friends, the VanDerhoef family. My mentor Kathleen invited me to try to do Snow Shoeing. I didn’t know what that was, but I decided to go. Snow Shoeing is walking in the mountains with specials shoes on the snow. Now it is the winter season and in the mountains it is often snowing and the landscape is white, all the trees are covered with snow.

It is so beautiful. We walked in the forest, sometimes we played with snow balls and also we ate snow. There were many people including kids. When we went back we decided to take another way. We supposed that it was shorter, but we were wrong. We walked a lot, but we never found the place that we wanted. In this moment we knew that we were lost. It was necessary to use GPS, fortunately the cellphones have it. For a while I was worried because we didn’t find the the right way, also my legs started to hurt.

Finally we found the correct way and then I felt so happy. It was an amazing experience for me because I love the snow. Also I learned that I can’t eat yellow snow because is not healthy. Another lesson that I learned is that taking the shorter way doesn’t always make life easier.


Volunteering at St. Francis House

The following is a post by Doris reflecting on her experience:

St. Francis House is a place that tries to help immigrants and poor people from the United States that have few resources. This place helps them with clothes for children, young people and adults, furniture, tickets for the bus, food and toys; especially for Christmas. Volunteering in this house was a great experience. I had the opportunity to help people and to give them the things they needed. What I liked was that the people could pick whatever they needed, but there are always people checking that they don’t take more than they need.

During Christmas, this place collects toys for boys and girls of different ages with the goal that every family will have toys for their kids. Every family had a list in their hands of their kids and their ages. They had the opportunity to pick the toys for their kids and then bring them home. It was exciting to see the parents picking the best toys for their kids, hopping to get home and surprise them with the best Christmas gift.

It was an experience that taught me that in life, it is not necessary to speak the same language as somebody, but rather to have the desire and the love to be able to help.




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Tent City (Nickelsville)

By Jacinto Arias

Often we think that our lives are the worst, but it is not true. I had an experience that reminded me of this.

I went to visit a place in Seattle called “Nickelsville,” where the people only have tents to live in. There are approximately 30 families that live in this place where they survive on donations that people give them. There is a storage house in the middle of the site with food so that anyone can take food if they need it. Unfortunately, they don’t have running water or electricity, which makes their survival more complicated because water is such an indispensable requirement for life. Also, the rain complicates their lives; it is cold and fills the compound with mud. Unfortunately, Seattle is a very rainy place.

Many of the residents do not have jobs and the ones that do have jobs make very little money. This makes it difficult for them to purchase the few things they need.

At tent city, I realized that my life is easier than theirs, that I have a better house, I have clothes, I have 350 brothers and sisters, yet sometimes I still do not appreciate what I have and complain that I have too little. It makes me very sad to see other people suffering. I loved to share with the people at tent city while they gave us a tour and we talked.

I thank God for what I have and I ask God to strengthen those people so they are able to continue moving forward. Also, I know that I can help them with the little I have, because I know that happiness is found through sharing and I can do this with anyone in the world.

Through this experience, I learned to appreciate my things, to share, and above all, to thank God for what he has given me. I know that we are all brothers and sister in this blessed world.


“without shelter, people die”

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Donate a book to NPH’s future leaders For Christmas!

If you are looking for a way to support the NPH Leadership Institute this Christmas, you can donate a book and it will be hand inscribed with your dedication to our emerging leaders.  It is a great way to make a difference this Christmas! For book ideas, please check out our Amazon book list! And, thank you!

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Rodolfo Reflects on the First Months in Seattle

Since I left my country Honduras on September 8th, 2012, I have arrived in Seattle and begun my new life. First, I want to thank God for this opportunity and NPH for supporting me and forming me into a good person. I am thankful for all the people that believe in me, especially for my brothers and sisters. Lastly, I want to thank Father Wasson for considering me as a son and giving me a family.

I have learned many things while living here in Seattle. One area in particular is as a leader for my NPH family. I want to give my best effort while I study English at Seattle Central Community College. Also, I want to share my dreams and experiences from NPH. My dream is to help my NPH family because so many people have helped me. I feel happy to know so many people that want to help all the children of NPH. In the future, I want to study economics or finances. Why? Because it is a way that I can help my country and NPH. A phrase that has helped me grow as a future leader: If you want to change the world, you need to start with yourself.

Thank you for being part of my family and for reading my post, because I am NPH.


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Fr. Rick returns to Seattle!

This past Sunday the Friends of the Orphans Northwest family was blessed to have Father Rick Frechette visiting from Haiti. About seventy-five people gathered in the Rudolf family home, host family of Rodolfo, to hear Father Rick talk about the many programs of NPH Haiti. All of this year’s leadership students attended as well as charter class alum Jean Francois. Fr. Rick talked about the especially tough economic situation facing the Haiti home and programs that have brought very difficult decisions as they try to make do with less resources.

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Father Rick, on behalf of the St. Luke Foundation which helps fund the St. Luke Hospital as well as many other programs, received the prestigious Opus prize in recognition of the phenomenal impact the Hospital and the many other programs have had in the lives of thousands of Haitians. The Opus prize is a faith-based humanitarian award that gives one $1 millon award each year to a deserving organization. Here is a beautiful video put together by the Opus Prize in recognition of Fr. Rick and the St. Luke Foundation’s work:

October Kayaking in Seattle

Jacinto and Celson’s Mentors Phil VanDerhoef and Kathleen McKay took their mentees kayaking on an unseasonably warm October Saturday. Here is what Phil had to share:

We took advantage of another beautiful Fall day in Seattle—warning Jacinto and Celson that the weather WILL change and it will be VERY different. Paddling around Lake Union, Equipo Celson and Equipo Jacinto, we watched beautiful boats, a loaded barge, the infamous amphibious Ducks, and the University Bridge going up.  We also managed to scare a few swimming geese and give in to the temptation to splash.  But, best of all, we got a chance to talk and enjoy a pretty day together.  When we got tired of paddling, but not ready to give up on the beautiful day, we found a deck to sit and have some nachos. Jacinto and Celson can look at these pictures in March and remember when it was warm in Seattle.  It is fun to have them here!

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