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. 

Hugs!
Henry

 

¿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

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Notes from a Scholar: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Over the past week, I took a wonderful trip down to Ecuador to visit one of our awesome Starfish students, Mayerli Bravo. We discussed her future, goals, family and faith. Let’s take a look at what Mayerli had to say about where she sees herself in five years:

myerli“In five years, I imagine myself finishing high school, graduating with my friends and school fellows, celebrating with my family that important moment of my life, as they have been an essential pillar for the achievement of my goals.

Furthermore, I imagine myself focusing on a college degree, maybe acquiring some knowledge in a specialization, and afterward focusing and projecting myself on it.

Because my family has been very supportive, I would like to become a specialized professional so that I can help them and reward them all the hard work and effort that they have devoted to me and my studies. Certainly, they can feel very happy and proud of me

I would like to be able to study veterinary medicine or become a stewardess.

I know that with God´s guide and the moral, emotional and physical support from my parents, I will be able to meet my goals.”

Thanks again, Mayerli, for an awesome conversation! I just know that with your passion, motivation and family support, you’ll be able to do anything you set your mind to!

Until next time,
Henry

Original interview:

Me imagino dentro de cinco años terminando el colegio, graduandome con mis amigos y compañeros, festejando con mi familia ese gran momento de mi vida, ya que han sido un pilar fundamental para el cumplimiento de mis metas.

Ademas me imagino enfocandome en una carrera universitaria, quizas adquiriendo un poco de conocimiento en una especialidad para luego enfocarme o proyectarme en una de ellas.

Gracias a que mi familia ha sido un gran apoyo, me gustaria ser una profesional en alguna especializacion, para asi poder ayudarlos y recompensar todo el arduo trabajo y el gran esfuerzo que han dedicado en mi y en mis estudios, y desde luego puedan sentirse muy contentos y orgullosos de mi.

Quisiera poder estudiar veterinaria o llegar a ser una azafata.
Se que con la Guia de Dios y el apoyo moral, emocional y fisico de mis padres podre cumplir con mis objetivos.

Happy 5th Birthday Starfish!

Earlier this week, the Starfish Foundation celebrated it’s 5th birthday! That’s five years of providing scholarship, tutoring, and leadership development to youth living in extreme poverty in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Over that time frame, Starfish has grown and grown – and currently serves over 120 scholars in Guasmo and Flor de Bastion.

Jenn and beth.jpgThe idea for the Starfish Foundation developed after co-founders Beth and Jenn volunteered for a year in Ecuador, where they volunteered at a shelter for former street kids. A lot of these kids had no family or little support at home. Though many of them had the motivation to study, they lacked financial resources to be able to attend school once leaving the shelter.

Though public schools in Ecuador are free, families often still struggle to provide all the necessary materials (uniforms, books, school supplies, etc) while living on minimum wage and trying to feed a whole family. For many, the easiest solution was to not go to school. The Starfish Foundation works to fill a need that focuses on the importance of education as a catalyst for future success of each student and their communities, and provides scholarships and mentoring to students in financial need who have the motivation to continue their studies despite challenging circumstances.

But the success comes not just from funding scholars, but also seeing bright, caring, thoughtful individuals find the means to achieve their goals. It’s about seeing faces light up with smiles. It’s about promoting confidence through talent shows and interviews. It’s about creating a sense of community through outreach. It’s about improving our environment by encouraging sustainable living and recycling. It’s about service and instilling the values of hard work and giving back to the community in our scholars. It’s about big dreams, and big plans, and big ideas.

It’s about giving every scholar the boost they need to be the best version of themselves.

