Christmas in Family!

By Julio Cesar, Class of 2016

There are some important holidays during the year, but Thanksgiving day and Christmas are the most important world wide. In Thanksgiving day, people gather in family and thanks with a delicious special dinner for all they have received during the year, they give thanks for the loved ones and family members.

Christmas is the season of being thankful for Jesus’ birth. Like Thanksgiving day people gather together, eat a special meal, spend time in family and share presents. The most important thing here is being gathered in family and share lot of beautiful moments with them, and being thankful for Jesus child born in our hearts and homes. Also in this holiday is important being in peace and celebrate all the blessings we have, what a better way that in family.

While celebrating Christmas eve here in the United States, the memory of my NPH family came to my mind. The special night mass we celebrate on Christmas eve, the special meal we share all together at the basketball court, the presents we receive in the morning thanks to our benefactors, the fireworks that we watch after dinner, laughs of my brothers. All that good sensations that I have in my NPH home, this year I lived with my host family The Saldañas, and I bet my five NPH Seattle Institute brothers/sisters lived with their families too. It was an amazing Christmas celebration! Thank you to all our families for making a special Christmas celebration for us!

I want to close my post by thanking Bubar family for hosting our Christmas party, thanks to Tapias family for the posada in your house, it was amazing! Thanks to all the beautiful people that have shared time and presents with us the Seattle institute leadership pequenos, Thank you to all friends whom help NPH in any way, Thank you to Kara for supporting us at any time, Thanks to all NPHI staff for all the hard work you make, Thanks to iLEAP staff for helping us growing as social leaders, and a huge THANK YOU to all our host families for being all the time with us, we love you!

Blessings for all in the 2016 year!!!

 

 

An Open Letter to NPH Volunteers from a Grown Pequeño

By Jonathan, Class of 2016 (in his own English!)

Dear Volunteers,

I would like to personally thank all of you for your commitment to NPH.   I truly believe that both the children and the great family of NPH are also grateful for you.

I would also like to express my thanks to Vicky who manages all the volunteers that make NPH feel like a family.  Your ability to recruit people to volunteer in NPH and place them in the appropriate country and house as role models for our children who need to be prepared to live their lives beyond NPH is much appreciated.

Our volunteers have the opportunity to share their talents and knowledge while serving children. Often volunteers are highly trained and skilled individuals whom NPH leverages for our children as nurses, teachers, and therapists working in different areas where the house needs, also including childcare.

Volunteers always bring new ideas and different perspectives in order to help improve our family.  To volunteer with NPH is one of the greatest gifts for our family.  Thank you for the things you do for us.  You spend time with us for protection and love, and sacrifice time away from your family, thank you infinitely, dear volunteers.  I just wish that when it’s my turn to support my neighbors, that it is half of what you were within our family.

No matter how much time passes without a visit, or how far you go, you can be sure that on your return to the family of NPH, I [we] will welcome you with abundant love and hugs.

Congratulations for the great time you shared, the hard work, and thanks because this program would not be possible without your generous support.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Palma, NPH Guatemala

 

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Editor’s Note: In October, Vicky facilitated a workshop called “The NPH Volunteer Experience” with the students, in which they learned about the logistics of the program and spent time thinking about what makes a good volunteer for our family.  It was after that day and re-connecting with many former NPH volunteers here in Seattle that Jonathan decided upon this topic for his blog post.  Former volunteers in the Northwest have made significant contributions to the beginnings of this program as well, and we are so grateful that your love and support continues after you return “home”!

 

 

Year Five Begins in Seattle

It has been just over one month since our fifth group of emerging leaders arrived in Seattle.  It has been a full and solid beginning to our year together.  This post will give some highlights of their first month here and then over the next few months each of the students will contribute a more specific post to our blog, so keep checking back!

