Thoughts on Learning and Leadership

Congratulations to our Seattle Institute Team of 2019-2020!

Fany, Liamar, Moy, Rafa and Ricky are now officially young graduates of the Seattle Institute program. They each completed a courageous, 10-month journey full of self-discovery, eye-opening moments, learning and growth. I am personally motivated and inspired by each of them, and excited to cheer them on as they return to their countries and put into practice all that they learned here in Seattle. Below are a few of their own thoughts on their personal leadership and takeaways during their time in Seattle.



Liamar IMG_2017

During my time in Seattle, I have had wonderful experiences, and I have learned a lot about leadership, about myself, and about serving others. I think that everyone is a leader in their own lives. Here, I realized that I am a democratic, strategic, servant, and empowering leader because I am attentive to the needs of others, I try to find creative ways of solving a problem, I prefer to act instead of talk, and I share my knowledge with others and apply it to my life. I also learned more about my strengths, how can apply them to my life as a leader, and that I should focus on my strengths and not on my weaknesses.




I learned that when you help others to be better people, you feel a sense of peace. When I return to the D.R., I will give educational talks about leadership to children in the NPH home, because my greatest wish is that all the children of NPH Dominican Republic learn and know more about how they can be the best versions of themselves. This is important for me, because at a very young age I became involved in leadership activities, and that changed my life in an incredible way. I want to share my knowledge with the children and young people of NPH DR.


Fany IMG_2025

Over this past year, I learned about leadership and about myself, and how to be an NPH ambassador. I learned more about my strengths. I’m creative, empathetic, caring, strong, and entrepreneurial. When I return to my country, I will use these strengths and my new knowledge to support in an area where NPH Honduras needs me, because serving others is important to me. I will continue in university and preparing to be a professional, so that I can give back to NPH.


Moy IMG_1182

I learned that being a good leader means listening well and practicing empathy. It can mean following as well, and include failure – but failing is a part of learning and growing. I learned that the foundation of my leadership is knowing myself, understanding my emotions and feelings. I worked hard on that this past year.

I had many dreams as a child in NPH, now I can say one of those became a reality. The NPH Seattle Institute, Seattle Central College, donors, MAPFRE, my homestay, friends, and all the NPH staff has been a part of this. We are finishing the program and we are leaving in a few days to continue our dreams and be part of the change in our societies and in the NPH family.  


Rafa img_1179.jpg

Over the past 10 months, I have learned that I am a humble and servant leader. Some of my areas of strength are being a visionary, entrepreneurial, perseverant, responsible and resilient. I believe that our strengths should be used to serve others, and that is exactly how I intend to use mine. I want to leave my mark by serving others in need. To me, leadership means using strength to benefit others and help others achieve their goals and work together toward a common purpose. I think a good leader is a person who is always available to help his neighbor in the most difficult of situations.



My Experience in Canada!

Written by Rafa Llamoga Raico, translated by Erin Egge. Original Spanish below.

From the first moment that I arrived to the USA, many extraordinary things have happened. In the Miami airport, I saw a past volunteer that just so happened to be traveling to Seattle on the same plane as me. It was like God’s plan to make this new experience a marvelous adventure.

A few weeks after I had been in Seattle, Traci contacted me, a friend from Canada who travels to Peru each year. She belongs to Georgian Shores United Church, a church in Ontario, Canada, that sponsors me. She wanted to see if I could visit Ontario to get to know the other parishioners and share my story.

20181206_160426 (1).jpgThe trip to Canada was tiring and cold, but it is one of the most extraordinary experiences that I have ever had. Traci had an action-packed agenda that week so that I could experience many things for the first time: see snow, build my first snowman, we went to a Spanish class, a farm (everything was automatic), I finally went ICE SKATING (the skill of hockey players surprises me, because it is difficult even to just walk on ice!). Words can’t express the joy of doing things for the first time.

