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 shraderj31@gmail.com. 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

Darlyn’s Graduation Speech


My name is Darlyn, and I consider myself as a philanthropist – which means people helping other people.  And, I am a strong and resilient woman from Guatemala.

The experience of being outside of my country and far from the people who’ve supported me has been very difficult, and, at the same time very constructive.  They have made me wiser and stronger for me to continue having this kind of experience, which will help me for the rest of my life.

Leadership for me means much more than just guiding people to achieve an objective. It is to inspire others and love what we are co-creating as a team.

I consider that one of my skills is to be able to communicate with people, which I believe to be very important.  Since people need to know how to articulate so that they can participate in creating the vision together.

I want to be able to inspire people in the course of my life so that those who I work with can continue to be the agents of change. I believe that when wIMG_8607e know ourselves better, we are able to inspire the rest of the people around us.

When I return to NPH, I want to find ways of creating healthier community inside and outside of NPH.  At NPH, I would like to teach pequenos and tias about healthy lifestyle.  As a physical therapist, I know that having a healthy lifestyle is challenging for many people.  But it benefits us all in terms of quality of life.  I would like to give workshops to staff about how to care for their own health while they take care of pequenos.  I also want to help our pequenos to learn about how to be healthy.

IMG_8686I want to thank all the people who have been in this process which has shaped me to be a more committed person with more goals. Especially to my homestay, Boysen Family, my mentors, Carry, Christina, and Lisa.

Thank you

Darich’s Graduation Speech

Good afternoon everyone! My name is Darich Muñoz and I’m from NPH Nicaragua.

It’s amazing how time goes by so fast; it seems that it was a week ago that we arrived in Seattle and that I just blinked and here we are almost on our way to return to our countries.

The Seattle Institute Program has been a unique experience that has marked my life for many reasons. One of these reasons is the incredible family that opened the doors of their house and mainly of their heart to welcome me as a member of their own family. With them, Roger and Judy Paulsen, I have shared many beautiful moments that I will always appreciate in a special way. There were also other people like mentors, and those who are in love with NPH that are the reason why this experience has been incredible and easier to assimilate.

This experience has made me more aware of my abilities and skills as a leader, but it has also highlighted what makes me vulnerable and what I still have to work on. I hope to have the opportunity to put into practice what I have learned in this program and be an influence for others in the NPH family and society in general.

Once I return to my country, I would like to create a mentoring group for NPH kids. Many pequenos have come to me saying that they have troubles trusting other people whom they don’t know well. I think it is important that we look for new options that can help the kids deal with some of the problems they have to face. I would like to work with our team of psychologists to train mentors who are also pequenos so that they can listen and provide support to peers who need it. This way, pequenos can connect more with others and build stronger, more reliable relationships. I hope this initiative will give leadership opportunities to older pequenos, and that this relationship will provide safe spaces for pequenos to find support and feel the love they deserve.

To finish, I am truly grateful to NPH and the Seattle community for joining us on this special day. It is because of you and your selfless love that this work is possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing us this fantastic opportunity because it is a great step to know how to serve as true leaders to our NPH family and in any area of our lives.

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.