The Power of Saying Yes

Between all of the commitments and news cycles, it can be challenging to maintain a positive mindset. Maria shares about her perspective of saying yes, and the opportunities that a positive mindset can bring. 

While I’ve been here, many people have IMG_8083asked me, “what is the most important thing that I have learned during my time in Seattle?” I have learned a lot about leadership, cross-cultural communication, self-awareness, and how to create and be part of a team that works in the best way to achieve what they want. I have learned to share how I feel when I’m upset or happy. I also have learned to be empathetic with the people that are around me, and to take advantage of the things and time that I have here and to communicate better or at least try to do it.

I know that all of this is important and necessary, but for me the most important thing that I have learn here is to say YES to everything. I want you all to know how IMG_8053important this is for me. Knowing to say YES has brought me to events and opportunities that I thought I could never do and meet people and places that I love now. I didn’t realize until know that saying YES was the reason why I’m here, saying YES has making me meet great people and make excellent friendships through the whole year. Saying yes to things has helped me accept who I am and to accept others.

I just want to say thank you to the people that were responsible of teaching me this. I love you for teaching me this and for all the things that you have done for me during this year.


The Importance of Mentors

Darich wrote about how helpful the mentors he has had while in Seattle play an important role in his time. The Seattle Institute tries to find mentors who speak the students’ own language, and/or who can offer additional support and perspective throughout the time the students are here. Thanks so much to those who mentor our students!!

How easy or challenging could it be the fact of being in a foreign country? The truth is really hard to find a way to describe exactly how the experience of living in a new country is. I believe that one of the most difficult things of being away from my home country is missing family, friends, and simple things like food. However, not everything must be bad because this has also been an opportunity to know new people, a new culture, a chance to learn English and about Leadership skills, and many other things.

Being in Seattle has been an amazing experience, and I do believe that the people that we have met during the process are the ones who make unique our time in an unknown place. Some of those special people that I am really thankful to be part of my life are the homestays who opened their houses and hearts to us. However, they are not the only ones who have helped us to face the challenges or to give us the opportunity to have an amazing experience while in Seattle. Mentors have also been a guide in our way. Most of the time they are willing to give us some of their time to listen to us, give us an advise or just to make of our day a different and great one.

Sharing time with my mentors has been a chance to understand in a better way the value of family. The reason why I consider it is because they have been a real example of what a family does. Although we do not see frequently to each other, the mentors are interested about how we are doing in our daily life, in the school, and with our host families. As always, for the first time is weird because we do not know to each other. However, at this point of my life I can say that they are more than just mentors, they are family.

Personally, I am really glad about the incredible chances that being in this program has provided me. I am also thankful for those people who are always supporting to the NPH family.

Megan, Kay, David and Christina Buchholz, and all the other mentors thank you for being part of our life. All of you have been a great support for us.


Challenges and Successes

Yomara decided to write about some of the challenges and successes she has experience in Seattle so far. Please read what she shares below—in her own English!

Right now, we are in our sixth month of the Leadership Program in Seattle. During this long journey, we have found strong challenges which have made us feel sad and sometimes scared. Some of these challenges have been home sick, stress, tired, frustration because of the different culture and the language specially has been difficult.

IIMG_7798n my own experience, I could tell you that it has not been easy. I have felt frustrated because I really want to be successful in my life. Being far away from my native country and my family has reminded me how much I love my country and my entire family. Although this is not bad at all because I would not trade this opportunity for anything.

Staying in Seattle has been also the best experience. We have grown as a person, we have gotten important knowledge which in the future will help us to continue learning. We have achieved a big piece of our principal goal that is being a better leader for our houses, our countries and our entire world.

I am so grateful to be able to share part of my life with many people who are involved in supporting us in Seattle. They have showed me a really big sense of family. Our Seattle family has given us a big push to step out of our comfort zone and achieve all that we possibly can. They constantly do this for us because of the firm believe in each of the six of us as a pequeno.IMG_7816



Farid is from NPH Honduras. He is in the process of completing his degree in Psychology there. Here, he reflects back on one of the major NPH USA events held every November. Read about what his impression was of this big event!