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One day we got together with a group of Canadians that had traveled to Peru each year, and something that they said has remained in my mind since then: “We are very happy because we had the luck of watching the growth and development of the home from zero, and had the opportunity to be part of this great work. Every year that we visited, there was something new, and it made us happy seeing that the kids were living in a wonderful home.” This is actually the first memory that I have of my friends from Canada, when they helped us build the second NPH Peru home!

20181209_110643 (1)That Sunday at mass I shared my story with the parish, and it was wonderful because I also had the opportunity to thank everyone for all that they have done for us, and tell them that NPH has given us the opportunity to change our stories. The NPH family teaches us that no matter our past, we are important to society. NPH gives me the opportunity to be what I had never imagined I could be. The best gift from NPH is the opportunity to be children: to feel wanted and loved, sure of ourselves and to be able to enjoy childhood.

NPH gives us the tools that we need to overcome challenges and adversities in our lives, and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the results of what you have fought for.

I want to thank all of the people who are involved with NPH, a marvelous community of people that dedicate themselves to bringing opportunities to children in need, helping them to become happy and productive citizens.

Thank you for all of the support and love that you show us!

Thank you for being lights of hope!

Thank you Traci and family, and Georgian Shores United Church, for the opportunity to spend time in your country and your home!

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Original Spanish below by Rafa Llamoga Raico.

¡Mi experiencia en Canadá!

Desde el primer momento en que llegue a USA, han ocurrido cosas extraordinarias, en el aeropuerto de Miami me encontré con un ex voluntario que viajaba a Seattle y en el mismo avión que yo, fue con un designio de Dios para hacer esta nueva experiencia en una aventura maravillosa.

Unas semas que estuve en Seattle me contacto Traci, ella a viaja a Perú con el grupo de canadienses cada año, ella pertenece a una iglesia en Canadá, Georgian Shores United Church, y ellos son mis padrinos. El viaje a Canadá fue cansado y con mucho frio, pero es una de las experiencias más extraordinaria que he realizado, Traci tenía la agenda muy ocupada en la semana en la que yo estaría en Canadá, pude conocer muchas cosas por primera vez: ver Nieve y tener la oportunidad de hacer mi primer muñeco de nieve, fuimos a una tienda donde había muchos animales disecados, fuimos a una clase de español, también fuimos a una granja (allí todo es automático), pude ir al ICE SKATING, me sorprende la destreza de los jugadores de hockey, porque tan solo poder caminar es muy difícil.

Un día nos reunimos con un grupo de canadienses que han viajado a Perú cada año, Se me quedo algo grabado en mi mente cuando ellos mencionaron: “estamos muy felices porque tuvimos la suerte de ver el crecientito y desarrollo de la casa desde cero y tener la oportunidad de ser parte de esta gran obra, cada año que viajábamos había algo nuevo, eso nos ponía muy felices ya que veíamos a los niños están en un mejor lugar para vivir”.

El domingo en la misa fue cuando tuve la oportunidad de contar mi historia, fue algo maravilloso ya que tenía la oportunidad de agradecerles a todas las personas por todas las cosa que han realizado por nosotros y que NPH nos da la oportunidad de cambiar nuestra historia. Es la familia de NPH la que nos enseña que, independientemente de nuestro pasado, nosotros somos importante para la sociedad. NPH me da la oportunidad de ser más de lo que nunca habíamos imaginado. El mejor regalo de NPH es darnos la oportunidad de ser niños: sentirse querido y amado, seguro de sí mismo y poder disfrutar de la infancia. NPH nos da las herramientas que necesitamos para superar los desafíos y las adversidades de nuestras vidas. No hay nada más satisfactorio ver los resultados por aquello que has luchado.

Agradezco a todas las personas que están involucradas con NPH, una comunidad maravillosa de personas que se dedican a brindar oportunidades a los niños necesitados, ayudarlos a convertirse en ciudadanos felices y productivos.

¡Gracias por todo el apoyo y el amor que nos muestran!

