Interview with a Graduate: Joselyn Calle

29333905716_08584a97de_zSwam on down to Ecuador this week to connect with one of our 2017 graduates – Joselyn Calle. We chatted about memories from the past and dreams for the future. 

Are you going to attend college? And, if you are going to attend, what do you want to study?

Joselyn: If I go to college I would like to pursue law degree.

What are some of the most important moments you remember from school – your favorite memories?

Joselyn: Getting together with my classmates. To have shared many experiences and anecdotes that in the future will tell my children about.  

What are your expectations for your university experiences?

Joselyn: I think my goals and experiences at university will be nice and satisfying.

Is there a person who inspires you? If so, why?

Joselyn: The people who inspire me are very special in my life. They have given me support and trust, which inspires me.

Have you changed during your time at school?

Joselyn: Yes, I have noticed some changes in myself. I have become more responsible, my skills have grown which makes me proud because I feel that I am a very capable person.  

Calle Joseline-2017What talents and skills did you discover or develop at school?

Joselyn: My skills and talents are unique, I believe I’m a woman who is very capable of doing different things. I do not have a specific talent but I feel that I am able to fulfill my dreams and goals.

What do you hope to achieve over the next five years?

Joselyn: To have accomplished my goals and continue with my professional career.


If you could change one thing about your educational experience would it be?

Joselyn: My educational experience was very pleasant, so I would not change anything. They are anecdotes in my life which give me many examples, so I would not change anything.

Thanks Joselyn! And congratulations of your graduation. We know your future is bright and full of wonderful experiences. 



¿Vas a asistir a la universidad? Y, si vas a asistir, ¿qué quieres estudiar?

Si voy asistir y me gustaría seguir la carrera leyes

¿Qué son unos momentos más importantes que recuerdas del colegio- tus memorias favoritas?

Si voy a las reuniones con mis compañeros. Haber compartido muchas experiencias y anécdotas que en algún futuro serán contadas a mis hijos

¿Qué son unas metas que tienes para tu experiencia y estudias en la universidad?

Mis metas y mis experiencias para la universidad pensar que voy hacer sean agradables y satisfactoria

¿Hay una persona que te inspira? Si hay ¿Por qué?

La persona que me inspira es muy especial en mi vida la cual me ha brindado su apoyo y confianza por esa razón es una inspiración para mí

¿Has cambiado durante tu tiempo en el colegio?

Sí, he notado algunos cambios en mi me he vuelto más responsable mis capacidades han aumentado lo cual me enorgullece porque siento que soy una persona muy capas

¿Cómo descubriste tu talento y tus habilidades en el colegio?

Mis habilidades y talentos son únicos yo me creo una mujer súper que capaz de realizar diversas cosas no tengo un talento en específico pero si recomiendo que soy capaz de cumplir mis sueños y metas propuestas

¿Qué esperas lograr durante los próximos cincos años?

Haber culminado a seguir con mi carrera profesional

¿Si pudieras cambiar una cosa sobre tu experiencia educativa que sería?

Mi experiencia educativa fue muy agradable por lo cual no cambiaría nada ya que son anécdotas en mi vida la cual me dan muchos ejemplo por  lo cual yo no cambiaría nada


Volunteer Reflection: Taken Aback

Jackie traveled to Ecuador this year for a few weeks, and immediately immersed herself in the culture.  Her positive attitude and energy allowed her a special opportunity to get to know many of our students and families.  Today she reflects on a few of these special people in her life!

“Taken aback, I believe, is the most accurate way to describe how I’ve been feeling and how I’ve been processing all the different and beautiful people I have met here.

There are some people we encounter– and we all know who they are, in our own lives– that shine and live so ferociously that, even when we close our eyes, we see the bright outlines cast by their luminescent presence. These people, simply by their existence, encourage us to be better, kinder, gentler, and to live in a bold, brave, and intentional way. These kinds of people leave indelible marks on our spirits and minds. They are colorful and magnificent, radiating with determination, love, and hope. Even in seemingly hopeless and impossible situations, these people rise above the material world and overcome countless obstacles through inner strength- strength of the soul.