NPH makes sure that every pequeno feels safe, happy and receives all the attention necessary. Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos is like an extended family who prioritizes the safety and well being of their children, not only hoping that the pequenos grow


physically, but also academically. Through tangible experiences, NPH makes certain every pequeno has the opportunity to mature and flourish so that they can one day make proper decisions when they leave the homes.

It is because of this, NPH offers various local programs for the kids, adolescents and young adults to participate in and learn from in their own homes. There are also programs overlooked by NPH International, serving as the final stepping stones during the transitional phase from   NPH homes to the outside world.


I am a part of one of the program run by NPH Seattle with an objective for pequenos to develop leadership skills in order to serve society on a global scale, just like Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos. We are also able to learn English while we are here, a tool which connects us better to NPH USA.

I want to share with you an experience I have shared with NPH USA, one which every pequeno should be able to experience. Referred to as, “The Gala” by the NPH Bellevue office, all of whom I wish to mention, however, I don’t want to miss someone since there are so many of you who come together to make this a reality. We appreciate and support you in all the work you so humbly do for our homes to be able to provide us with all the basic necessities.

The gala is one of the events managed by NPH USA with the intention of raising funds for NPH’s nine homes. These funds are allocated to the health, growth, education and other priorities that are necessary depending on each pequeno. NPH invites the general public th


rough the NPH USA website while donors, volunteers, sponsors and ex-volunteers receive personal invitations, many of which are from friends and family who share some kind of link with Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos.




This is how so many people are able to come and participate in the gala. In the gala on November 4, 2017 Magdalena Marroquin, an hermana mayor–an older sister, from NPH Mexico shared her story and highlighted the importance of every donor, sponsor and NPH contributor for each pequeno.

The ac


tivities included a raffle of donated prizes, and an auction. Many things were auctioned and won including tickets to fly to our homes, dinners at different restaurants, wines, and a lot of other nice things. However, it is moments like these where one can see that the guests at the gala do not participate to win something…in fact it is the opposite. They participate because they are happy helping us and they know that the money they give is used to cover necessary costs that the children, adolescents and young adults need at the homes.

It is a very satisfying moment for all the participants and staff knowing that we have reached the donation goal for NPH. This is how we will be able to change lives through education, health, medical assistance, spirituality, and being able to provide every pequeno with people specifically suited to help them in whatever ways they need.

It is very heartwarming to have met the people who have humbly helped us change our lives.NPH_2017_Gala_(50_of_470)-(ZF-4881-14964-1-002)


Self-Awareness: The Key to Being a Good Leader

Darich is one of our Nicaraguan participants. He decided to write a reflection about the four days spent in iLeap in December, covering topics such as self-awareness, triggers, and social enterprise. Darich wanted to write about his experiences and takeaways from the workshop–in his own English!: 

Being a leader is not just about IMG_6465having followers or dictating orders about what, why or when to do something. Being a good leader is about knowing what is happening into yourself and how that affect to yourself and your surround.

Almost four months have passed from we came to Seattle, and it has been an amazing time to meet new people, learn English at the college, know new cultures, but above all it’s been a time to learn new skills about Leadership. The most important point of this program, which we are (Darlyn, Ever, Farid, María, Yomara & me) involved in, is to form true leaders capable to serve and lead in our NPH homes. More than a program to learn English, it’s a leadership program.


Workshops, retreats, and visiting some organizations have just been some of the activities which we have had to get the necessary knowledge to understand and learn how to be a good Leader.

One of the most amazing and helpful experiences that we have had to understand in a better way what does mean being a Leader, it has been the visit of four days in iLEAP. For a better understanding, iLEAP is an organization which its purpose is to create more social justice and equity in the world and to lift up and sustain the community-based leaders who are the center of social change. iLEAP believes that, if we grow, transform, and connect these people that it will lead to stronger communities, countries, and less human suffering in the world.

