This past January 17th through the 24th, over 40 NPH student guests from eight different countries participated in the 6th Annual NPHI ‘Paz y Bien’ Youth Development Conference.
Youth from the Dominican Republic, Peru, Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador spent eight full, memorable days learning about leadership and putting their skills into practice in the NPH El Salvador home.
The theme of the week was ‘Together, we make the change!’ A variety of topics were explored, from teamwork, to the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens’ by Sean Covey, to listening with the mind and heart. The youth were empowered by exchanging ideas with a guest panel of NPH leaders and discussing how to improve the homes’ academic and formation programs. Every day began with a prayer and ended with a reflection led by the youth.
‘The call to serve’ was an integral part of the workshop, and the participants took action by working in the fields, taking care of the elderly in a local nursing home, and preparing and serving food at a nearby soup kitchen for the community.
The youth also had the opportunity to learn more about Oscar Romero, a past archbishop of San Salvador who lived out his life fighting for social justice and serving the poor. He is a hero to many of our kids. To learn more about Oscar Romero’s mission, the kids took a daylong excursion to tour the Hospital Divina Providencia Chapel and to the ‘UCA’ (‘Central American University’), both of which commemorate his life of service.
Guest visitors enriched the workshop with their insight, and among many included Reinhart Koehler, Miguel Venegas, Dr. Michael Maccoby, Kara King, the students from the NPH Seattle Institute program, Olegario Campos, Brenda Mendez, John Deblasio and Father Reynaldo. The conference was led by the Family Service team members Donna Egge, Markus Streit and Erin Stuckey.
The youth participants share a glimpse of their takeaways from the week:
“There is always someone out there in need of my help, and I need to offer it.”
~Mireya, Dominican Republic home, 19 years old
“I learned that when helping other people, one feels a peace within, and it makes you grow as a person.”
~Mirna, Nicaragua home, 25 years old
“I must first make a change in my life to be able to change something in my NPH home. And I must listen with the heart.”
~Andrea, Guatemala home, 19 years old
“I learned that a person cannot make important decisions with only the mind, or only the heart, but that both need to be used.”
~Daniel, México home, 18 years old
As one can quickly see, our youth are reflective individuals and motivated to lead by serving others. The goal of these conferences is to provide them with a platform for personal and professional development, and for the participants to continue growing and apply what they learned to make an impact within their NPH home and the outside community.