Transitions

On June 25th, I walked across the stage to receive my Master’s Degree from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.  In the audience (and others there in spirit) was my family. They had come from Seattle and Spokane, as well as from Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua to bear witness to this moment with me.

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The Seattle School Graduation.

On June 26th, I listened at an NPHI Board Meeting to Donna Egge and Miguel Venegas as they reminded me of how far we had come together over the past 6 years of shaping and then beginning The Seattle Institute.

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Miguel and Kara during the NPHI Board Meeting.

I mention both of these days not only because they were two significant endings so close together, but also because The Seattle School and NPH have been interwoven in my life for the past four years.  As I have grown as a therapist, the leadership program has grown and developed.  As I have learned who I am uniquely created to be in the world, I have been better able to accompany our young people in that same journey.  As I stepped into a school with its own recent history of transitions, failure, and redemption – I was newly able to imagine that for NPH as well.

I will be forever grateful to NPHI for taking the risk they took in launching this program.  And, I will be forever grateful to The Seattle School for the transformation that began in my heart within that brick building.

A week later, on July 3rd, we celebrated our fifth graduating class of The Seattle Institute.  In the audience were alumni from four years of the Seattle program, along with our Seattle Community which has so lovingly embraced this program from day one.  The graduating students spoke wisely and courageously as they shared with us what they had learned during their time in Seattle.  If you missed it, you can listen to their speeches here: 2016 Student Speeches

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Alberto sharing his thoughts on leadership.

We shared a bit about how the program came to be and where we are now, including introducing our partners from iLEAP and the NPH staff members who were in Seattle for a month-long leadership training.  We were also excited to share an update on our alumni and the good and inspiring work they are doing in the communities.  You can read those here: Where are they now?

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Jean Francois (Charter Class) reflects on the first year of The Seattle Institute.

Finally, the graduates and alumni offered a gift I will always treasure – their words and memories about their time in the program.  Jean Francois Seide (charter class) was there to remind us of some of the realities of that first year, for we certainly had a steep learning curve!  I am glad we can now laugh about how lost we often felt (or literally were) in that first year – and I am grateful for all the learning that has come from it.

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Charter Class with NPHI Leadership in 2011.

Those first students: JF, Emir, Wendy, Julissa, Digyana were the pioneers of this program and their legacy is strong.  I am thankful for them and their willingness to “go with the flow” as we learned together during that first year.  We are also grateful to the supporters and host families who joined us as we got our feet under us along the way.  The vision of this program takes time to fulfill, and the results may not always be quickly seen.  But, that first class is clear evidence something beautiful is at work here: JF is headed to Oxford to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Emir is in his 5th year of Medical School in Monterrey, Wendy is finishing her degree in Linguistics and runs the Girl’s Home at NPH Honduras during weekend and vacations, Julissa is a fabulous mother and works at a bilingual call center in Guatemala City as well as being involved in the Hermanos Mayores Group for NPH Guatemala, and Digyana lives in Tegucigalpa with her husband Denis and is the lead Montessori teacher at NPH Honduras.  It is stunning to me to see the good work they are each doing.  I could go on about our other alumni as well, but instead, I will invite you again to read more about each of them here: Where are they now?

As the other alumni and students blessed me with their words, they also offered tangible gifts that I will take with me into my work as a therapist.  It is a lovely way to carry them with me as I make this transition.  Thank you to each and every one of you!

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Seattle Institute Students from Classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

Finally, a shout out to Donna Egge.  Donna has believed in, and dreamt of, this program long before it even crossed my imagination.  She has been a mentor to me throughout the process of getting it up and running.  Donna, thank you for your passion, your wisdom, your courage, and your friendship.  You have taken my late night calls when things were falling apart (and helped me see they really weren’t), you have challenged (and oh, so gently guided) me when I was veering off-course, you have supported me when it felt overwhelming, you have celebrated with me when the beauty of the students made my heart sing, you have done all of this and so much more.  Deep, sincere gratitude to you and all you have been to me during this process.

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Donna with students from the Class of 2015.

Tomorrow, we begin the real work of transitioning to our next Program Director, Jacqueline Shrader.  You will hear more from Jacqueline in the coming weeks and months, for now please join me in welcoming her into our NPH Seattle family.  Jacqueline can be reached at: jacqueline.shrader@nph.org.

