The School Year So Far


The school year is now well underway, and our scholars, teachers, and volunteers are keeping busy. Here’s a sample of what they’ve been up to over the last 2 months:

  • Thanks to 2 new volunteers, Mia and Laura, Starfish now has two new clubs! Mia runs a science club where they do experiments, and Laura directs some theater and improvisation groups. Students are very excited about the experiments they are doing at the science club and with the acting club.
  • On June 25th, the teachers, along with the students, celebrated a tribute to the person who is most important in their lives. This was a very special day because the students could enjoy a lovely day with their parents where they played different games – games like inquisitive questions, blind baby food challenge, guess who’s your father, and indoor soccer. “It was a day filled with hugs, emotions and interactions between the students and their parents”, says one participant.
  • The Community Service group held a contest to see who could collect the most bottles to recycle. Not only did this have a huge positive impact on the environment, but also acted as a fundraiser for the group.
  • The therapy group held a “Day of Cinema” as a fundraiser. The proceeds will be used to buy shirts for the group.
  • Throughout the month of June the students were assigned a theme: “How to carry out an academic investigation.” The students worked in pairs to do research about the provinces and capitals, tourist sites, and myths and legends of Ecuador. The last week in June the students presented their research through expositions that each pair created.
  • In Arts and Crafts Club, they made a wallet and change purse out of foamy papers. “The students are continually learning different techniques that they can used and elaborate on with every project”, explains one volunteer.
  • The Leadership School covered the qualities of a good leader and various types of leadership. Through different activities, students identified their leadership style; everyone who participated had a lot of fun
  • Soccer Club continues to be a favorite. It has grown so that there are now 3 separate groups, each of which train twice a week.

Monthly Recap: clubs, service, mother’s day, and lessons in leadership

From camps to goal setting and from community service to soccer club, the Starfish scholars in Ecuador have been keeping busy. What exactly have they been doing?

  • A week long camp hosted by Peace Corp volunteer Bonnie where kids learned about HIV through hands-on games and soccer
  • Those scheduled to do community service this year met to share ideas about how they’d like to get involved and give back
  • The soccer club, a crowd favorite, started meeting again again
  • They held the first ever meeting of the new craft club
  • For Mother’s Day, students went to the homes of some of the mother’s to sing for them. It was a beautiful moment. The moms were completely surprised and very touched. “They could feel the affection that we all have for them”, reflected one participant.
  • The Leadership School is back! Students are back to partaking in a variety of learning opportunities that gives them the fundamentals they need to practice in their own lives and to prepare them for future professional careers.

It is an exciting time at Starfish, and we have even more activities planned for the future. Soon, we will formalize a computer club and dance club, and in August we’ll host our annual talent show.

If you are interested in donating items in-kind specifically for extracurricular success, you can support our teams and clubs, by purchasing an item off our Amazon Wish List.

Leadership School

leadership school 2Last year at the Starfish Foundation we implemented a new project related to the Leadership program, called The Leader’s School, where students learned concepts of how to be a good leader through a set of practice activities.

In the first class participants were able to draw on leadership concepts and see how different types of leadership can be applied in the different facets of life. The conclusion? There is no ideal type of leader. Everyone has different leadership skills and abilities, and the type of leadership required, varies depending on the situation. By the end of the session, almost everyone was eager to share their opinions.

“The Leadership School was excellent, because each one of us participated and we could also share in the group our opinions about how to be a good leader.” – Lucy

In the second class, participants were shown that in order to be a leader they need to know their own interests, weaknesses, and strengths. There was also a discussion about how moral values play a part in determining leadership style and success. To demonstrate this, we held an “Auction of Values”, where students were forced to rank the values ​​in order of importance.

“In my opinion the Leadership School has helped me a lot, because everything I have learned can be used in my daily life, for example, how to be a good leader at school, how to distinguish different types of Leaders and how to lead a group.” – Joselyn del Valle

Cecelia, one of our Starfish educators added, “The Leadership School has been a very enriching experience for the students because they have learned the qualities of a leader and have put them into practice, in addition to learning how certain types of leaders develop. This has allowed them to be more participatory and entrepreneurial in the projects they have carried out.” leadership school 1

As the leadership school continues to meet, we continue to improve the structure of the project – always looking for the best way for students to learn, to have fun, and, above all, to help improve their performance, both now as a student and in the future as professionals.

To help us continue to offer influential programs like the leadership school, support the Starfish Foundation today.

How do you form a leader?