Over the last 5 years, there have been a lot of incredible moments for Starfish. Some highlights for Beth include:

  • On the trip last year, there was a moment when we got together all the “original” Starfish Scholars. It was kind of like the end of A League of Their Own – very nostalgic to remember back those early days, but impressive to see how these young adults (now) have grown up and are now giving back to Starfish as employees or volunteers!
  • Bringing my parents and best friend (basically my sister, in Spanish they call her my ñaña) to see Starfish. They are SO supportive and it was so special to have them meet our Scholars and their families!
  • The experience of growing our Board this fall. It was really the first time we had done anything quite like this – but the interviews with so many WONDERFUL people were delightful. I have loved getting to know our new members and seeing their positive energy. They have already started to give back in so many extraordinary ways!
  • Our 5th birthday! It was a tiring week, and a challenging time to see our country divided in the election, but in the midst of stress and discord, it was something to celebrate. The amount of people who wished me a happy birthday that day — I wondered if I should double-check my birth certificate 😉

As we look back, we’re so thankful to everyone who has been a part of this journey – we’re thankful for the support, friendship, prayers, and donations. As we look back, we know it is also important to look ahead, and look forward to continuing to grow and serve in the coming years. Some of our goals include:

  • Putting together a robust U.S. Operations team. We’re well on our way to doing so – an amazing set of Managers / Advisers for Development, Communications, and Volunteer Management, efficient Admin team of our Sr. Admin Assistant, Accountant, and Tech Guru, and an amazing team of Social Media interns. We have work to do, though, in creating the best structure to maximize capacity and efficiency – and I’d love to see us get to a great point with that.
  • Officially registering in Ecuador, buying land, and building our dream “house.” It’s the longest, most complicated process EVER, but we are nearing the end, and that’s pretty incredible.
  • Supremely increasing the attendance at our Giving Tuesday and An Evening for the Stars (Baltimore Benefit Dinner) events. We have some SNAZZY new tricks up our sleeve (this year, for example, just your presence at any Giving Tuesday results in a $10 donation to Starfish – thanks to a generous match!)
  • Seeing the amount of people who learn about Starfish continue to increase!

I hope you can agree it’s been an incredible Journey, and yet an even more amazing one awaits us. I also hope you’ll join me in wishing Starfish a very warm and loving HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

starfish-birthday

Starfish Scholar Spotlight: Elizabeth Delgado talks about Ecuador

Hola!

This week, I swam on down to Ecuador to have a conversation with Elizabeth Delgado about her country, what she loves about it, and how she hopes to see it improve in the future.

“Ecuador is a very beautiful country, it has a lot of great places to visit, and its people are very nice and welcoming, always celebrating the best of society.” says Elizabeth.

Ecuador is home to an incredible array of wonders – everything from colonial towns to the Amazon rain forest, and from the spectacular peaks of the Andes to the Galápagos Islands. Whether it’s nature, wildlife, culture, anthropology or language, this diverse country is sure to impress.

“Nevertheless, there are things that I’d like to change”, Elizabeth continues. One of those things is crime.

29259513292_7709b67a4e_z“Regrettably nowadays, in every corner of the country, there is a lot of delinquency, It’s normal to hear about or see assaults every day – in the street, in banks, in stores, or in houses. There are all kinds of crimes and the worst of it is that, pitifully, even the youngest children participate.This makes it so we live with uncertainty and the fear that something bad may happen.

“I wish to change this negative aspect of my country, not only so that society can live in peace without any kind of danger, but also so that those people who are risking losing their lives also have a positive change.”

How would this change be brought about? Well Elizabeth has an answer for that too: “To accomplish this it’s important that we help those people; maybe they’ve let their lives take this course because they don’t count on support, and that is really what they need… (Making a) change really depends on everyone, so that we are able to have a little stability when it comes to our safety.”

Well said, Elizabeth, well said.

 

Original interview:

Ecuador es un País muy hermoso, posee muchos lugares dignos de visitar, su gente es muy amable y hospitalaria, siempre brinda lo mejor de sí, a la sociedad. Sin embargo, existen cosas que me gustaría que cambien, por ejemplo, hay muchos factores negativos que manchan la sociedad en la cual vivimos, pero una de las cosas que me gustaría cambiar es la delincuencia.

Lamentablemente hoy en día, por todos los rincones de este país, hay mucha delincuencia, cada día es normal escuchar o ver asaltos en las calles, en bancos, en tiendas, en viviendas, en fin, existe todo tipo de delincuencia y lo peor de todo es que lastimosamente participan desde los más pequeños hasta los más grandes. Esto hace que vivamos con miedo e incertidumbre de que algo malo ocurra.

