Guest blogger Maria Belen is a student at our Flor de Bastión location. She is in 9no (8th grade equivalent) and has participated in Starfish for 2 years.

 

Hello, my name is María Belén and I think that I have changed a lot during my time at school in many different ways, like my way of thinking, how I get along with my friends. I’ve also changed because there are already so many things that I now know that I didn’t know before I started high school. But my change has not been alone as a lot of things around me have changed because I have started to go to the foundation since last year.

The foundation is very near to my house. Here I have met many new friends that before I had seen in school but never conversed with, perhaps because of shame. In the foundation we can mingle, create very good friendships and besides that also there we learn a lot with the workshops they give. All of this helps me to change and every day I learn more, which makes me very happy.

This year I was chosen as a conditional fellow, that is if I want to win the scholarship I will have to work hard and have excellent grades. I will also need to keep my notebooks up to date and well decorated.

These are the things in which I have changed.

Wherever you are…best regards!

//

Hola, soy María Belén y pienso que he cambiado mucho durante mi etapa en el colegio en muchas cosas como la forma de pensar y de cómo me llevo con mis amigos y también porque ya se muchas cosas que antes yo no sabía. Pero mi cambio no ha sido solo, también ha cambiado mucho las cosas a mí alrededor ya que desde el año pasado voy a la fundación.

La fundación queda muy cerca de mi casa, allí he conocido muchos nuevos amigos que antes los veía en el colegio pero no conversaba con ellos quizá por la vergüenza. En la fundación nos podemos relacionar, crear amistades muy buenas y aparte que también allí nosotros aprendemos mucho con los talleres que dan, eso también me ayudo a cambiar y cada día yo aprendo más, eso me alegra mucho.

Este año que entre me eligieron como becada condicional, es decir que si quiero ganarme la beca tendré que esforzarme mucho y tener calificaciones excelentes también tener mis cuadernos al día y bien decorados.

Estas cosas son en las que yo he cambiado.

Donde estés… Saludos!

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

Senior Project Final: Informe Adultos Mayores

Hey everyone! I hope you’re enjoying some nice, Spring weather, wherever you are! This week, it’s time to check in with our Senior students and find out about one of their senior projects! Over the weekend, I met with members of the team “Adultos Mayores,” Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.53.17 AMincluding:Joselyn C., Jordy L., Julio P. and Ariana S. Let’s find out what they did during their five week project!

The team members began by telling me that the goal of their project was to visit the elderly home, Damien House, over the course of five Fridays, to bring residents happiness and to show that they are valued. Before attending the home, the team members fundraised by selling jello! The students raised $9, to cover the cost of snacks that they would provide to the residents.

During their first visit on January 20th, they had breakfast with some of the residents. They helped some of them drink their oatmeal drink, as it wScreen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.54.40 AMas challenging for them. After breakfast, they went to the patio, explained their project to the residents and invited them to participate. The residents were very excited and decided to start off with an icebreaker, to get to know each other. Finally, when it was time to go, the students gave the residents bananas as a snack. Then, the residents told the students that they were very excited about their visit!

January 27th was the students next visit. As the students arrived, the residents were waiting on the patio with very excited expressions. The students handed out badgesScreen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.55.17 AM to the residents, they played another icebreaker and then they played dominoes. Since some of the students didn’t know how to play, the residents taught them. Finally, they caught up for the week and then gave the residents an oatmeal beverage as their snack.

The students visited the residents for a third time on February 3rd. They said, “this day, we were surprised with the excitement of the adults, which was greater with each visit!” For the visit, they passed out badges played an icebreaker named “cow tail” and then discussed the residents’ lives from when they were young. The residents gave the students advice and in return, the students gave them sandwiches as a snack!Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.56.29 AM

Their fourth visit to the home was very rainy and the residents were worried that the students weren’t going to show. So, when they arrived, the residents were still in the dining room eating their breakfast. After breakfast, they played another icebreaker, called “the spider web.” Then, the residents taught the students how to weave hammocks and told them that they make handicrafts and sell them to people who visit the home. Finally, the students gave orange juice as a snack and said goodbye.

February 17th was the final visit for the students. They said, “this day we felt a bit sad to think that it would be our last visit with our new friends. We wanted the end of the project to be unique, so we brought picture frames with pictures that we had taken with them.” The students also included a lot of balloons to decorate the home and make the residents happy. The morning was filled with emotions from both the students and the residents. The residents expressed their gratitude toward the students for their visits and let them know that they would miss them every Friday. For their final visit, the students gave the residents an oatmeal drink with bread as their snack.Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.57.09 AM

Looking back at their time with the residents, the students said, “We were able to understand the value of solidarity and love because each time we arrived at the Father Damien House, we were filled with happiness, feeling that our presence was important for them. We understand that each person that we encountered in the home needs us, so that they do not feel alone. The environment in the home makes them feel a deep sense of solitude.”

I am so proud of these students for their accomplishment. Not only did they complete their Senior project, but they formed new bonds that will last a lifetime. Great job Starfish Scholars!

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.

Starfish Scholars: Dreams for the Future

Hi everyone!

Welcome to 2017! I hope you had a wonderful New Year and had a chance to relax with family and friends. During my New Year celebrations, I traveled back to Ecuador to ask a few of the kids something that I’ve been itching to ask, “qué te motiva para sobresalir en tu educación?” or “what motivates you to excel in your education?” I was blessed with some wonderful answers and I’m excited to share them with you! So, let’s find out what motivates some of our students.

