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

 

Hermanos Mayores in Seattle

A few months ago, we participated in a day-long workshop with the Hermanos Mayores who were here as a part of the iLEAP Global Leadership Program for NPH.  Here Irene reflects on our day together (written in her own English!).

 

By Irene Cruz, Class of 2016

I remember the day when we arrived to iLEAP.  We just were looking for our brothers and sisters from the same country.  We were very happy to see all of them. One by one they were coming, and we began to sit next to each other.

While the meeting started we were talking with them.  The most funny part was that when the meeting began, and we did one dinamica where we needed to talk, but only in English.  So I remember that when they began to try and talk Mirna was looking me, and she coming to me and told me: do you remember when we arrived we were like them?  I just was laughing because it is true.  When we came here and the people told us that we needed to talk in English we did not know how because we were very shy, but the truth is that we really did not know anything, just HELLO AND BYE.  So I saw that we learned a lot these months.

I think that iLEAP really is a very good program. Now I think this because the first months for me was very hard, even boring just because I did not understand nothing in English. iLEAP has a lot of interesting information, and the people that work in iLEAP are prepared to teach us subjects, but not just about leadership also they teach us about the life.

They prepared very well and know how to teach the information to help us when we return our countries. Spending the time with our brothers and sisters all day was very nice. I really appreciate the time because I had the opportunity to know them. The best part was when we take the lunch. Everybody bring food to the table and everyone could take it. Everybody were siting and talking about our families, friends and school. We were joking a lot.

It is interesting when you can see that your house has more leaders, and that many people want the best changes for NPH. That each one has different ideas, but the same purpose DO THE BEST FOR THE CHILDREN.

Our FATHER always wanted that, so we need to work together and try to give the best of ourself.

We are the future of our NPH family, so we join our hands, hearts, and ideas together and we don’t let go until we achieve what Father Wasson wanted: A better life for our little brothers and sisters.

 

iLEAP Days: December 2015

By Mirna, Class of 2016

In her own English (with some help from her NPH brother, Julio).

First of all, I want to thanks all the iLEAP crew, Britt, Izumi, Caitlin and Bao (Bao, we missed you this time!) for all these learning days.  The most important for me is learning of others and reflect about my life, in that way being a better person by serving NPH family and the society.

In iLEAP I have learned about the importance of listening with the mind, the heart, to others and connect with them by listening with the soul.

I also learned to find my leadership style by evaluating my self and evaluating my friends. Doing this evaluation I was surprising for my results, according to them I am an ‘’AUTHENTIC LEADER’’.

I am really surprising for all I have learned, I am surprised of how much my thoughts has grown, and I am surprising how I learned to find myself, because I know all this will help me to be a strong and fighting woman and reach my goals in my life.

During our last sessions we became more active learners when we went to the field. We went to FareStart restaurant. Being there we made a tour and met about the history of the restaurant, about their social work. The idea born with David Lee a person who was interested in help people, and that is what the restaurant does. In this restaurant people who do not have a home, or are living in poverty, became a professional in culinary arts. They go through three phases and at the end they graduate. After the graduation, the non-profit org help them to find job. What I learned of this is that there is amazing people helping others, and that inspires me to be a better person.

I want to finish my article with the next quote: ‘’It is always easy to blame others. You can spend your entire life blaming the world, but your success or failures are entirely your own’’ – Paulo Cohelo.

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iLEAP/NPHI Global Leadership Intensives

by: Julio, Class of 2016 (in his own English!)

iLEAP is a non-profit organization that helps social leaders and global citizens to improve their skills and inspire them to continue their amazing labor of change in their communities. iLEAP is an international leadership training. It has participants from 20 countries around the world.

iLEAP now is working with NPH, so is having a huge impact in the life of the pequenos. The actual group of Seattle Leadership Institute is attending one iLEAP ‘s program, the group is formed by: Irene (Mexico), Suyapa (Honduras), Mirna (Nicaragua), Alberto (Haiti), Jonathan (Guatemala), and my person, Julio (El Salvador). There are six countries that could have six potential social leaders, so that’s the impact that iLEAP has in people around the world.  The program consists in develop important topics like: leadership foundation, social business, small group challenge, and so on. They have a schedule of each session. Our group has only attended the first session and we have already learned so much. It is an interesting and invaluable training; I hope this program last so long.