¡Gracias por esa luz de esperanza¡

¡Gracias a Traci y familia, y Georgian Shores United Church, por la oportunidad de estar en su país y en su casa!



Happy New Year!


Liamar is from NPH Nicaragua and has been a participant of the NPHI Seattle Institute Leadership program since September 2018. She shares her reflection on the past year with us! Her reflection was translated to English and her original Spanish is below.

“I am infinitely grateful to God for 2018, a year that has been full of blessings and incredible experiences.

I am very happy that I have learned so much this past year. Every goal that I have achieved has been a life experience, and the goals that I haven’t yet fully accomplished help me put more effort and desire to achieve them in the year ahead.


In the Seattle Institute program I have learned a lot about myself, and how to put my abilities as a leader into practice. It has made a major impact on me. Every one of the people who support our NPH Family has taught me more about serving others, especially our Homestays, who support us unconditionally and make us feel like part of their families.

I am excited to begin the new year that will be full of challenges, new experiences and learnings.

I bid farewell to 2018 with immense satisfaction in my heart, for all of the blessings and experiences, and welcome 2019 with enthusiasm, faith and courage.

Happy New Year!



In Liamar’s original Spanish. 

Doy infinitamente gracias a Dios por el año (2018) que estuvo lleno de bendiciones y grandiosas experiencias.

Me siento muy feliz por haber aprendido tanto en este año que culminó. Cada reto logrado ha sido una experiencia de vida, y los objetivos que no pude cumplir me ayudan para poner más esfuerzo y ganas para lograrlo en este año que comienza.

En el programa Seattle Institute he aprendido mucho sobre mí y cómo poner en práctica mis habilidades como líder. Me ha impactado mucho y he aprendido sobre el servicio a los demás a través de cada una de las personas que apoya a nuestra familia de NPH. En especial nuestros Homestays, quienes nos apoyan incondicionalmente y nos hacen sentir parte de sus familias.

Estoy ansiosa por comenzar un nuevo año lleno de retos, nuevas experiencias y conocimientos.

Me despido del 2018 con una inmensa satisfacción en mi corazón por tantas bendiciones recibidas y experiencias vividas, y recibido al 2019 con entusiasmo, fe y coraje.

¡¡Feliz Año Nuevo!!




Written by Ricardo, from NPH Dominican Republic 


I am very grateful to NPH for giving me the opportunity to be part of this leadership program in Seattle. I have met many people who are supporting me every day with my emotional and spiritual development. Over the past two months, I have greatly improved my English skills, and I am thankful for all of the people who have been at my side making this possible.

At the beginning, nothing is easy. But since I arrived to the U.S., there have been marvelous people who have accompanied me and helped make things easier. Everything good takes time and dedication. If I give it my all at the beginning, the future will bear fruit!

There are thousands of ways to fit in when you are new, and one that works for me quite well is smiling. When I smile everything seems clearer! and things seem to go much better.

Life is also better with good friends that stick by you for life. When you have long-lasting friendships, you could go years not seeing them, and when you do see them you pick up right where you left off, as if nothing ever changed. I am grateful for that as well!

En español 

Estoy muy agradecido con NPH por haberme concedido la oportunidad de ser parte de este programa de liderazgo en Seattle. He conocido muchas personas que me están ayudando cada día con mi desempeño emocional y espiritual. A lo largo de estos dos meses he mejorado bastante en mi aprendizaje de inglés, y agradezco mucho a todos aquellos que de una otro manera me ha ayudado.

Al principio nada es fácil, pero hay tantas personas maravillosas que me han acompañado para que sea mas fácil. Como todo lo bueno toma tiempo y dedicación para que de frutos en el futuro desde ahora pongo el máximo en todo.