Deseo cambiar este aspecto negativo de mi País, no tan solo para que la sociedad viva en paz sin ningún tipo de peligro, sino también, para que estas personas que están echando a perder sus vidas tengan un cambio positivo, para esto es importante que se implementen o den más ayuda a estas personas, que quizás han permitido que sus vidas lleven ese rumbo porque no cuentan con un apoyo, y eso es lo que realmente necesitan.

Por eso creo que el cambio de esto depende de todos nosotros, para así poder tener un poco de estabilidad en cuanto a este aspecto.

Starfish Scholars: Dreams and Goals for the Future

Hello all, Henry here! Thank you to those of you who joined us earlier this month for the #StarfishSearch Scavenger Hunt. I loved seeing all your pictures and videos, and sharing in your day as you completed random acts of kindness and completed fun tasks. You guys sure made me smile! Check back next week for a review – complete with pictures and videos from the hunt!

This week, I also had the chance to connect with some of our Starfish Scholars about their life goals – where they hope to be in a few years, and what would make them feel successful, and now I’m here to share their stories with you.

First I connected with Melissa who wants to go into the medical field when she’s older. She is inspired by the people she met in her life and the struggles they faced:

28744235494_043e01c534_z“When I was ten years old I would see many sick people and many of them died due to some severe illness. This inspired me and I decided I would be a nurse or a doctor in order to cure all of the sick, and in this way find a cure for all of the illnesses and reduce the mortality rate of the country. I want to be a nurse or doctor recognized at the international level, with cures for all types of illnesses including AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

I don’t want to give treatments, but instead provide cures, because it saddens me that people die. I am scared of death. I would not like to die. I eat well and stay healthy in order to not contract any fatal illness. I invite you all to take care of yourselves each day. Life is not a game, it is a gift from God and only He can fix it.”

 

What an amazing goal Melissa! I know with your hard work and dedication to the cause, you’ll go far in changing to bringing good health to those around you.

Next up, I met up with Geovanny. He sees himself as a police commander in five years. Why? “To help my family,” he explains simply. We know he’ll do his part to make the world, and his community, a safer place.

Milena has different plans. In five years she hopes to be a flight attendant:

29333944396_54718b7431_z

“I imagine myself in 5 years finishing school, graduating with all my classmates, my parents would be happy, going to university, picking a profession that allows me to be a flight attendant, this will help us see how God’s timing is perfect.”

 

 

 

My last stop on this trip was with Detsy. She has a love for children and hopes to serve them through the field of pediatrics:

29259512842_b4bed2d51f_m.jpg

When I grow up I would like to be a professional in the area of pediatrics. Since I was little I have always liked children; I always considered that they are the ones that need care and attention, and because of that I would like to be a great doctor.

I know that to be able to accomplish my goals I should focus on my studies. Right now I’m still in high school and have a few years left before I can graduate. For now I will dedicate myself fully to my studies so that I don’t have obstacles and I can achieve the goals that I’ve set.

I know that a pediatric degree requires a lot of dedication, because it’s a degree that demands a lot of time and effort, but with the help of my parents, professors and my own commitment, I will be able to become a great pediatrician.

I just love young people with BIG goals, BIG dreams, and BIG plans, and I know with commitment to education, hard work, and the support of the people around you, anyone can do BIG things. The four students, along with the rest of the Starfish Scholars will go on to do great things.

What greatness do you hope to accomplish in life? I’d love to hear from you!

All my best,
Henry

Starfish Scholar Spotlight: Ysis Matias

Hello, Henry here! I recently checked in with Ysis Matias, one of the Starfish Scholars, to get a feel for what an average day is like. We talked about her goals, her role models, and life in Ecuador. I can’t thank her enough for taking the time to share her thoughts with us, so without further ado, I’m passing this over to Ysis.
-Henry

Hello, my name is Ysis. I imagine myself being in another country within 7 years. My favorite subject is English because I think it’s very important to learn since it’s universal and it will help me a lot in life. I’d like to be an orthodontist because that profession really calls my attention, or I’d like to keep learning languages because I really like learning other languages.

The person that’s helped me realize my academic strengths is my mom. She always supports me in all my big ideas for what I’d like to do.

At 7am I get to school, I hang out for 20 minutes with my friends and classmates and then leave school at 1:45 to eat lunch. After I go to Starfish and do my homework and then head home. I have to think about what I value more when I get home, when I see my parents working hard to give me everything they really motivate me. I’m proud of them and of my country and its great president who’s made our country known to a lot of the world.