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The NPH Seattle Community met Jacqueline at Graduation o July 3rd!

It has been my honor and deep privilege to be on this journey with you.  I can continue to be reached for NPH-related topics through August at kara.king@nph.org.  Otherwise, you can find me at: kara@karakingcounseling.com.

Peace and All Good Things (Paz y Bien),

Kara King

 

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!!!

 

 

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…

How a Year in Seattle Transformed my Life

By: Jacinto Arias, Class of 2013 (NPH Guatemala)

Jacinto graduated from The Seattle Institute in 2013 and is now serving as the Year of Service and University Student Coordinator, while he continues his University Studies in Guatemala.  Here he reflects on his time in Seattle and how it impacted his life.  

It´s been almost 2 years since I came back from Seattle. When I look back I realize that I am not the same person that I was before. I experienced ten months filled with hard work, joy, games, homework (grammar), and meeting so many people. I met really good people. I don’t remember some of their names, but I have their faces in my mind.

In the beginning, it was really hard because I was really far from my friends and my family, and of course the language made my first weeks harder.  During my stay in Seattle, I could find unconditional love from my host family (the Callans) and in their house I felt for the first time in my whole life, a real family. But now you will say: Why are you saying that? You are in NPH and NPH is a family and its true, but there I experienced having a mom and dad, where they took care of me very seriously. I remember this phrase from Cathy Callans: I take my role very seriously. She told me when she saw that I was doing something wrong or something good, as well.  They treated me as a son and their kids treated me as a brother. Their kids (Jonathan, Matthew and Molly) always had time for me and they argued with each other in order to know who had the best Spanish.

I was used to having so many people around me and when I went to Seattle it was really different. I lived in a big house for 5 people and for me it was really difficult to get used to it. Sometimes I got frustrated because I was alone at the house and I had just one channel in Spanish, but because of that experience I got to learn more about myself. I realized that at NPH I did not have enough time for myself, and in Seattle I had that time and I could know more about myself: goals, objectives, fears, etc.

No matter where I went, I found good people; people who were and still are interested in NPH. Something that really impressed me was that even though they didn´t know NPH, they believed in us, they believed that we would be successful and we would change the world. I admire NPH USA a lot because they work so hard every day in order to help us and get more people involved.

Kara King, the coordinator of the program, always trusted in us. She is an amazing person and always listened to us and gave us advice.  She is totally convinced that this program is worth it, which motivates me to keep working and helping others. I know that I cannot do everything, but I can do something and that something I will do well.

People from the States and all the people that help us, thank you so much for your support. I have no words to thank you nor a way to pay you, but I am truly convinced that one day YOU will have your compensation.

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“I would do it again in a heartbeat” ~ A Reflection on Hosting an NPH Student

By Cheryl Goodwin

When we agreed to be a host family for one of the Leadership students this year, I knew that I would be glad I had done it. My family has been involved with NPH since 2007, when my oldest daughter worked at the regional office. She invited us to a Faces of Hope event that introduced us to NPH, its founder and the children who are part of a large, loving family.  Shortly after that we sponsored our first godchild from Guatemala, and then a second one.

I have been a Table Captain at numerous events, volunteered in the office, and am currently serving on the Regional Board.  This past summer, I visited the home in Guatemala and was able to meet my godchildren and see first-hand that everything that I had heard about NPH was true. I remember clearly driving through the entrance of the grounds and being brought to tears by the beauty of it all, especially in contrast to the poverty we had passed through on the trip from the airport.

During this trip I was able to visit with several of the young men and women who had been through the Leadership program in the past few years.  It was good to see them living out what the program was aiming for – providing leadership and support to their sisters and brothers at NPH. I was also introduced to Luisa, who was planning to come as one of this year’s students.

Paul and I have always opened our home to others.  Our children’s friends were (are) always welcome, extended family members have lived with us for several months, holiday gatherings are frequently at our house, and we have had weekly meals with a  large group of friends for nearly twenty years.  However, in recent years, I kept feeling the call to show “hospitality to strangers.”  We had been asked to consider hosting a student the prior year, but for several reasons had decided it wasn’t the right time.  The idea had stayed in my mind, however, and my visit to the home in Guatemala made everything so much more real than it had been before.  So, when Kara King asked us to consider it again this year we said yes.