  • The students arrived on September 10th and our arrival weekend consisted our getting to know our host families, learning our bus routes, and getting to know each other better. We had dinner at Kara’s and played trilingual Pictionary (fun and appropriate for our global NPH family!).
  • During that first week, the students participated in NPH Seattle orientation: What is the Seattle Institute, what can they expect during their year, what do we expect from them, etc….They also met their “tutor, play, culture” mentors – former volunteers who are helping them make the transition from their country to life in Seattle. The students were introduced to our NPH Chaplain here in Seattle, former NPH volunteer Joe Cotton – who serves as a safe and compassionate spiritual guide for any of them as needed throughout the year.
  • During the second week, we had our first leadership intensive at iLEAP. This year we are partnering with iLEAP to deepen our leadership formation.  The students will have four opportunities throughout the year to learn from the good folks at iLEAP about leadership, social change, and their personal ways of serving and leading.  During this first intensive, the focus was on getting to know iLEAP as an organization as well as getting to know Caitlin, Bao, Izumi and Britt, exploring leadership qualities, leadership language and communication, and discussing the importance of time to reflect in our work and lives.
  • The next week brought orientation for our English classes at Seattle Central College. This meant placement tests, tours of the university, meeting advisers and teachers, and registering for fall quarter.  The students also began to meet classmates and friends from all over the world: Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, Brazil, etc…
  • On September 26th we celebrated our traditional Welcome Mass at the home of Ann and Don Connolly. In his homily, Fr. Natch Ohno, SJ (Seattle University) urged the students “to teach us, just as you have come to learn…tell us your stories too for we have much to learn from you” and then reminded them “you have come here to learn and grow, you will go back to serve”.
  • The following weekend, the students participated in a full-day leadership retreat at Cipsus Learning Center. They engaged in a variety of experiential learning activities in a beautiful outdoor setting. Our awesome facilitators (thank you Karen Skoog and Anna Ricci!) used the challenge course to represent the students’ year in Seattle, inviting them into teamwork, trust-building, communication, reflection, and fun!
  • Last weekend, we had a workshop on the NPH Volunteer Experience with NPH USA Volunteer Coordinator, Vicky Medley. Our conversation led to a recognition of the cultural adjustment our volunteers make, just as the students are now adjusting to life here.  Now that they are living it, it is easier for them to understand the volunteers’ experience!  We also spent time discussing what makes a volunteer a “good fit” for the NPH family.  Afterwards we met up with former NPH volunteers to go bowling!
  • A lot of our leadership focus during this first month has been on group/team-formation and the stages any small group goes through. Last weekend, we had a challenging and fruitful conversation as a group on where we are now and what we need to do to help our group keep growing together.  This is NOT easy work, but they are doing it and doing it with integrity.
  • The students are now in the midst of their third week of classes, and I have to say that I am already noticing big improvements in their English! They are working and studying hard and it shows.

Phew!  We have been busy!  For my part (Kara), I am so grateful for the way these six students have shown up and been ready to work hard.  This program requires a lot of them, and I see each of them working hard to do their best.  I am also grateful for the amazing Northwest NPH community that year after year comes around our students to make their year successful and inspiring.  I write today in hopeful anticipation of the growth and learning I anticipate for Irene, Mirna, Suyapa, Alberto, Jonathan and Julio during their time here in Seattle.

Stay tuned for blog posts from each student in the coming weeks and months…

Sisters: Lucre and Florine’s Journey

Florine and Lucre reflect on their relationship over the past 8 months.  Though both from NPH, they had never met before the plane ride from Miami to Seattle last September.  How do we move from strangers to sisters?  

“Hi! Are you Florine?”, asked Nelson. “Yes, it’s me”, I replied.

Magda was seated by the window, Lucre in the middle, and Nelson…you can imagine where he was sitting?  The four of us shared some cookies, and tried to know each other in the plane from Miami to Seattle.  Nelson was translating for the girls what I was saying in broken English.  Well, you know how communication is important, so we decided to do our first intercultural communication which was quite interesting and friendly.

Landed in Seattle, it took us more than ten minutes to find our suitcases. Thank goodness we were all together!  Were we lost?  Hmmmm…not really, we were just excited to visit and exploring this big airport.  Would you do that for a first time?  Maybe not, but we were just adventurous and curious.  After taking a couple laps at the airport and finding our suitcases, we were surprised to see how many people were waiting for us. Our host families and friends. We loved it, and we were happy.

One time at the beginning of the year, we were at Malia’s place for a get-together with some of the NPH volunteers, and Lucre was taking pictures of the whole group.  I wanted to delete the pictures that she took of me.  I did not know how to tell her in Spanish that I want to only delete mine, and she did not either understand in English what I was telling her. We both got angry because we had a misunderstanding in that conversation. She thought that I wanted the camera, but I did not need it, I just wanted to delete the pictures.  That was our first hard time.

Did we have a second one?  You know, we were all different from each other, so working as a team was kind of challenging.  But, we took time to get to know each other, we learned how to speak “Spanglish” because that helped us most of the time, and we even used sign language to communicate.  As time was passing, things got better.

Lucre and I are maybe not the best friends in the world, but we are really good, true friends and most importantly, sisters.  We now support each other every single day, we share stories, secrets…who does not share secret with a special friend?  Lucre says that I am humble, but I think that she is more humble than me.  She also thinks that I am bossy, and well, she is right and I am working on that.  I love her. And…she says that she loves me too.  Last Saturday, I forgot to take my passport with me to the ELS for my TOEFL test. Lucre took the bus and came all the way to downtown Seattle, and brought me the passport.  I was able to take it because she was there for me, I won’t never forget it.  Thank you mi Lucrecita!  Te  amo mucho!