Hay miles de formas de encajar en un lugar cuando eres nuevo y una que me funciona mucho es sonreír, cuando sonrío todo se ve mas claro te va mejor en la vida y mejor aún haces muy buenas amigos que te duran para toda la vida. Cuando tienes amigos así, luego que pasas años sin saber nadas de ellos, cuando lo vez nuevamente es como si nunca se dejaron de ver. Estoy muy agradecido por ellos también.


Welcome Class of 2018-2019!

The students have arrived! On September 5th, five young adults from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru stepped outside their comfort zone and onto a plane that would take them to Seattle and into a new chapter of their lives.

They are thrilled to be here and to be part of the NPH USA community that has been awaiting them with open arms.

Join me in welcoming the Seattle Institute Class of 2019!




I am in my second year of university studying nursing. My experience in youth development is extensive; I began in the ‘Jóvenes en Acción’ group in Honduras, and then I went to four NPH International youth development workshops. Each one of these experiences was unforgettable; I learned to be a better person and example to the younger Pequeños. To me, strong leadership means to lead with humility, faith and with a sense of service. I want to be in the program to really know myself, learn English, leadership, service and to spend time with people from another culture and other countries. I am excited to see myself grow, learn and develop in ways that I never thought I would. 





I am in my fourth year of university studying public accounting and finance, and will finish my studies upon returning to Nicaragua. Over two years I supported my NPH Nicaragua family taking care of my younger sisters. This year, I hope to grow personally as a leader to better serve my NPH family or our community in a positive way, and to make an impact on the lives of other people. I am excited to meet different people, get to know their culture, learn from their life experience, as well as learn English and how I can support NPH upon my return.




moy2_1I am in my fourth year studying clinical psychology at university. I have participated in three NPH International youth development workshops; from them I have learned to be a better person to my family, friends and in my work. Before arriving in Seattle, I worked with children with disabilities in the NPH Guatemala home. They learned a lot from me, and me from them. Now in the program I want to know myself better, learn more about leadership and learn English. All of this will help me in my future to be able to help my NPH family, my biological family, and the society that I live in.





I graduated this year from university and have my degree in Administration and International Business. One work experience that I have greatly enjoyed was taking care of the boys in the NPH Peru home because I had the opportunity to listen to them, help them through difficulties, and be a guide so that they could become good people in the future. I want to be in this program to develop my leadership abilities and to serve my community, and I am excited to learn and grow as a person and leader this year.



Dominican Republic


I am in my third year of university studying medicine. One day I would like to be a doctor in the Dominican Republic. I already have professional work experience as a professor of information technology for one year, and I also worked as the coordinator of an online program that received donations for the NPH home to cover the needs of the children. To me, leadership is finding a way to serve others and positively influence their lives. I am excited to be in the Seattle program to learn more about leadership and to improve my English.



The Seattle students with their Homestays, together with staff members of NPHI and NPH USA

Transition & Gratitude

As I write this closing reflection, I am struck with gratitude and emotion. I am honored to have been a part of NPH during this period of growth and conversation. I am graced by NPH’s impact on my own personal and professional growth. There are few better words to begin this reflection other than, thank you.


Every morning, I look at the news headlines. Between reading about natural disasters, human rights atrocities, and leadership that seemingly lacks humanity, it is challenging to not be disparaged and hopeless. I am not sure if the world becomes more fragile each day, or if, in a world of technology, the injustices become louder. My Catholic faith tells me that this is not the fate of humanity, but rather our call to action to reimagine how we each can contribute to the creating the Kingdom of God. What would the world look like if we imagined moving forward hand in hand versus just reaching the end of the race before the others?


This idea is how the Seattle Institute was conceived: to create opportunities for our young adults—those who know NPH best—to grow in their own self-awareness and leadership capacity in order to create a more just and humane place for our communities. I deeply believe in the Seattle Institute and its mission to illuminate the vibrant voices of our young leaders. Every week that I worked with our students, I believed more deeply in them and the power of their perspective. By giving them the tools and resources to explore more deeply their own vocation and commitments, they embraced the challenge of deepening their awareness to become stronger leaders who will fight for the integrity of their community.


