Reflections on Service – Kiara, Naghelly, and Mierly

Guest Bloggers, Kiara, Naghelly, and Mirely focused on the mistreatment of women for their year-end service project. Here they share their reflection on the experience…

As we completed this project, we personally acquired more knowledge about the mistreatment of women. When we met with adults from the community, and allowed them to express their opinion and talk openly about the subject, they were able to grow in their knowledge as well. Each person we connected with expressed their indignation and disapproval of hitting a woman because women must be respected, valued, cared for, and, above all, loved.service project.png

Currently, we find many women in the world who have been through this type of situation and they have to go to professionals to cope with these problems. The situation is very worrying and that is why many people give talks to prevent it, however, this is a problem that will always exist.

Naturally, these behaviors do not always come to light but remain in the depths of the family. The explosions of aggressiveness also reach children, producing equally serious psychopathological disturbances that dangerously interfere with the balanced development of their personality.

Our project was a little complicated because we had to give talks in shifts and we got nervous about talking to the adults. However, each time, we lost a little bit of our fear, and the adults supported us and gave us ideas we could use to continually improve our presentations.

service project 2

We were able to be successful because we researched the subject thoroughly so we could skillfully manage the workshops.

If we were to repeat the project we would recommend that there would be more group work, and that the presentations would include fun activities so that they can get the attention of the adults taking the class.

We’d like to give thanks to the Starfish Foundation for helping us. We enjoyed talking with the community and it was nice to spend that time educating others.


Starfish Clubs Inspire Learning, Teamwork, Creativity, and Service

At the beginning of this school year, our Starfish staff and volunteers committed to both improving our existing clubs and adding additional recreational, learning, and growing opportunities for our scholars. With less than 2 months left in this school year, we take a look back at how our clubs have grown and improved.

Clubs focused on computer skills, chess, crafts, theater, and dance joined our well-loved soccer club and a new & improved community service club.


In early May, the soccer club and the Arts and Crafts clubs took off with a great start. The Community Service clubs also met to discuss ideas for the upcoming school year. Throughout the first part of the year, they focused on money earning activities to fund their projects – primarily by holding raffles and selling candy or food items. They have worked on projects such as office cleanup, and the “Paws up in the Air” project where they partnered with a local animal rescue to volunteer with fund raising activities.

The soccer club, has always been a favorite, but this year it’s been taken to a new level with improved training and scheduling. There are now 3 groups that each train two times a week. In the Arts and Crafts Club, the students are continually learning different techniques and experimenting with new skills and materials. For example, they once made wallets and change purses out of foam paper.

In June, volunteers helped coordinate a science club where we do hands-on experiments, as well as a theater club that focuses on improvisation – adding two more clubs to the mix. In August, the dance club began – for their first meeting they learned break dancing techniques! The students are always excited to try new

In December, the music club rehearsed Christmas music for a presentation at the Christmas party. The techniques that where learned were vocalization and music notes. In addition, participants also created a music video and uploaded it to social networks.The music workshop ended with a reflection activity.

All our clubs look forward to continuing to meet throughout the remainder of this school year, and continuing to grow and improve in 2018.

The Importance of Education

Guest Blogger: Margaret Mary Telling

Education is a crucial piece of our development as humans. By providing important life skills and knowledge, an education can open a plethora of doorways for a young person! The most pertinent skills are retained at a younger age- ranging from social skills to mathematics. Social skills retained in school can allow individuals to shape and build relationships. While more concrete skills such as mathematics and rhetoric can be applied to the professional world.

Where would people be without an education? Tasks as mundane as purchasing groceries require one. From adding up your total cost to reading nutritional labels- an education is required to make the ‘smart’ choice!

An education can make a lasting impact on a child’s life. When it comes down to it, one can learn to count at home, from a family member. However, the leadership skills and relationships cultivated in a school setting are unmatched! Leadership skills practiced and learned in school often provide students with an advantage over others professionally. According to the Global Partnership for Education, one extra year of schooling can boost an individual’s earnings by 10 percent! Facts aside, the relationships formed in school can last a lifetime!

The benefits of a proper education are truly un-ending. Every man, woman and child deserves the benefit of being provided one. Organizations like the Starfish Foundation strive to provide a safe learning environment for those who seek an education. Many youths who are ‘at-risk’ are provided with a life changing post secondary education. This very education can allow them to create businesses, work hard or even be a leader in their community!