At the end, we have struggled, we found difficulties, we were mad at each other sometimes, but we finally saw a sister in each other.  Now, we only speak English, but I do speak some Spanish words sometimes just to let her know that I can speak Spanish while she is speaking English.  “Hurry Florine, hurry!”  That is what she says when she comes over to the Fonsecas’s place, and she has to make sure that we do not miss the bus.  “I am almost done Lucre, give me five minutes and we won’t be late because we have class at 1:00”.  I should ask for ten or fifteen minutes instead of five. Why? Because I take more than five minutes to be ready, so I make her run every morning to the bus stop since she is staying with me, and if we miss the bus, we will be in trouble.

The End of Lucre and Florine’s story…just for now…

Through Eyes That Have Cried

 “There are some things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”

“Hay muchas cosas que sólo pueden ser vistas a través de ojos que han llorado.” 

They are words from Monseñor Oscar Romero of El Salvador.  Standing in the church where he was martyred in 1980 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-31115837), these words almost feel like an invitation.  Or perhaps a challenge.

Will you look?

Will you see?

Will you notice the pain and suffering and injustice around you?

Will you turn away?

Or, will you gaze through your tears?  And in the midst of your own pain and brokenness, find ways to engage with love and compassion?

It has become increasingly clear to me through my work with NPH that tears are sacred.  To be honored, rather than quickly wiped away or hidden.  As we have developed this program in Seattle over the past four years, the importance of accompanying our pequeños/as as they look at their life story has become central.  We are blessed with the space, time, and good people that allow this to happen to whatever extent each participant is able – we meet them where they are.

What is becoming clear is that this work, this hard and scary and beautiful work, is helping them make significant changes in their lives.  It can feel slow and painful, and there have been times when I have questioned it, worried about it, wondered if we were inviting harm rather than good.

And so when I read these words, they impacted me deeply – for I have seen the truth in them.  Through my tears, shed over my own brokenness and over the brokenness I witness in our kids, I have seen things I could not see before.  Tears that were held in for many years, when finally released and blessed – have brought deeper relationships and a new capacity to love.

Through their own tears, the pequeños/as have come to recognize a resilience and beauty that is stronger than they knew.  I have seen them realize their own ability to offer healing to each other and to others.  Through art and storytelling, they have seen each other and themselves in new ways, inviting them to personal growth and transformation and ultimately to a life in which they can better serve others because they know who they are and they know how to love well.

My recent trip to NPH El Salvador reminded me that change is possible and hope is with us.  I watched graduates of our Seattle program facilitate sessions for the younger pequeños/as, lead activities, answer questions, and participate in high level educational planning meetings.  They were both engaged and courageous and I felt so proud of them and hopeful for our future as an NPH family.

But perhaps my most precious hour with them was our first afternoon at NPH El Salvador as we sat together in rocking chairs in the shade outside the house.  How beautiful to have time for them to speak honestly and listen to each other about what is happening in their lives in their home countries.  Their integrity and love for each other and for NPH is beautiful.

As our Seattle program continues to grow, we must remember the importance of this deep personal work.  And that stepping into it ultimately empowers our kids to use their lives for the good of the world.

What change will they make?  Whose life might they save?  Where will they bring hope where before there was none?  We don’t yet know.  What I do know is that their willingness to look at the world through eyes that have cried makes them more compassionate, more authentic, and more humble leaders for a world that in desperate need of them.

-Kara King, Program Director

Climate, Food, and English: Lucre Reflects on her first months in Seattle

By Lucrecia, NPH Nicragua

Translation by Kara (this time only!!)

 

Antes de llegar a Seattle, Seattle era una ciudad desconocida para mi. Tuve la oportunidad de investigar en internet!!! Pero no lo hice. Cual fue la razón?. Simple, no quería las referencias de nadie, sabía que viviría por 10 meses en Seattle y supuse que tendria tiempo suficiente para observer y aprender y tener mi propio concepto. Pues bien, estas son algunas de las observaciones a las que he llegado en mis dos meses de estancia en Seattle.

Before coming to Seattle, I didn’t know anything about it.  I had the opportunity to look it up on the internet, but I didn’t.  Why not?  Simple – I didn’t want others opinions.  I know I would live for 10 months in Seattle and I imagined that I would have lots of time to observe and learn for myself.  Here are some of the things I have observed since I got here.

Seattle es una ciudad de Washinton muy hermosa, tiene enormes edificios , muchas playas, muchos lugares para visitar. Los habitantes de Seattles son personas de todas partes( unos nacidos aqui, otros de otros estados del pais o de otros paises).Las personas suelen parecer muy serios, pero una ves que entablas una conversación con ellos la mayoría suele ser amables y serviciales.

Seattle is a city in Washington State.  It is very beautiful, with huge buildings, many beaches, and many places to visit.  The people who live in Seattle are from all over (some born her, other born in other states, and others in other countries).  The people appear to be very serious, but once you start a conversation with them most of them are kind and hospitable.