These days that we spent in iLEAP were more than a nice time. It was a time to share and learn how to trust in ourselves to be a true leader in our NPH homes, families, countries and our own lives. As leaders and pequeños, all of us have different storIMG_6467ies and different skills which make us unique. Therefore, it is really difficult to take the right decisions when you are not conscious about what could be the effects of our actions. I consider, that is the reason why iLEAP is very focus in the Self-Awareness to be a good leader.

Also being in iLEAP, I learned that leadership is not only about yourself; it is also about how to work with other people. For this, it’s necessary to build trust, but how do you build trust? Trust is built by a little at a time; learning to trust to each other, and always reminding that everyone has something important and different to give.

It’s important to remember that Father Wasson dreamt to see pequeños leading in NPH houses, but the thing most important was to see pequeños really worried and committed about looking for the best for his kids, for his family. Now, it’s our time to learn how to be a good leader. Therefore, it is not easy because everyone has different stories which many time stop us to follow and be good leaders. That’s why I believe it’s really important the Self-Awareness.

Knowing about ourselves makes easier to identify our strengths and weakness. This, at the same time, makes us aware about our own decisions, and how this impact our surroundings. Father Wasson said: “It is surprising what you can do in a lifetime if you just do it a little at a time”.

During the time in iLEAP, we were talking about the different styles of leadership, and we tried to identify what kind of leader we thought we were. It was interesting to know that everyone has different ways to lead. Some of the guys said that they are directive, others said they are visionary, or strategic, or collaborative. Also, everyone shared what kind of leader would like to be. The truth is that if we want to get something or be a kind of person or leader, it’s not enough wish it. The main key to get what we want is to take actions and work hard for it. Thus, many times, we are not able to do this because we are so confident with ourselves being in our comfort zone that we rather do not take risks.

If we really want to be leaders and learn what we are capable to do, it is necessary to get out of our comfort zone and try new experiences. It does not matter if you make mistakes; this is a way to learn about life and yourself. We have to remember that we grow with every challenge that we take.

Personally, I believe this was a great chance to be trust with myself, but it was also a IMG_6466 (1)chance to learn about others and trust on them. And remember, it’s okay to feel afraid sometimes because this is also a way to learn. Feeling afraid, you can encourage to yourself to do things that you probably consider impossible. Taking risks, understanding triggers, having a clear and compelling picture of a desired future, and taking actions are some keys to get a Self-Awareness, and once you are self-awareness you can be a true leader.

My Homestay

Maria, one of our Honduran participants, wanted to write about her homestay experience so far. She shares the following, in her own English:

One of the best experiences while we are in Seattle as a student of the Seattle institute program is having the opportunity to share your time with a family from Seattle. At the beginning it is a little bit hard, because we must get use to the life in the USA, but we are so lucky that the amazing people in our houses help us to get thru this big step.

I think that for us, as pequeños, comes a little hard at the beginning because we do not use to live in a small family, as you well know we share home with 300 or more siblings at the same time. Sounds crazy I know, but it is one of the best things in life. So, when you came here and start get a lot of attention, help, and love; you start feel a little uncomfortable because it is something hard to get when you live with 300 siblings. But then your mind starts to change letting you know that you deserve that, and you start to accept it. So, you start to feel as a real member of your family. And it is in that time that you start to be more grateful, because you just don’t find someone that allows you to stay in their house, they also listen to you, they ask you how was your day, they give you rides; even if you are going somewhere far away in the middle of nowhere. They make you feel like you are part of their home and even the21369449_1373692449396539_205639336522730743_n dog starts loving you (this is one of my favorite parts).


In these short tree months, that we have been sharing with our host family, I have learned a lot. One of my favorite learning so far: is that if I want to meet a little bit more of the people I care; or I want to know, I have to say yes to every invitation they make me, even if they ask me if I want some pasote and I heard pozole, and when I get to their house I’m waiting the pozole and they came with a weird green plant. So, the secret is say yes and take it…!!