Check out our Annual Report, to see how the Starfish Foundation is bringing a chance of education to youth in Ecuador.

Starfish Spotlight: Jeison and Cecilia on hobbies, family, soccer, responsibility, and continually growing.

Whether your a student or a teacher at Starfish, we know every individual has the potential for growth, and we embrace the interests, strengths, and individuality of every one of our Starfish Family.

This week we connected with Jeison, a scholar, and Cecilia, an educator, to get to know them a little better.


Interviewer: Can you each introduce yourselves and tell me a little about you?
Jeison: I am 15 years old and I live in Flor de Bastión. I play a lot of sports.
Cecilia: I am an educator with the Starfish Foundation and my hobbies are definitely eating and sleeping.

Interviewer: With the quality of food and sports coming out of Ecuador, I feel like those are both very important hobbies to have. Can you tell us a little about how you like to spend your spare time?
Cecilia: I dedicate my free time to spending time with my daughter, partaking in many activities, like playing, dancing, singing etc. I also take advantage of it by sharing nice moments with my family (mom and dad), but above all I like to spend time with my husband and daughter, which are the sweetest moments of my life.
Jeison: Like you all know, here we play quite a lot of soccer and that is also my favorite sport. Near my house is a court where I play most days. Also, sometimes I practice at the Foundation where, with my classmates, we play big matches. Besides this, in my free time, I do my homework, and when it’s my time to go to the Foundation I am very happy.

Interviewer: The Foundation sounds like it has had a positive impact on your life. Can you tell me something you’ve learned from your time with Starfish?
Jeison: The most important things that I have learned at the Foundation are to respect others above everything else and to be responsible with my duties.
Interviewer: Very important life skills indeed; you sound wise for your age. Cecilia, I know you’re a teacher, but what have learned from your time with Starfish?
Cecilia: At the Foundation, I have learned different planning methods that allow me to get to know each student on an individual level. Also, I have learned to share experiences and strategies with my other coworkers in order to learn how to best teach the students.

Thanks a ton to Cecilia and Jeison for taking the time to share some of their thoughts and hobbies with us. It’s always a pleasure to get a glimpse into the daily life in Ecuador, and get to know our fellow Starfish friends a little better.

Now is Your Time to Be the Change

If the Starfish Foundation were a child, we would already be in elementary school. These past few years have been a wonderful whirlwind of development, growth, and change, and we are (of course) always looking towards the future.

But it is also worthwhile to reflect on the past in this moment, and recall the story that inspired the name of our foundation. Out of a beach covered with thousands of starfish, when it seems hopeless to save them all from death, a young child chooses to throw them back into the sea. Instead of give up hope after the expanse of the problem, the child continues to save starfish one by one. Her reasoning? It will make a difference for each individual starfish she touches.

Ecuador flag

When you participate in the Sponsor-A-Scholar program with Starfish, you are directly helping a child successfully complete a year of school, but you are indirectly becoming part of a chain reaction that propels entire communities for the better. The Starfish Foundation’s motto of “one student, one star, one by one” reflects this. By a simple sponsorship, you are certainly changing the life of that one child. But even moreseo, many individual efforts like yours come together to make real change. This is why sponsors are essential to Starfish’s operations.

As a sponsor, you also have a chance to be a pen pal with the student that you sponsor. This provides not only a fun way to keep in touch with someone from another culture, but also a chance to learn and grow across countries’ borders. You can hear firsthand about Ecuadorian food and games, a student’s dream to succeed in school, and the work Starfish is doing to empower the students, all in a single correspondence! Being a pen pal is not a required part of being a sponsor, but it is an amazing opportunity that many sponsors take advantage of.

If this resonates with you, we encourage you to reach out to our team and maybe even become a sponsor yourself. There are currently still a few amazing Starfish Scholars who do not have a sponsor for the 2017-2018 school year, including:

  • Lady C – Favorite subject = Science; loves to read and play soccer
  • Alexander L – Favorite subject = Language Arts; loves to play soccer
  • Josue L – Favorite subject = Science; loves to play soccer
  • Joselin L – Favorite subject = Math and Science; loves to listen to music and read
  • Genesis R – Favorite subject = Social Studies; loves to swim and play soccer
  • Melissa R – Favorite subject = Phys. Ed; loves to play soccer

To find out more about how you can sponsor a scholar for the current school year, please visit our website.