I have met such people here, people my own age whom I look up to as role models and hold as friends. Thinking of them and their goals and dedication inspires me to live in a radical and beautiful manera.

Melanie. Now in her final year of high school, she spends three hours total commuting to and from school each day, and on Mondays and Thursdays, she skips lunch so she can attend refuerzo and receive extra help with English and her other studies. She is a devoted student, a talented dancer, a caring daughter, a loving sister, and a loyal friend. She dreams of becoming a flight attendant: of learning languages, attending university, of traveling and seeing the world. And she will.

Joel. Currently a first year student at a top private university in Guayaquil. His high test scores, hard work, and determination led him to win a prestigious scholarship that covers 100% of his tuition. He, like Melanie, has a long commute to and from classes, and afterwards comes home to study and volunteer at Starfish, thus giving back to a foundation that gave him opportunities to grow, succeed, and continue the process of lifelong learning. He studies hard: he studies to maintain his scholarship, to learn about economics and business, and to secure a stable occupation for himself. He wholeheartedly dedicates himself to growing in knowledge to achieve his dreams. And he will.

Maria. Like Joel, she is also a first year university student. And, like Melanie and Joel, she travels several hours each day to attend classes. She studies medicine: biology, chemistry, anatomy. She has a beautiful smile, loves to dance and sing, and she, also, gives back to Starfish and works there as an educadora, providing help that she once received. She is an inspiration to the students at refuerzo, and an inspiration to me. She studies for countless hours, loves her family and friends, and dreams of becoming a pediatrician. And she will.

Melanie, Joel, Maria. They exemplify hard work, passion, creativity, love, and dedication. They constantly overcome obstacles, they leap over the many hurdles that stand in their paths, and they rise above unjust situations. I feel honored and grateful to know them, and I am proud and joyful to call them my friends.

~ We must allow the world to pierce our hearts. For if we are not passionate, sensitive, and courageous, we are nothing ~  “

~Jackie A., Starfish Volunteer.  Read more reflections from Jackie on her blog!

Studying Medicine in Ecuador

Today we’d like to share María’s thoughts on her studies in medicine. This was originally posted to Engineering World Health’s blog.

María graduated from high school & Starfish in March 2014 and since then has worked as a teacher (educador) at Starfish’s tutoring program. She is 17 (18 this Saturday!) and just finished her first semester at college! María writes:
En Ecuador siempre se han enfocado en la educación pero muy poco en la salud, por ello hay niños con desnutrición y deficiencia para aprender. Esto me inspiró aún más a seguir medicina y sobre todo especializarme en Pediatría. Al seguir esta carrera jamas pensé afrontar la obsesión por la perfección de mis compañeros, la desigualdad de genero y sobretodo la imposición de los hombres. Mi consejo es que seguir medicina puede no ser fácil , si bien es cierto es una carrera de resistencia y sacrificios. Pero todo esto a la larga sera recompensado con la mayor riqueza , que es el sentimiento de haber salvado una vida.
In Ecuador, we have always focused on education but very little on health. For this reason, there are many children with malnutrition and deficiencies. This inspired me even more to study Medicine and specialize in Pediatrics. When I choose this career, I never thought I’d be met with such problems as classmates obsessed with perfection, gender inequality, and most of all, the imposition of men. My advice is that while studying medicine might not be easy, it is a career of endurance and sacrifices. However, this will eventually be rewarded with the greatest wealth, which is the feeling of having saved a life.

¡Felicidades Graduados!