This week, two of our educadores, Maria Salazar and Joel Baque, collaborated to write a blog about leadership. Maria and Joel are both noteworthy leaders in the Flor and Guasmo communities, respectively.  They serve as models of hope and inspiration for the current Starfish scholars, and we are thankful for the reflection they share with us! 

How is a leader formed? 
“A leader includes others, helping them to discover essential skills they can put to use to achieve a common goal.” 

One of the experiences that can form us as a leader occurs during the period of our schooling, during which we acquire knowledge and learn from our challenges and experiences that develop from our interactions with others and group work. During group work, we are able to discover the different abilities that each person possesses. 

The different talents that we possess make us unique and special, and together, we can combine our different talents to help us reach our proposed goal. For this reason, we, the Starfish Foundation, help high school aged students to polish and refine their talents and in some cases, discover them, in such a way that converts them into leaders capable of being guides and examples for the younger students. 

Will you help us to form leaders? Join us, and become a part of our family! 

With love, 
Maria Salazar & Joel Baque 

Maria Salazar 
Joel Baque 

en español:
“El líder incluye a los demás y ayuda a descubrir aptitudes esénciales para llegar a una meta en común.”

Una de las experiencias que podemos tener como un líder, es en la etapa de colegio, en  el cual se adquieren conocimientos en base a retos y vivencias que en grupo se desarrollan, en ella podemos descubrir las diferentes aptitudes que cada persona posee.

Aquellas diferencias son las que nos hacen personas únicas y especiales, que en conjunto y equitativamente alcanzaran el objetivo propuesto; Por eso en la Fundación Estrellitas del Mar, ayudamos a los chicos de colegio a pulir sus aptitudes y en algunos casos a descubrirlas, de tal manera que se conviertan en líderes,  capaces de ser guías y ejemplos para los más pequeños.

¿Nos ayudarías a formar líderes? Se parte de nuestra familia…

Con cariño,
 María & Joel

Professional Development Workshop with Destination Imagination

Thanks to Destination Imagination: Guasmo Sur Project (DIGS), and their leader Sarah for a great set of workshops for our employees this past week.  We learned how to think creatively – and to teach our kids to think creatively as well!  Destination Imagination teaches Teamwork, Problem Solving and Creativity.

Sarah and her volunteer Rosa starting off the workshop!

One of the main goals of  DI is that the kids learn to think creatively, and for themselves, without someone giving them a hint or the answer as is customary in the rote memorization learning system of the public schools in Ecuador.

In DI there are Central Challenges that are worked on throughout the year, while during the workshops we learned how to do Instant Challenges that are either based on presentation or construction.  These challenges generally take around 5 minutes and are a great way to wake up our minds to start a meeting – Here are some pictures from the challenges!

In May, we will be participating in another set of workshops with the volunteers from DIGS and teachers from another scholarship program at Mi Cometa.  We’re excited to continue working together with our community organizations to improve the quality of education in our neighborhoods!

Starfish students participating in one of the activities we learned at DI!

Thanks DIGS & Sarah!!

¡Feliz Navidad!

This past weekend we celebrated Christmas as a Starfish family.  As a way to give back this holiday season, our scholars hosted a party for their younger brothers and sisters so they could enjoy some Christmas cheer.



Money is tight for a lot of Starfish families, and this is especially tough around the holidays.  To help out, our scholars helped raise some money to buy toys for their siblings.  They also prepared a dance, face painting, contests and much more so that everyone could have a great time.


Best of all, our students lived out the true spirit of Christmas – giving of themselves so that their siblings could enjoy a day of Christmas fun!

On Monday & Tuesday the students got to enjoy their own mini Christmas celebration with all of the new friends they made this year at Starfish.  It was a time of reflection, dancing, games and fun for all.

One of the icebreakers: look in this box and tell us what you see
– Hint: it’s the best gift God has given us (you!)

¡Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas!

Learning to Lead at our October Meeting

This month at our October monthly meeting we focused on leadership.  We learned about teamwork, communication, setting goals and working towards those goals in a group setting by completing various activities and reflecting on our experiences.  It was a blast!  See all of these fun activities and more, below!
Setting up for our first icebreaker in Guasmo!
“Dinámica” or IceBreaker where we we had to work together creatively to get everyone’s feet
 on a sheet of paper when the music stopped…each time with less sheets of paper!

It was easy when there were a lot of papers on the ground still,
here our students try to figure out what to do now with less paper.
Group work solving some riddles.  Our students had quite the creative responses!

Lili presenting to the parents what we did during our meeting.