An Opportunity to Give Thanks

In the United States, Thanksgiving is often used as a time to reflect on the people, things, and experiences we are most thankful for. This feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the small (and the big) things in life, is universal, and we asked some of our Ecuadorian students, volunteers, and teachers to share what they are thankful for this year:

Tyrone Tumbaco (Educator)
This year has been very intense but with good results like getting my degree registered with SENESCYT. In addition, I have lots of ideas for my future and a lot of positive energy. I hope I am able to meet my goals soon.

Cecilia Orben (Educator)
I am very grateful to all the people who trusted me in different ways.  I am also proud to have done many things that I thought I would not be able to do. In the workplace I am very grateful for self-correcting when I have made mistakes, and for being able to improve because of that.

Del Valle Joselyn (Student)
I am very grateful this year because I am in a new school, I have met new people, and I am making new friends. Also for the birth of my sister, for my personal achievements, and above all I am grateful to God because He has given me another year of life together with the people I love, my family.

Mirely Zacida (Student)
I am very grateful to Starfish because it helps me with my school supplies. I’m also thankful for the educators because when I do not understand some subjects at school, they teach me and that is very helpful.

Josue Plúas (Student)
I am grateful to Starfish since I learn a lot during tutoring, and also through the other activities that Starfish organizes.  The greatest activity so far was the #StarfishSearch. I’m also thankful for the great help with school supplies.

Leonardo Torres (Student)
I am grateful because Starfish has helped me a lot, especially the classes during tutoring that help us learn new things together that also help us in our daily lives. I am grateful to the educators who are very good teachers.

Jordy Loor (Student)
I am grateful to Starfish for helping me in every possible way, as I have gained a great deal of knowledge and have been able to put my knowledge into practice. Thank you so much!!

Diego Barrezueta (Educator)
I am very grateful this year for being able to study gastronomy and for the great recognition that I received in my studies at a national level. Also because I am able to spend time with the people I love the most.

Diana Zambrano (Student)
I am grateful to be a part of Starfish because I have been able to overcome lot of my nervousness. Belonging to this family fills me with lots of joy.

Pamela Rodriguez (Educator)
I am very grateful to all the people who trusted me in different ways.  I am also proud to have done many things that I thought I would not be able to do. In the workplace, I am very grateful to my co-workers for correcting me when I make mistakes so that I can continue to improve.

Viviana Alcivar (Student)
I am thankful for another year with my family, and for being able to go to school so that I can be someone important in life.  I am also thankful for being a part of Starfish, participating in tutoring so that when I go to school I’m already prepared.  

Jessica Parraga (Educator)
I am grateful for the health of my parents and family in general, and for friendships. They are all fundamental pillars that help me to move forward every day. I am grateful for future plans and for the perseverance that God gave me.


El Día de Acción de Gracias
“Es tu oportunidad de agradecer…”

Tyrone Tumbaco
“La verdad este año ha sido muy intenso pero con buenos resultados como; obtener mi titulo ya registrado en el SENESCYT. Además de muchas ideas de emprendimiento para el futuro propio y mucha proyección positiva. Espero que se cumplan pronto.”

Cecilia Orben
“Bueno, estoy muy agradecida con todas las personas que confiaron en mí en diferentes aspectos, también estoy orgullosa de hacer muchas cosas que pensé que no lograría. En el ámbito laboral estoy muy agradecida por autocorregirse en las cosas que fallo y así poder haber mejorado.”

Del Valle Joselyn
“Estoy muy agradecida este año porque estoy en un nuevo colegio, he conocido nuevas personas, haciendo nuevos amigos. También por el nacimiento de mi hermana, por los logros que he tenido personalmente y sobre todo estoy agradecida a Dios porque me ha dado un año más de vida y me tiene junto a las personas que quiero, mi familia.”

Mirely Zacida
Estoy muy agradecido con la fundación porque me ayuda con los materiales del colegio, además también con los educadores; porque al momento que no entiendo en el colegio algunos temas, ellos me enseñan y eso es muy bueno.