These voices exude tremendous hope and motivation! I am so grateful to NPH as an organization and family to invest in cultivating curiosity and talent. These programs not only serve our pequenos in their journey, but require us as facilitators and community to also be examining our own values and decision-making patterns. My students’ motivation and desire to keep learning is part of the reason I return to grad school to pursue a master’s degree. I hope to find similar, eager learners as I begin to study at the Keough School for Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame this fall.

I do not imagine this to be the end of my story with NPH. I plan on attending events, offering continued support, and hopefully, collaborating together again in the future. I am confident that Erin Stuckey will keep growing the program. Her eagerness to listen, to meet our students where they are at, and her motivation will propel the Seattle Institute into the next stage of existence. You will hear more from her in the coming days around her hopes and dreams for the program.

I am deeply grateful to those who have contributed to the program. To the homestays—thank you for modeling patience and generosity. Your joyful reception and continued hospitality of our students is remarkable to me. To the mentors, thank you for your willingness to enter and engage in our students’ lives whilst they are here. To our community partners, thank you for your support—from frantic visa questions to meeting IMG_7399our students where they are at to accompanying them through their journey. To the folks who have donated other resources, our program would not run without your support. I am so very grateful for your choice to invest your time and resources into our program. To my colleagues, I am astounded by your devotion and willingness to engage in this essential work. Finally, to the alums of the Seattle Institute, thank you for bring light into this world. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. You’ve impacted my life more than I can explain.

Finally, to Donna Egge for all of your support and mentorship. Thanks for taking a chance on me, and thanks for your continual investment of time and energy into this program. I am unsure of where the program would be without your clear devotion to your values and NPH’s values. I’m so grateful for the way you have impacted my life and the lives of those who surround you.

If you find yourself in Chicago or South Bend in the next few years, please do reach out at I would love to see you and stay in contact.

With deep gratitude,


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Ever’s Graduation Speech


Good afternoon everyone!

My name is Ever Terrazas Balderrama and I am from NPH Bolivia. Currently, I am studying in the university in NPH Mexico. I am grateful for this opportunity that NPH has given me, because in two days I return to Mexico as a better person. I will finish two classes and receive my degree in Industrial Engineer.

This time in Seattle has been helpful for me because I learned about myself. What abilities I have and what abilities I need to improve. I learned about what leadership means to me, and how I am a leader. A leader is the person who always find the best for everyone that is part of the group and involves everyone in making a decision. I believe when we work together, we can make big difference for the people that live around us and need our help.

I think if I want to be a good leader, I need to have a good relationship with myself, which will let me make better decisions in my life, and work well in the community that I am part.

When I return, my vision is that everyone in NPH before they leave the house opens a savings account that they use to save a bit of money each month. I’ve learned from experience that it is hard for pequenos to leave the house when they don’t have money saved. Thus, I want to coordinate with university staff so that each pequeno in their final year of university is saving money. I will find out which banks we can work with this year, before implementing the program next year. I also will begin mentoring students in how to transition from living in NPH to outside. I want to empower pequenos to become responsible adults.

Finally, I want to say thanks my family (David, Karen, Elias, Joshua), and all of you for helping us in Seattle. In the beginning was very difficult for me because my English was very bad but now I think is a little better!

Thank you!!

Maria’s Graduation Speech

Hello my name is María Girón and I am from NPH Honduras. I’m very grateful to the Seattle Institute for letting me be one of their students. Through this year, I have learned a lot and I have had the opportunity to live with a great family and dog.

During this year, I have learned about leadership and myself. I learned that being a great leader is not just doing what needs to be done, but taking initiative to help others. I have learned that if I want to be a great leader I must know myself and use my gifts for the benefit of others.

When I go back to my country, I plan to work on a team that can teach sexual and reproductive education to our girls and boys, because I think that it is important to start a program where the kids can learn about themselves and ask questions openly.