I’m glad that our program has this amazing people that helps us with this transition and make everything easier for all of us. I just want to say that without you all, this wouldn’t be the same. For all the great job that you are doing and being part of our lives in this special time. I want to be especially thankful with all of you: Mona and John Fonseca, Tom and Catherine Boysen, Peach and David Jack, Karen and Dave Fitton, and Roger and Judy Paulsen, I love you all, but I have to say that I have the most perfect and great family of all: The Martinez (Terre and Martin). I’m so lucky to have them and to share with them seven months more of this great experience.


After all, the best part of these is that even is just one-year experience, we all know that we will be family forever, because this kind of relationships will not break when we go back to our countries.

Maria G.

Yomara talks about Seattle Central College

For her blog post, Yomara wanted to write a bit about why she chose to apply to the Seattle Institute and how her experience at Seattle Central has been. She also wrote in her own English!

My name is Yomara Hernandez and I am from Nicaragua. I came to NPH when I was eleven years old and I grew up there. During my thirteen years in NPH, I have learned a lot about myself and strive to become a good person. For that reason, I decided to participate in the third Leadership Conference in NPH Guatemala. I really loved it. After that, I became a much better individual and started helping my NPH family.

After a few years, I learned about the great opportunity to participate in the NPH Leadership Institute Program in Seattle. It was just six months ago when I was chosen to be part of this amazing program. I was extremely excited! Although, I was feeling scared and nervous about the distance and the time away from my family, I decided to do it because I wanted to be a better person.

I came to Seattle two and a half months ago and our first quarter started two weeks after I arrived. In the beginning, I had many thoughts about all the international students, their behavior, and their interactions with me. I was thinking about that because of our different cultures, languages, and traditions.

Now, I feel so comfortable with all my classmates. They are friendly, crazy, funny, and so warm. Now, I am learning, I am sharing, and I am creating new and wonderful experiences.

Seattle Central College is a place where I can study, find new friends, and interchange knowledge. My first quarter has really been very interesting and I hope to continue learning.

Adapting to Seattle

Throughout the year, each participant will offer a couple of reflections on their time in Seattle. We start with Darlyn, our participant from Guatemala. 

My time in Seattle has been very interesting so far. It is helpful to remember that I come from a country that is conservative in terms of our culture. I’ve always tried to see things from a different point of view there, and I’ve been grateful to the people who have helped give me a wider perspective. Seattle’s diversity of cultures and perspective makes you feel like you’re traveling to many parts of the worlds all at the same time. I don’t have the words yet to describe it.

Seattle has also been challenging. It is tough to start a new life completely, but know that there are many new opportunities that will help me grow. I am more relaxed by knowing that I have peers who speak my language, even though I didn’t know any of the other five that are in the group before I started this year!

The first few days in class have been very interesting. My class is very diverse in culture, and I am the only latina. Our accents are very different from each other, and make it hard to understand each other. I now have been here almost 3 months, and I feel more relaxed. I am more confident in my public speaking and trust my peers more. Yes, it has been a journey full of emotions, but it has been an incredible experience. I know that I still have much to learn. I am ready to continue challenging myself though!






Welcome, Class of 2018!

We are so excited to have the class of 2018 here in Seattle! So far, they’ve been settling in well, completing orientation for the program, Seattle Central, and moving in with their homestays. It’s going to be a great year!


Hello! I’m Farid, and I’m from Honduras. I’m so happy to be here in Seattle. I want to thank God for allowing me to be here and to all the people who support the program so that we (pequeños) have this fantastic opportunity. Thanks for all of your support! May God bless you!


IMG_6412I’m Yomara, from Nicaragua. I’m excited to be here and spend time with different people, learn from different experiences, and grow as a person. I can’t wait to share all that I learn with my country, family, and brother and sisters. I will serve them all with love!



IMG_6418Hi, I’m Darich from Nicaragua. I am excited and thankful to be here. I am sure it will be a great experience sharing knowledge with different people, who will help and teach us how to be a good leaders in our family of NPH. I know sometimes it will be a little bit hard but I know with the help of God and the people here everything will be great.