Josue Pluas
Yo estoy agradecido con la fundación ya que recibo muchos conocimientos como han sido los talleres, y también por otra parte las actividades que se han realizado y lo más genial hasta ahora fue la búsqueda de la estrella de mar StarfishSearch. También por la gran ayuda con los materiales de estudio.

Leonardo Torres
Bueno, estoy agradecido porque la fundación me ha ayudado mucho porque realizan talleres que nos sirven para lograr un aprendizaje mutuo que incluso nos sirve en nuestro diario vivir. Estoy agradecido con los educadores que son muy buenos maestros.

Jordy Loor
Estoy agradecido con la fundación por haberme ayudado de todas las formas posibles, ya que he obtenido un gran conocimiento y los he puesto en práctica. Muchas Gracias!!

Diego Barrezueta
Estoy muy agradecido este año por que estudio gastronomía y por el logro tan grande en mis estudios que fue a nivel nacional. Tambien por que puedo estar con las personas que mas quiero.

Diana Zambrano
Estoy agradecida por estar en la fundación porque he superado mis nervios en muy buena parte. Pertenecer a esta familia me llena mucho de alegria.

Pamela Rodriguez
Bueno estoy agradecida con todas las personas que confiaron en mi en diferentes aspectos, también estoy orgullosa de hacer muchas cosas que pensé que no lograría. En el ámbito laboral estoy muy agradecida con mis compañeros por corregirme en las cosas que fallo y así poder mejorar.

Viviana Alcivar
Por estar un año más con mi famila y por estudiar en un colegio ya que asi despues yo puedo ser alguien en la vida. Por estar aquí en la fundación recibiendo talleres para cuando esté en el colegio ya estar preparada.

Jessica Parraga
Estoy agradecida por la salud de mis Padres y familia en general , amistades, todos son parte de un pilar fundamental que me ayuda a seguir adelante cada dia. Estoy agradecida por los Planes a futuro y por la constancia que Dios me dio.

We thank everyone who shared their thoughts with us. We’d love if you’d leave us a comment telling us what you’re most thankful for. And if you’re in the mood for sharing your blessings this holiday season, consider joining us for one of our Giving Tuesday events.

Scholar Spotlight: Oscar Vargas

Vargas_Oscar_uniforme_2017_previewMy name is Oscar Vargas and I am a scholar at the Starfish Foundation. I spend a lot of my time here and it is one of the things that I like to do the most. Nevertheless, I spend my free time listening to music or, if not, my friend Dervis invites me to play soccer with another group of friends from our community. But before this I always finish my homework, because if not, I can’t go out.

One of my hobbies is playing indoor soccer with my friends and I also really like drawing.

The most important thing that I have learned at the foundation is that it has helped me to develop myself more. That is to say that I am no longer so shy and I can talk with people without embarrassing myself. Another fundamental thing is that during my time at the Foundation, I have learned how to lead a group; we talk a lot about this at the Foundation.

Interested in meeting and working with students like Oscar?

Are you inspired to make a significant impact on the education of today’s youth? The Starfish Foundation now has a year-long volunteer program, “Constelacion de Eduacadores Activos” or CEA

Interested? Here’s the Basics:

Who: College graduates & young adults ages 21 and older

What: Volunteering to work with our staff and high school students in Guayaquil,
Ecuador at The Starfish Foundation. We have 3 positions available: Curriculum & Instruction Manager, ESL Teacher & Program Development Manager. Some tasks/duties will include:

  • Daily mentoring of staff members
  • Leading professional development
  • Teaching classes to students
  • Goal-setting and measuring
  • Community engagement
  • Contributing innovative ideas and techniques to curriculum and pedagogy

When: August 2018-August 2019

Where: Guayaquil, Ecuador – Starfish volunteers live with a host family in the neighborhood where we work, Flor de Bastión. Accommodations are basic, but comfortable.

Why: To enhance the education and lives of impoverished Ecuadorian families and students who lack access to a strong educational system (and are therefore stuck in the cycle of poverty), by mentoring staff, teaching students and improving the overall educational offerings at Starfish.

​We’re Looking For You:

The ideal candidate for teaching positions will hold a Bachelor’s degree in Education or in a mastery subject with a teaching certificate.