After the becado (scholarship student) meeting, we also had a parent meeting and the parents did some icebreakers as well.  It was great to see the parents uniting and forming new friendships as well.  This year has been a great year of growth for Starfish and we’re excited for the possibilities when students and parents alike unite for the success of their families and Starfish!  While the parents met, our students prepared a delicious, healthy snack and then served it to their parents for an great end to a fantastic day.

Starfish moms Maria and Adelaida participating in our parent activity.

Preparing snack with new Starfish Employee, Karina (pink shirt).

Geovanny helping out with snack in Guasmo.
Flor de Bastión students united after preparing a wonderful snack for the Starfish group!

The perfect end to a perfect day – lots of smiles!

A surprise donation from our students!

Last week some of the Starfish students in Guasmo surprised me in the best way possible.  Last month we did a raffle to help support some of our programming and contribute to the renovation of our space in Flor de Bastión.  Last Wednesday, Starfish Employees Yuliana and Valeria told me that since we hadn’t raised enough money in the raffle, they organized the afternoon “refuerzo” group and asked the students to raise more money by selling candy, crackers or some other similar product at school.  They told the students that they could keep part of the money for their hard work, and make a donation to Starfish with the rest.  Two students decided to participate and over the past month, raised a total of $15.75.  Congratulations Joel & Yesenia!  Thank you for being an inspiration to all of us.  Your selflessness and dedication to the foundation is a great example of what it means to be a Starfish Scholar!

Joel and Yesenia with their hard-earned donation for Starfish!

Gracias Damien House!

Here’s one last post from our students about the experience at Damien House.  With all this excitement about community service and leadership development, we can’t wait to find more ways to get involved!

Sister Annie, Damien House founder, with Starfish students Nery, Sofia, Andreina, Solange and André.

Card for Damien House
by Pamela, Flor de Bastión

Thanks for opening us the doors of your foundation.  The experience was really great.  The people who are part of your foundation are really cool.
The women are very dynamic, happy, full of life, and very friendly.  The men have a strong character, but full of advice for those who need it.
The experience is unforgettable.  You all are beautiful people who deserve so much more love than what you have.
Sister Annie in the women’s section speaking with Starfish students!

Beach bags, a talent of many of the men at Damien House!
“Carta para la Fundación Padre Damien”
por Pamela, Flor de Bastión

Gracias por abrirnos las puertas de su fundación.  La experiencia fue super chevere.  Las personas que integran la fundación son super que chevere.

Las señoras son muy dinámicas, alegres, llenas de vida y muy amables.  Los señores tienen el carácter fuerte pero llenos de consejos para al que lo necesita.

La experiencia es inolvidable.  Son lindas personas que merecen mucho más amor del que ya tienen.

Att. Starfish

Hammock making time!

Joel’s experience at Damien House!

Joel had a great time at Damien House a few weeks ago…find out about his experience through his own words!
Joel, participating in “refuerzo” or tutoring with another Starfish scholar, Betsabeth.
“Hi, I’m Joel.  I’m a scholarship student at The Starfish Foundation.  We visited Damien House, a foundation where there were people with Hansen’s disease.  It was interesting because I didn’t know a lot about this disease.
Jonathan, our tour guide, explaining about Damien House and Hansen’s disease.
I wasn’t used to socializing with elderly people, I thought it was boring, but I was wrong.  They welcomed us, and I met them one by one.  They gave us a tour of the foundation.  After, they told us we could visit whatever part of the foundation that we wanted to.  I went to the men’s section.  They taught me to play dominoes together with some of the other students.  When we went to the women’s section, they gave us the advice that we should keep studying, and not to go down the wrong path.  I really liked it.  I’d like to be able to go back some day.”
The women’s section!

“Hola Soy Joel.  Soy un becado de Starfish Foundation.  Nosotros hicimos una visita a la Fundación Padre Damián, una fundación donde había personas con la enfermedad de Hansen.  Me pareció algo interesante porque conocía poco sobre esta enfermedad.

Yo casi no estaba acostumbrado a socializar mucho con personas de tercera edad, pensaba que era aburrido, pero me equivoqué.  Ellos nos recibieron muy felices, los fui conociendo uno por uno.  Nos dieron un recorrido por toda la fundación.  Después nos dijeron que podríamos ir a visitar a cualquier parte.  Fui a la parte de los abuelitos.  Ellos me enseñaron a jugar dominó junto con otros becados y aprendimos a jugar.  Cuando fuimos a la parte de la abuelitas, ellas nos aconsejaron que sigamos en los estudios, que no nos vamos por el mal camino.  En mi opinión a mí me gustó.  Quisiera que alguna vez se vuelva a repetir.”
Joel (black shirt) with Starfish scholars Danny and Anthony and their new friend!