The thing I’d like to change would be how society thinks, to get everyone talk and see the realities of society and what really is happening, then we can find a solution if we only look together.

Wow, what an amazing young lady! I’ll share stories from more students throughout the Fall, so stay tuned to get an inside look at what our Starfish Scholars are thinking, dreaming about, and getting excited about. I can’t wait to share their stories with you.

Until next time!
Henry

¡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.

Spotlight on Betsabeth’s Nursing Career!

Hi, I’m Betsabeth.  I was a scholarship recipient and now I’m one of the workers.  Thanks to God and my mom’s hard work along with my own, I was able to reach my goal of graduating and with the support from Starfish, I was able to realize my dream.

Now that I’m done with high school, I signed up for college and I am studying medicine so that I can be a licensed nurse.  I am learning a lot.  I learn all the different kinds of diseases and illnesses and they’ve taught me to take pulses, breathing, blood pressure and the pupillary reflex.  Now we are doing a internship with elderly people.  We are helping them to control their blood pressure on a daily basis, and at the same time I am doing an internship at a morgue where I am learning to do autopsies and analyze the body and all of its organisms, and the brain and how much skin we really have as human beings.

After all of the internships and practicals, at our final class we are given a test where we have to explain what we learned.  I really like my major because it’s helping me get over my fears and at the same time preparing me to be a great professional.

Here I’ll put a photo to show you what I am learning. Thank you!

Hola, Soy Betsabeth.  Fui becada en Estrellitas del Mar, ahora soy trabajadora.  Gracias a Dios y al esfuerzo de mi mamá y mío, logre llegar a mi meta que era graduarme y gracias al apoyo que me dio Starfish Foundation, pude cumplir mi sueño.

Ahora que salí del colegio, me inscribí en la universidad y estoy estudiando la carrera de medicina para llegar hacer licenciada de enfermería.  Estoy aprendiendo mucho.  Me enseña a conocer todas clases de enfermedades de las personas y me enseñaron a tomar el pulso, la respiración, la presión arterial y el reflejo pupilar y ahora mismo estamos haciendo practica con las personas adultos mayores.  Le estamos controlando su presión diariamente y a su vez estoy haciendo practica en un morgue donde estoy aprendiendo hacer la autopsia y analizar en el cadáver todos sus organismos y el cerebro y cuantas piel tenemos en realidad el ser humano.

Después de todas las practicas que tenemos en cada clases al finalizar de la clase nos toma un examen por lo cual nosotros tenemos explicar lo que aprendimos y me gusta mucho mi carrera porque me esta ayudando a superar mis miedos y a su vez a prepararme en mi carrera para ser una buena licenciada.

Aquí les pongo una fotito para enseñarles lo que estoy aprendiendo. ¡Gracias!

A day in the life of a Starfish Volunteer

A day in the life: Thursday 23rd October 2014

5.15am
I shuffle around in bed trying to silence my alarm clock before it wakes the rest of the house. Get up, get washed and dressed, bread and honey for breakfast and some strong, sweet coffee to wake me up. I eat with Nancy, a fellow volunteer, and our host mother, Filadelphia. Charge our volunteer phones. Out the door.

6.15am
“It’s chilly today,” we say to each other. It’s 24ºC/75ºF. The bus pulls up, Nancy and I give the driver 25 cents each and hang on for dear life. People going to work, children going to school.

6.50am
We pull in to the bus station and hurry across the platform to the next Metrovía. Only three stops on the express service, packed like sardines in a tin can. We disembark when the exotic Iglesia Victoria gardens slide into view.

7.10am
We cross the street and the number 49 arrives after a couple of minutes. 25 cents to the bus driver, take a seat on the empty bus. We navigate the busy city centre, the bus filling up rapidly as we take turn after turn. Men selling coconut water, boiled sweets and apples get on and off again.

7.30am
The bus reaches the motorway, the breeze whips through our hair, huge green hills and the dusty air lays a soft coffee-coloured haze over everything we see. Newly built roads and bridges and parks, with a message from the Mayor: “esto es tuyo – cuídalo”. This is yours – take care of it.