¡Felicidades Graduados! – Congrats Grads!
Last week, 6 Starfish Scholars officially completed one of their goals – they are now high school graduates!! We are so proud of them; They’ve accomplished so much and have so much more to come.  
Graduates Pamela, Cristhian, Eddy & Lili with Co-Founder Jenn
Lili, Pamela & Cristhian are 3 of the inspirations for Starfish.  I first met them when I was a volunteer in 2010-2011 at Casa Don Bosco, a shelter for street kids that at that the time also ran an after-school program for neighborhood kids.  They were all in the equivalent of 8th grade, but already leaders.  Their perseverance in the face of challenges was part of my motivation for wanting to return to Ecuador and help educate more youth.  Eddy joined this group of inseparable friends 3 years ago when he met the others at school and then joined us at Starfish.  Watching all of them grow up over the years has been amazing.  Each one of them continues to inspire me and teach me new things every day.  
Graduates Joel, Pamela, Mirka, Lili, Cristhian & Eddy at our year-end celebration!
Now Lili is working as a seamstress and with hopes of completing a year of volunteer work in a different part of Ecuador through Casa Don Bosco.  Eddy dreams of studying communications and becoming a TV presenter.  Cristhian dreams of becoming a pilot, and Pamela a flight attendant.  Although they have graduated, Starfish continues to support all of them as they find out all of the options to achieve their dreams! Mirka is the last addition to the Flor de Bastión group of graduates.  Joining us just this past year, she quickly left a grand impression on all of us.  Her maturity is way beyond her years and for this reason our employees chose her to give the welcoming speech and reflection this year as a representation of the whole Flor de Bastión community in our closing ceremony.  Mirka will be continuing her studies this year at the state university where many of our employees study.
Joel and his mom with his acceptance letter to a prestigious college scholarship program!!
Last, but certainly not least, is our lone graduate from Guasmo this year – Joel.  Like some of the others, Joel has been a Starfish Scholar since our first days here in Guayaquil.  He has always shown us 100% effort to do his best in everything that is asked of him, and especially in his studies.  Joel is a natural leader, and a dedicated student.  We always knew Joel was special, and now someone else has recognized him too!  A few months ago we attended a talk about a scholarship open to any student achieving a 9 or higher average in school.  Joel sounded like a good fit and he applied.  After a rigorous application process complete with an interview, tutoring sessions, test and home visit, we found out that Joel was selected for a 100% scholarship!  He will be completing a business degree at the Tecnológico Espíritu Santo along with some of the country’s best and brightest students.  Due to the high costs of the university, this privilege is usually reserved only for the country’s wealthiest.  Thanks to his efforts, Joel now has an excellent opportunity to really break the cycle of poverty in his family and we are so excited to see where this journey will take him in the future!
Flor grads with special gifts from their educadores!!
All of our grads have been invited back to continue to help us as role models and volunteers in the next school year, so we look forward to keeping you updated on their continued accomplishments!!

A Reflection on Senior Year…by Starfish senior Joel

Today, senior Starfish student Joel shares with us a reflection on his last year in high school, and his motivation for the future.  Joel has been with us since the first days of Starfish and we are so proud of all that he has accomplished so far!!

“Hi, I’m Joel.  I’m in my last year of high school.  To be in the last year of high school….it’s gratifying to know that you are about to graduate and meet one of your goals which is to finish high school.  Of course, the last year is not easy because your life is slowly taking an important turn towards responsibility.  One begins to become more independent, but it’s always necessary to listen to others’ advice for something that you don’t understand.  It may be related to your studies, which are important.  Someday, thanks to your academic efforts, you can achieve diplomas or scholarships like what I had, and with these accomplishments, people will respect you as a person.  If everything goes well, in the future they will also respect you as a professional.”

Also important to note, Joel has done an excellent job preparing for his graduation, participating in the equivalent of SAT-prep classes and earning an admirable score on the exam.  As such he is currently exploring 2 options, the public university to which he will automatically gain admittance with his outstanding test score, and a private university scholarship through another local organization which awards scholarships specifically based on merit.  Let’s wish him the best of luck as he continues in the scholarship process!!  ¡Buena suerte Joel!

Spanish language – Joel’s original post:

Hola, soy Joel.  Estoy en 3ro de bachillerato.  Estar en el último de colegio…es muy grato saber que estás a punto de graduarte y cumplir con una de tus metas que es finalizar el colegio.  Claro que el último año no es fácil porque tu vida poco a poco va tomando un giro importante que es el de la responsabilidad.  Uno se comienza a independizar, pero siempre hay que escuchar a los demás, sus consejos, en algo que no entiendes.  Puede ser referente a tus estudios, que son importante.  Algún día gracias a tu esfuerzo académico puedes obtener logros como diplomas o becas como los obtuve yo, y al obtener todos estos logros, las demás personas te van a respetar como persona.  Si todo va bien ya puede que más adelante de te respeten como un profesional.