The ideal candidate for program development position will hold a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies, International Development, Nonprofit Management or a related field.

The ideal candidate for any position will:

  • Know at least conversational Spanish, with a preference given to those who are proficient/fluent in Spanish.
  • Have a passion for working in a cross-cultural setting.
  • Be committed to educating both adults and children.
  • Take initiative and demonstrate leadership qualities.
  • Exhibit creativity and bring a positive energy and enthusiasm to the Foundation

To learn more about how to apply, the financial commitment, and the ideal candidate, visit

Ready to go? Apply today!


Una entrevista con Oscar

Yo me llamo Oscar Vargas, y soy un becado de la fundación, paso mucho de mi tempo aquí y es de las cosas que más me gusta hacer. Sim embargo, en mi tiempo libre la paso escuchando música o si no mi amigo Dervis me invita a jugar pelota con otro grupo de amigos de mi comunidad. Pero antes de esto siempre termino mis deberes porque si no, no puedo salir.

Uno de mis hobbies es Jugar “indor” con mis amigos y también me gusta mucho dibujar.

La cosa más importante que he aprendido en la fundación poder ser que me ha ayudado a desenvolverme más, es decir, a ya no ser tan timido y a hablar con las personas sin que me de vergüenza… otra cosa fundamental es que durante mi proceso en la fundación he aprendido a como liderar un grupo, de eso se habla mucho en la fundación.





#StarfishSearch Winners (and other highlights)

This past weekend, 9 teams competed in the 2nd Annual #StarfishSearch Scavenger Hunt. The 35 participants represented 3 countries and 7 states.

Participants had 72 hours to complete 53 tasks – some focused on community service, some on creativity, some on exploring Ecuadorian culture, some on raising awareness for Starfish, and some that were just silly.

Although these pictures / videos didn’t win, here are some of our favorite moments from the search:

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When asked what their favorite item was was, participants said:

  • “The one we had the most fun with was riding on the handle bars of the bike singing the bicycle song!!” – Julia G
  • ” I can’t choose one! I had so much fun!” – Jenn Z.
  • “I loved making colada morada” – Anna J

The Winners:

The information you’ve all been waiting for – who won the search?

First Place: Mischief Management

– Kim Pulsford (Captain)
– Jenn Z
– Joe G
– Julia G
– Pete L
Mischief Management had team members in Ecuador and the United States and they completed all but 7 of the 53 tasks. They ended the hunt with 1,654 points. They continually impressed us with their submissions and creativity. The unanimous favorite item from their submissions was their nature art of Juan José Flores, also known as The First President of the Republic.

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2nd place: Los Que Come Cuando Hay

– Josue P (Captain)
– Arelisa R
– Diego B
– Genesis R
– Geovanna Sandy G

Los Que Come Cuando Hay was a team based entirely in Ecuador. They finished the scavenger hunt with 1,441 points. They were the only team to get the Starfish Foundation mentioned on the radio, the only team to write in chalk on a pack animal, and one of only two teams to draw a starfish on a bald human head. We were most impressed by them getting on the radio, and the judges favorite item was their handstand at the border.

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Another team comprised entirely of Ecuadorians, Constelacion alfa y omega also ended the search with over 1,000 points. They really impressed us with their submission for item #15 – Create an image of a famous Ecuadorian from history using only objects found in nature. Caption the photo (when uploaded) with the person’s name and why you chose them. We choose this as our favorite photo because of the attention to detail and the realism in the face.

Best Photo - Constelation #15
Eugenio Espejo, Fue un prominente investigador, científico, médico, historiador, escritor, abogado, periodista, pensador, quiteño ideólogo, político y prócer de la independencia de Ecuador. [Eugenio Mirror, was a prominent researcher, scientist, physician, historian, writer, lawyer, journalist, thinker, ideologist, politician, and a hero of Ecuador’s independence.]