7.50am
We hop off the bus and catch an auto rickshaw hasta bloque 15 por favor. It’s 31°C/88ºF. Up the dirt road, down the hill, across the rope bridge over the sludgy stream, two houses up and three to the left. No street signs in Flor de Bastión.

8.10am
At the Foundation building, we greet the educadores with a kiss on the cheek and take a seat. Just two of us this week; the other volunteer is giving guitar lessons to the local children in the suburb where we all live. I help Joselyn with her algebra homework, and as usual Mirka has a thousand and one intelligent questions about yesterday’s English lesson at school.

9.30am
I teach this week’s English lesson at the Foundation using World Food Day as our theme. The kids pore over images of exotic dishes from around the world. Does tagine come from Morocco or Egypt? And what ingredients go into a bowl of ramen?

10am
The kids go home to get ready for school. We are taken in by the Rodriguez family, close friends of Starfish who volunteer to look after us until the afternoon, solely out of the kindness of their hearts. The entire house is the size of my parents’ living room. We talk to Señora Leonela about her sewing business, look through family photos and play with little Ashley and Emily. The sun shines through the newspaper glued over the wooden slats that form the walls. The mango tree outside is beginning to bear fruit.

12.30pm
Lunch is a steaming bowl of soup, followed by marinated chicken on a bed of rice. Mugs of freshly squeezed orange juice sit on the table. I know they are pulling out all the stops for us. As we eat, Kiara and Michelle arrive home from school, where they have been since 7am that morning. We’ll see them again at the Foundation in the afternoon.

2.30pm
We say muchísimas gracias and chao, and return to the Foundation. It’s one large room with a dirt playing field outside. Inside, the walls are covered in photos of community service days, visits from American board members, the kids with their families, the kids working with volunteers, the kids playing pelota. One wall is covered in colourful handprints, our way of christening this beautiful new space.

3pm
The students who had school in the morning arrive for the Foundation’s afternoon refuerzo session. This cohort is older and has a larger percentage of becados – pupils who receive academic scholarships from Starfish in return for consistently high grades, regular attendance at the Foundation’s monthly meetings and good behaviour. Cristhian greets me in English and Pamela asks me about my life in London; as usual they are impeccably presented, witty, smiling, inquisitive, bursting at the seams with youth and ambition.

4.30pm
The English lesson goes down well, to say the least. We are writing about our favourite foods, and the usual suspects surface: encebollado, arroz con pollo, ceviche. Then we write about the foods we’ve never eaten that we’d like to try, and the list is more varied: American deep-dish pizza, Japanese sushi, Indian curry, Greek salad, Mexican tacos, Italian lasagne. For a second I imagine winning the lottery and taking the entire group to Europe for a food tour.

5.30pm
We’ve overrun by half an hour. The tables have been cleared but Argenis is crouching on the floor, leaning his paper against a chair and asking me about forming the conditional mood in English.  I wish for 25 hours in the day or at least enough time to give all the Starfish scholars the private lessons they deserve.

6pm
Jenn has given us a lift all the way to the bridge but we’re late because we’ve stopped to buy chocolate coconut cake the size of our fists for 30 cents each. On the bus back I daydream about a future in which the Starfish students achieve their dreams of becoming doctors and teachers, of travelling the world, of supporting their families on the journey out of poverty. Today was one more step along that road.

7pm
We race past the softly lit river as dusk begins to fall. Overhead, two huge flags fly proudly in the evening breeze: red, blue and yellow for this diverse and captivating country, and blanco y celeste for our city, beautiful beyond words.

7.30pm
We’re back in Guasmo. I rearrange my English lesson for use the next day, then try and fail miserably not to fall asleep.

9.30pm
Filadelphia wakes me for dinner. It’s seco de pollo and I can’t eat it quickly enough. Must write that recipe down somewhere. We chat to Leo about his day; our other ñaños are working. I write a quick Facebook message to my family and friends, check my emails, brainstorm ideas for next week’s English lesson.

10.30pm
I set my alarm for 7.45am; we’ll be volunteering here in Guasmo tomorrow morning. Buenas noches.

Written by current Starfish Volunteer in Ecuador, Sanchia Rodrigues (below, right)