To be honest, even after saying yes, I was nervous and uncertain about whether or not it was a good idea. Our student, Magda, is from Honduras and she spoke very little English.  Since neither my husband, my mother, nor I speak Spanish, I was worried about how we were going to communicate.  The first couple weeks were a bit of a challenge, communication-wise.  The translation programs on our cell phones were a life-saver, allowing us to at least get the basics of what we were trying to say across. However, we were able to laugh as we fumbled our way through unfamiliar words and as Magda’s English skills increased and we learned a little Spanish, communication became easier.  We now have long, detailed conversations with only the occasional look-up of a particularly difficult word.

I had also worried that we wouldn’t be exciting enough for her – we don’t have kids at home, we aren’t soccer players, and are pretty busy with work commitments.  But we can, and did, provide an opportunity for her to be part of our family, with all of our quirks and goodness. Our friends and church family have loved getting the chance to get to know her.  I was rather surprised at how quickly Magda began to feel like another daughter to us.

As I mentioned earlier, I knew that I would be glad that we had agreed to be a host family and that it was the right thing to do.  What I hadn’t counted on, however, was the joy I would experience in the midst of it.  I love introducing her to our family’s traditions, taking her to our favorite restaurants, participating in holiday activities, spending the evening watching a movie at home, and even helping her with her homework.  I am humbled by the fact that she has been willing to share her life story with us and that she trusts us to love and care for her.  I am blessed by her generosity and kindness towards her brothers and sisters at the ranch. I am impressed with her hard work to learn a new language and a new culture. I know she will take a piece of my heart with her when she returns to Honduras at the end of June, but am comforted by the knowledge that I now have another reason to visit the NPH ranch there.

An added benefit of being a host family is the opportunity to get to know the other five students and their host families. Each of them, Luisa, Samy, Lucre, Florine, and Nelson, are wonderful individuals who challenge and bless me.  As I near the end of this year, I am saddened by the fact that I will miss them all and so very encouraged by the good work that I know they will all do in the future.

I am grateful that I have been able to play a small part in their lives. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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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Our Host Families

By Florine St. Eloi, NPFS Haiti

 

I am Florine St Eloi, a leadership student from Haiti. I always had a dream to come to the United States. We were 6 students in NPH Haiti to apply for coming to Seattle in the Leadership program, and studying English at Seattle Central College. After Kara’s “exam” and “interview”, yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I was qualified for 10 months in Seattle. Moreover, my dream came true.

 

This September 11, Lucre, Nelson, Magda, Luisa, Sam and I, we were welcomed by 15 persons, our host families and friends. How blessed we are! Each of us has a family. Lucre has the Collins’, Nelson with the Paulsens, Magda lives at the Goodwins’ place, Luisa stays with the Fittons, Sam is with Jan Siers and John Ittes, and I stay with my famous JoNa, the Fonsecas. It’s wonderful! I am writing about our “Host families” on the “birthday” of one of mine, John Fonseca. Isn’t that interesting…

Happy Birthday John Fonseca!!!

 

Honestly, I prefer “parents” than “host families”. They take care of us, they help us with homework, drive us to church, cook meals and make us laugh. We are so grateful for all of that. They always try to do the best for us. John and Mona always say, “Flo, feel free”. They are wonderful, I really love them.

 

We all love our host families, our parents. We can’t thank you enough for all your kindness and support. You treat us like a member of your family, we are so happy to stay with you and your family. We are very grateful to our host families for opening their home to us to experience the American culture, values and lifestyles.

 

We have many challenges: to become a Leader, to learn English, to be more independent, more confident, while focusing on our plans for the future. Future tense is so funny! That’s my favorite verb tense. Smiling…John always says, “Grammar is like Mathematics. If you know the rules, you’ll always get it right”!

 

I have heard: “If you have a good present, you will have a good future. We have to work hard in our present to have a good future. Our host families, our Mentors and Kara contribute now towards our good future. Thank you so much to all of you! Kara chose well for all of us in pairing the students and host families. However, if she were to choose differently, for example, if I were with the Paulsens, or Magda with the Fonsecas, we would still be happy because our host families want the best for us.

 

In the end, you, host families give to us, the students such an unforgettable experience that would become an invaluable treasure in our life. If you look in our eyes, you would see a light. If you see the light, you would understand our smiles. If you understood our smiles, you would touch our hearts and would know how very much we love and thank you every moment, and every day.

 

 

 

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