Favorite Video: Seas the Day

Seas the Day was our only two person team, and impressed us by earning over 1,000 points despite having the fewest number of participants. They had one member from the United States, and one from England (our first European participant!). They had a lot of wonderful submissions, but we were most impressed by their stop motion video for #22 (Tell the Starfish story in a stop motion video). It was clear that a lot of time and effort went into creating this item, and it deserves recognition.

best video - seas the day #22.png

Thanks for Making us Laugh: Goin’ Starfishin’

Goin’ Starfishin’ was a three person team from Maryland. This team had a lot of fun throughout the hunt and it clearly showed. As judges, we went through the submissions many times, and every time we went past this item we stopped to admire it – not only was it visually appealing in terms of composition and lighting, but it also always brought a smile to our faces. They captured the expressions of the arm-wrestling competitors perfectly, and we thank them for making us laugh with their submission for item #31.

Made us Laugh - Goin Starfishin #31

Thank you to everyone who participated! You were all amazing, and we loved all your submissions!

We hope you’ll join us again next year. If you missed this year’s hunt, but want to make sure you’re on a team next year, email and we’ll make sure you get a personal invitation to join next year’s search.


Two New Scholars Share Their Story

This past year, the Starfish Foundation served 150 students from 110 families offering supplemental learning sessions, tutoring, leadership development, and professional development, while encouraging healthy choices and community service.

Here is some insight from two of our newer scholars:

Cristhian Vega
Cristhian Vega

Starfish: Hey guys how are you? Can you introduce yourselves to the blog?
Emerson: Hello, my name is Emerson Ponce. This is my first year with the Starfish Foundation
Cristhian: My name is Cristhian Vega. I live in Flor de Bastión in Guayaquil. I’ve been attending Starfish since the beginning of the year.

Starfish: Welcome to both of you. How did you hear about Starfish and decide to apply?
Cristhian: Some of my friends around my house talked to me about this and that it helps a lot with school work.

Starfish: That’s great. What sort of things do you work on and learn at the Foundation?
Cristhian: We do workshops and they help us to complete tasks. I like the Foundation because we also do really cool activities.
Emerson: As Cristhian said, the educators give us workshops that help us to learn more. The most interesting thing that I learned, I learned one day at the Foundation when the educations held a workshop on natural sciences. They talked a lot about animals and I liked that a lot.

Emerson Ponce

Starfish: And Cristhian, and what’s the most important or most interesting thing you learned this year?
Cristhian: Something very important that I learned this year is math. I think it will help me in the future.

Starfish: Absolutely. What do you guys enjoy doing when you’re not in school or at Starfish?
Cristhian: In my free times, I love to ride my bike with my friends. We really like to race each other. And now that they fixed the streets a bit, we can ride a bit better. I also play on my dad’s cell phone.
Emerson: I spend a lot of time studying; I like to learn things that I don’t already know and I also have to study for school exams. When I have free like to play soccer on the court near my house – that’s the best way to have fun in my community.

Starfish: Sounds like you guys are smart cookies, and keeping yourselves busy! Thank you for meeting with us to answer a few questions!

Starfish Scholar Spotlight: Jack Neira

This week, we sat down with Jack to talk to him about his education, Starfish, and his hobbies in his free time.

Neira_Jack_2017_preview.jpegHi Jack! Where do you go to school?
Jack: I study at the school known as the Philanthropic, whose full name is the Benemérita Philanthropic Society of Guayas. Yes, it is a rather long name.

What makes your school interesting?
Jack: This school, which is located in Guayaquil, is a technical school. I learn different subjects than students who choose to get a general baccalaureate.

Awesome! And you’re also a Starfish scholar?
Jack: Yes, I belong to the afternoon session at the Starfish Foundation.


What have you learned from your time with the Starfish Foundation?
Jack: At the Starfish Foundation, I have learned many good things. During these last months, the most interesting thing that I learned was: periods of history, in the classes given by the educators. Also, I have learned how to use Microsoft Word, which has been very important because it has helped me to complete my research.

Sounds like you’ve gained a lot from this. When you’re not busy with school and Starfish, what do you enjoy doing?
Jack: In my free time, I really like to read books and other documents. I also like music also and one of my hobbies is playing the guitar. I know that I am not a professional, but I practice a lot in order to play well. In terms of sports, I practice basketball with my friends, but this activity is done just for fun.

We can’t thank Jack enough for spending time sharing his story with us.

Want to support scholars like Jack? $30 provides a month of programming for a Starfish Scholar! Or, you can join our StarfishSearch Scavenger Hunt to help raise funds and awareness for the organization.