Hi! I’m Darlyn from Guatemala. I’m so excited to start this new experience! I know this is a great opportunity and I have to take advantage of this because it will surely make me a better person.  When I return to my country, I want to make a difference for my brothers and sisters in NPH, and the rest of the world.


Buenas! I’m Maria, from Honduras. I’m excited to learn more about leadership, develop the tools to make me a better person, and learn to be more present to others. If I learn to be a better leader, I’ll be more able to support my home.




Hello! I’m Ever, and I’m from Bolivia.  I wanted to come to Seattle to experience growth as an adult. I want to develop my professional and personal skills to keep serving my NPH family, which is what Fr. Wasson wanted all of us to do. Gracias!

Letter from the Director


I am writing you all after finishing a fruitful and growth-filled year with the NPH Seattle Institute. For those of you who are not familiar with the Seattle Institute, each year Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos selects six young adult pequeños from a competitive application process. We invite them to live in Seattle for ten months, staying with a homestay, attending English classes at Seattle Central College, and engaging in leadership formation through meetings, workshops, and retreats. On June 25th, we celebrated the graduation of the class of 2017, and a total of thirty-three graduates over the last six years.

One of the reasons I was first attracted to working for NPH was the way that we invest in leadership formation and empower leaders from within the organization. For example, we have leadership groups in the houses that focus on empowering girls and teenagers. We annually offer a Youth Leadership conference, where all the houses send pequeños to participate in a weeklong workshop together on leadership. In Seattle, we offer the Seattle Institute and the NPH Global Leadership program, which partners with local organization iLEAP to train and develop our hermanos mayores (older brothers and sisters) and staff working in the homes.

While creating safe spaces to reflect and engage with others, these programs are an invitation to grow personally and professionally. Participants spend much time celebrating the joys and pondering the challenges that face NPH. Due to the length of the Seattle Institute, we are able to spend time covering many topics, such as self-awareness, communication, growing interpersonal skills, and leadership. I admire our students’ courage and boldness in examining their past, discussing their present, and imagining what their future paths could hold under the pretext of leadership.

This year in the Seattle Institute, we split the year into five different sections: transition, teambuilding, self-awareness, professional skills, and personal vocation. Some of the projects that give students opportunities to demonstrate what they’ve learned were the Christmas Party in December, their speeches given at NPH USA events, and their final projects through iLEAP, our partner organization focusing in global leadership. Throughout the year, they attend English classes at Seattle Central College. Three of our students were so advanced that they took college-level humanities classes at SCC. Through five different retreats, weekly Saturday formational and check-in meetings, and various events in Seattle, the students are challenged to improve their English, learn and employ leadership knowledge, and work on their own identity. I am incredibly proud of the success of the six this year—which you can read more about in other blog posts.

The month-long Global Leadership program with iLEAP focused on similar themes of professional growth, improving English, and leadership within their NPH homes. The nine participants worked on professional growth, imagined future projects for their respective homes, and talked about the importance of self-care. Additionally, they were able to visit three Seattle businesses that center their mission on social enterprise and community development. In their final presentations, they all commented on feeling re-engergized, more dedicated, and excited about implementing all they had gleaned from the program in their lives and and sharing with their NPH colleagues.

All of our programs focus on servant leadership—with the word servant being key. Too often, the standard metric of leadership is associated with prestige and authority. Rather, we focus on everyone’s ability to be a leader, to affect change, and to contribute to his or her local communities. For example, we talk about the hot summer of 1954 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where a little boy robbed Fr. Wasson. Instead of being angry or scared, Fr. Wasson decided to put fear of this little boy aside in order to practice compassion and love. Not only was this the beginning of NPH, but it also serves as a fantastic model of decision making where compassion reigns over fear and begins a movement.

I am proud to work for an organization that believes in cultivating experiences for our youth and staff. I believe that the seeds planted through any combination of these opportunities come to fruition in beautiful ways. The exposure to a broader landscape of ideas and people that happens in Seattle enriches the participants’ ability to lead in a flexible, responsible and compassionate manner. Keep an eye out for these wonderful young adults!

Paz y bien,

Jacqueline Shrader