Their vision transcend barriers, I mean can be a bad situation people is facing, but this organization don’t have excuses for don’t do anything, instead they’re inspiring social leaders, in order to improve their performance in their own communities.

That’s it what I want to highlight, NPH has to face adversities all the time. Like government and social issues. We the pequenos need to be prepared for face these situations. What a better org to achieve that goal that iLEAP as NPH partner!

After living this program, is expected that people return to home and make more changes in their communities. I think iLEAP and NPH shares the same goal, which is helps social leaders to grew as humans. They are inspiring the people who will change and transform the world.  I invite anyone who would like to join this amazing program and meet them. I am sure you will not disappointed about learn with them! Thanks iLEAP stuff for open us the knowledge gate, Thanks to Britt (founder), Izumi (associate director), Caitlin (Global programs coordinator), Kei (Japan programs coordinator), Bao (office coordinator) and trustees, thanks all for make iLEAP possible.

Julio Cesar

NPH Seattle Leadership Institute 2015-2016

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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…

A New Partnership with iLEAP

– By Nelson, NPH Honduras

The Leadership Program students had the opportunity to spend five days in a special iLEAP program.

What does iLEAP mean?  iLEAP is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and renew social leaders and global citizens through integrated leadership programs that ignite hope and transformation in the world.

This is the first time the NPH Leadership Institute has partnered with iLEAP, so I would like to share a little about this wonderful experience that the leadership students had at iLEAP.

We started on Friday, March, 27th.  We arrived at 9:30 am after a tiring week where we had fundraising activities with NPH USA.  Even though we were tired, we had the attitude to start working for the next five days in different topics, and take advantage of this iLEAP program.

First of all, we worked in many interesting topics that really caused us to think about what it means to be a good leader in our respective societies. One thing that really caused us to think about leadership was when we visited two places: Theo Chocolate and Farestart. Both of them are social businesses that are working with people to improve their lives and find the best version of themselves.

The following are our personal reflections about our week at iLEAP:

Nelson Alvarez: For me this program was helpful in many ways. By working in many topics I learned that leadership is not position, it is because whatever you are working you are demonstrating leadership, it does not matter if you work, for example, as a teacher or as a policeman you are demonstrating leadership as well. It helped me to clarify my own vision for the next years.

Lucrecia Guadamuz: I think iLEAP is a good program because it is focused on understanding yourself first and then you can lead others. The leadership concept that they teach is based in a practical and real way.

Florine St. Eloi: I think it is a really good organization which helps people developing their leadership, and to make it in practice with others and for others not just for ourselves.

Luisa Riquiac: In my own opinion iLEAP inspires you how to work in a reasonable leadership style and to make good decisions for a group not only for yourself.

Samuel Chavez: iLEAP changed my ideas about leadership and it re-opened my eyes after having a bad situation and wondering about my abilities as a leader.  Now I feel more confident about myself and I am sure that I can be a leader in different ways.

Magda Altamirano: iLEAP is an interesting program where you discovered abilities and characteristics that we have as leaders, it helps us to learn how we can improve other qualities and help others.

And a reflection from Kara too…

Kara King: For me, it is exciting to embark on this new partnership with the wonderful folks at iLEAP.  Since the first year of our program here in Seattle, Britt has been a guide for me in developing the program.  It is good to be working together, for I have seen their good work over the past four years and feel so grateful to have our emerging NPH leaders experience the iLEAP way as well.  I think we are all looking forward to dreaming together and seeing how we can make our partnership even stronger next year.

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As you can see this program was helpful for all of us, the leadership program students, in different ways and I am sure that we will share all this knowledge with our brothers and sisters of NPH.

Thanks to our NPH family and our new iLEAP family for making this possible!