This is important to me because until now, I didn’t realize that the kind of leader I want to be is the one that fights and works for women’s rights. To be able to achieve this, I will prepare myself as best as I can. I will invite experts that are as passionate as I am to speak about this. My team will include a doctor, a psychologist, and a catechist, so that we can provide holistic and correct information to our boys and girls.

I’m very grateful with all the people involved with the Seattle institute but I want to give an special thanks to my host family, you guys have made this year easy and fun for me. You have taught me a lot and I am so glad that you guys were the ones chosen as my family. I really think that I could not have any other better family as you. I want to thank you for pushing me to do things that I like, and encouraging me to do the things I don’t like. You gave me a great experience and taught me how important family is.

Now that the program is finishing for us, I am leaving with an immense satisfaction. I am grateful for the things that I learned, the places I went, the people I met, and the great teacher we had. I’m excited to see where the person I’m becoming goes in the future.


Yomara’s Graduation Speech

Hello Everyone,

My name is Yomara Hernandez and I am from Nicaragua.

As I stand here today, I not only come close to ending this chapter in my life, but also to recount the past ten wonderful months here.  It has been an honor to be a part of this program and to share in this wonderful experience with all of you. An experience in which I obtained a lot of new knowledge, such as self-care, feedback, communication, and many more.  Also, during this journey being away from Nicaragua, I have noticed that I am ready to go back and share what I’ve gained as a teacher.

My big vision when I return to Nicaragua is to create more possibility of free education for people in the communities where having education have been difficult.  For me education offer a better opportunity in life and better possibility to be more successful.  I am determined to create a youth group from NPH, motivate them to share with people with less opportunity.

I would like to thank to my entire NPH family in Seattle.  All this experience, vision and knowledge would not have been possible without you.  Thank you for putting your trust in me and guiding me through this process. Mona and John, you have been Angels in my life.  Thank you for opening your home, heart and sharing wonderful moments with me. Thank you to all my mentors. Thank you to all my teachers in Seattle Central College who guided me in receiving the best education possible!!! I am also thankful to all the Seattle Institute Leadership students, I am so proud of us.  I really enjoyed my time together.

I am so excited to go back to Nicaragua and share my experiences in Seattle. I am looking forward to hugging my entire family and tell them how much I missed them. I am also ready to eat a delicious gallopinto and tasty Nacatamal 😊

Thank you!!

Farid’s Graduation Speech

IMG_8408I’m Farid Morel. I’m from Honduras. To start, I would like to thank God for our life, health and all the opportunities. I thank Fr. Wasson for giving us our extended family of Nuestros Pequenos Hemanos.

I remember those emotional moments, when I left Honduras and arrived at the Seattle airport where Jacqueline and all the homestays were waiting for us. I felt uncertain about the beginning of the new chapter in my life. Now, it has been almost 10 months in Seattle and it has been an amazing experience.

I have gained important tools to be an effective leader and serve for my community when I go back to Honduras. For example, with my new knowledge, I’d like to contribute to NPH by creating a program where those who grew up at NPH, like HM, can get to know better and accompany each pequenos atIMG_8680 NPH. I feel that this will make NPH more united.  Because I believe that when pequenos have more connection with HMs, they will find more support and purpose in their lives.  As HM myself, I feel called and committed to help each pequenos who needs support.

Now, I would like to thank Peach and David for opening your house and being part of my journey. I’m grateful to both of you for including me and making me feel a part of your family.

I want to thank Jacqueline for her unconditional support as a good leader in our NPH family. I also want to thank Donna, all the NPH staff, homestays, MAPFRE, ILEAP, mentors and sponsors. Thanks for believing in our extended family, because none of this would be possible without you.

Finally, I would also like to share with all the students Ever, Yomara, Maria, Darling and Darich. The world may be falling in pieces around us, but this is when we have to become brave, follow our curiosity, be ambitious and not abandon our dreams…because in this moment the world needs us the most.

Thank you!IMG_8614