Innovators in Training

written by Hannah Hume, Bhutanese Teens Ministry Coordinator 

Innovation is a core value at Mission Adelante. Refugee and immigrant families must innovate in order to succeed. When you come to a new country, you are facing a new culture, new problems, new value systems and structures. The ability to adapt, to problem solve and innovate is necessary for new families to thrive in America.    

Problem solving and innovation is something that we work hard to teach to teenagers in our weekly programs. Once a month at Mission Adelante, Bhutanese teens plan and host an outreach program for their peers. During the month Mission Adelante staff and volunteers work closely with students as they plan the event. We give them space to plan something that is exciting to them and that they feel will meet the felt needs of their peer community.

As they plan they often run into problems. It can be tempting as adults when problems arise or when we see a potential problem looming to want to smooth things over for the students. However, we work hard to step back and allow the students to solve the problem for themselves in an appropriate way. Then, later, we can coach the students through how to avoid that problem in the future or think of ways they can handle it next time. They often learn important lessons from getting the chance to innovate and succeed, to try and fail in controlled and safe environments. Lessons that help them gain confidence, take ownership, grow in leadership and develop skills needed to succeed in school, future jobs, and life.

Last week, at the monthly Teens Club, students self organized themselves to bring food to the event. Someone signed up to bring paper plates, but failed to do so. So, when it came time to eat there were no plates to put the food on. The teens however quickly innovated a solution. They took the pizza boxes and tore them into squares to use as makeshift plates. Simple. Creative. What do teens learn from eating off of torn up pizza boxes you may ask? I talked to several teens afterwards and here were some of the things they said:

If someone isn’t responsible to do their job, even if its small, it makes it harder for everyone. It’s important to do your job well.

We need to plan better, next time and remind people of what their jobs are, so they don’t forget”.

When we work together we can fix the problems.

These are lessons I’m betting many employers and school teachers would say are valuable. I’m excited to watch these students learn and grow and innovate! Who knows, maybe they will be the ones to innovate solutions to the bigger, grander problems in our world someday!

Innovate away teens!



  • Our Leaders in Training family will be celebrating the hard work of the kids by going to Great Wolf Lodge this weekend.  30 kids and 15 adults will be playing, learning, and having fun to reward the kids for working so hard.


  • We are having a work day to insulate the house rehab this Saturday, December 6th from 9am to 4:00 pm.  Please let Sarah know if you would like to help, even for just part of the day.  We are nearly ready for the professional sheet rockers next week, but we need to get the house insulated this weekend to be able to proceed.  Email to RSVP or for more information.
  • Our Leaders in Training program has a “Mission Adelante Money Store” at the end of each trimester.  In the store students money they have earned doing extra work, and exhibiting behavior above and beyond what is expected of them to buy small prizes.  Our students have done an amazing job this year, and we are in need of more items.  We are in need of small toys and prizes of interest to 8-12 year old students by Tuesday December 9th.  If you are interested in helping please contact Kristen Maxwell at or Megan McDermott at


  • The Latino Outreach and Bhutanese Outreach Fall Trimester Parties are on Saturday, December 13th at 4pm.