Mis puntos debiles en seattle son: el CLIMA, la COMIDA y el IDIOMA. Es lo que lo distinguen de mi pais.!!!

For me, the bad parts about Seattle are: the climate, the food, and the language.  This is what is different from my country!!!

El clima es muy fresco y muchos meses de lluvia ( demaciado fresco para mi gusto,siempre tengo frio) pero a la gente de aqui es lo que mas le facina de Seattle.

The climate is very cold and there are many months of rain (and it is cold rain, I am always cold).  But the people here seem to be fascinated by it.

En cuanto a la comida, es un cambio de 360 grados, no hay gallopinto, ni nacatamales, ni nada de lo que comemos en Nicaragua. Todo es Nuevo y muchas variedades de comidas.Pero es una ventaja porque puedo probar la comida de Seattle y seleccionar la que me gusta.

In regards to the food, it is a 360 degree change.  No gallopinto!  No nacatamales, nor anything else that we eat in Nicaragua.  Everything is new and there are many varieties of food.  But that is an advantage because I can try the food and choose what I like.

Y en cuanto al idima, quiciera hablar con mucha gente pero no puedo comunicarme en ingles con ellas. Asi que seguiré aprendiendo, de cultura, costumbres y sobre todo idioma. My host family (Bill y Katy) me dicen “poco a poco”, y si cada dia aprendo un poco mas.

And in regards to the language, I would like to speak with many people but I can’t communicate in English with them.  So, I will keep learning: about culture, customs, and mostly language.  My host family (Bill and Kathy) tell me “little by little”, and it is true – each day I learn a little more. 

En fin, aunque ha sido un poco difícil adaptarse al idioma,a las costumbres y al clima de Seattle que por sierto, nadie dijo que iba hacer fácil. Me gusta Seattle.

Finally, although it is have been a Little hard to adapt to the language, culture, and climate of Seattle (and certainly no one told me it would be easy), I do like Seattle!

 

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Intercambio Cultural – Cultural Exchange in Seattle

By: Samuel, NPH Mexico

Láizì Seattle de wènhòu, Saludos desde Seattle.  Una palabra dificil de pronunciar para mi, pero es una de las cosas que he aprendido desde que estoy en seattle, ya que todo el tiempo convivo con diferentes personas y diferentes culturas, desde el idioma hasta la comida, pero todos tenermos algo en comun, y es que estamos aprendiendo a hablar ingles.

Desde mi estadia aqui en seattle, no solo he aprendido a hablar mas ingles, sino que al mismo tiempo tienes la oportunidad de prender otros idiomas con tus amigos y companeros de clase, desde el Chino, hasta el frances, desde el Vietnamese hasta el arabe; oviamente solo a decir frases pequenas. Ellos tambien se prestan a aprender espanol con migo, desde palabras como, hola, adios; aunque ellos las primera frase que quieren aprender es “donde esta el bano?”

La comida tambien forma parte de Nuestros intercambios culturales. Nunca en mi vida habia probado un platillo tailandes, o el Falafel mediterraneo. Al mismo tiempo muchos de mis comapaneros ahora conocen mas la cocina Mexicana  gracias a mis recomencaciones. Tambien platicamos de nuestras formas de vestir, nuestra forma de gobienrno, nuestras celebraciones, hasta nuestras formas de saludar.

Gracias a esta oportunidad, ahora tengo amigos de muchas partes del mundo; desde asia hasta America del sur, y tambien he aprendido a convivir con otras culturas, y sobre todo empatizar  con ellas y respetarlas.

 

Translation…(also by Samuel!):

Láizì Seattle de wènhòu. Hello from Seattle. This is a Chinese word that is hard for me to pronounce, But also is one of the things that I have learned since I am in Seattle, and is because I can find a lot of people whit different cultures. From people who speak different languages, until the food, but we have also something in common that is Learn English.

Since when I have been here in Seattle, I not only learned English, at the same time, I have the opportunity to learns another languages whit my friends and classmates in the school; since Chinese until French, Since Vietnamese until Arabic, but obviously I learn some little words. They like to learn some words in Spanish with me too. Like Hello, or Good Bye; though the first phrase that they like to learn is “Were Is the Bathroom?

Food is part of our cultural exchanges, In my life, I had never tried a Thai dish, or the Mediterranean Falafel, But also some of my friends and classmates had never tried the Mexican food, Now they know more about Mexican traditional dishes thanks to me. Also we talk about our dress, our form of government in each of our countries, Our different celebrations, until our different ways to say hello.

Thanks to this opportunity to be here, I have a lot of friend from different countries; from Asia to South America, and at the same time, I had learned to share, empathize and respect them

 

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