Itaty Morocho says that her family and future are what motivate her the most. 26010318620_267954ae85_z

“What motivates me to work hard at school is my family and my future, but first my future because it’s what I want to be, an excellent professional since my studies could help better the lives of my family. When I’m in the workforce I want to change the type of education that exists now, because in some institutions there’s not the education that the youth of today need.

In some institutions they don’t have teacher or adequate classrooms to teach in among other things. Because of this I’d like to change the education system. I’d like to help the youth be less fearful and to be themselves.”

Joselyn Calle now knows that education is essential to her future.

25679369943_6b5f4c5b6a_z“When I was a little girl, education was never very important. But today I have realized that it is essential. Education allows you to reach your goals, a goal goes beyond your purposes, to what you want to be. I realized when I entered high school that studying is a challenge that you have to overcome each day. We have to get ahead, we have to create an objective. It does not matter how difficult this objective is, the most important thing is to achieve it and not stagnate.

Studying doesn’t matter if we don’t put in the effort, the desire, the enthusiasm, this small grain of sand that we need in life to triumph in our studies with SUCCESS.”25680490553_c8fc270e89_z

Milena Zambrano says that her parents are her number one reason for motivation.

“What motivates me is thinking of my parents, because they want the best for me. Now I’ve just started high school but with my strength and dedication to my studies I know I’m going to succeed, I’ll see myself graduating in 5 years.

YOU CAN ALWAYS SUCCEED WHEN YOU TRY! NEVER GIVE UP! KEEP GOING FORWARD!”

I am so proud of Itaty, Joselyn and Milena for their motivation in education! Regardless of the reason, education is very important and I am proud of our students for their hard work! So, readers, what motivates you?

Until next time,
xx Henry

The Season of Love and Joy (Part 1)

In December, without a doubt, the holidays are filled with happiness, love, and excitement. In Ecuador, most families will get together on December 24th (Christmas Eve) and make a traditional dinner of hot chocolate and the traditional “Pan de Pascua”bread.  Families will eat together and enjoy each other’s company until midnight, which is when everyone opens their presents!

In Ecuador, and around the world, the holiday season is a time filled with peace and blessings, but it is also often a time of travel because it is custom to have the entire family together to celebrate Christmas joyfully.

This week, I spoke with one of our staff members, Pamela about her family’s traditions:

In general, my family has a tradition of spending the holidays together because the holidays are usually celebrated mostly by adults. We get to share experiences, and we laugh together. My siblings, cousins and friends come at a specific time so we can drink the hot chocolate and eat Pan de Pascua, which is delicious and the younger kids play with sparklers.

Then, there’s the time when you leave everything you’re doing and gather at the table for dinner. Dinner consists mostly of traditional plates, at least in my house. We make chicken with a Coca Cola sauce, a lettuce salad and a hot chocolate. After eating together, with joy and happiness we exchange presents.

However, some traditions apply to everyone:

In every neighborhood you can see the Christmas lights and decorations and people singing Christmas carols with joy and faith. 

For Pamela, it’s also tradition to remember the reason for the holiday:

We have music and many more activities throughout the night; we celebrate Jesus in our homes.

I hope Pamela and her loved ones have a great December and a blessed Christmas. Next week, I’ll be back to share more holiday practices and traditions from our Starfish Family.

Until then,
Henry

We Asked; They Answered: Favorite School Subjects

Hi all,

Happy December! This week I floated on over to Ecuador to ask some of our scholars “¿Cuál es tu materia favorita y por que?” so they could let us know about their favorite subjects and why.

Joselyn is a huge fan of Language Arts. When I asked why, she said:

“I like it because it teaches us how to express ourselves and not be afraid in to speak in front of others. In my school my Language teacher always asks us to summarize what we understood from the lecture; we also act out legends or real life stories.

This subject is really important for us because we learn to express ourselves and be well spoken when it’s our turn to speak.

Joselyn also talked about the importance of speaking well to provide examples for others. “Nowadays there are many people who use language incorrectly, especially in certain neighborhoods.” When children hear this, they pick up bad habits and start speaking the same way. “So let’s be conscious of that and be part of the change!” she encourages.

Bryan is also partial to Language Arts. “I think it teaches us a lot of things, such as how to express ourselves, how to develop skills like spelling, speaking, and calligraphy.”

Bryan also thinks this subject is important because he hopes to grow up to be like one of his idols, Eugenio Espejo. “Why like Eugenio Espejo? Because he was a great Literature writer, and he could always perform well in every field he practiced because he was a well educated and prominent person.” Bryan also hopes to make his mother proud by meeting each of the goals he sets for himself. Studying literature helps bring him closer to meeting his goals.

eugenioFun Fact: Eugenio Espejo was a writer, lawyer, and medical pioneer from Ecuador. He was Quito’s first journalist and hygienist.
You can read a full bio here in English
Or here in Spanish 

Geovanny’s favorite subject is English. He likes the subject because he finds it interesting and hopes to speak the language fluently some day. Sometimes reaching that goal is hard, and his advice for anyone who is struggling with a subject is “to continue studying, and find something that motivates you. My family motivates me because it is because of them that I am going to graduate, and be able to help them.”

As always, it’s a treat to check in with our scholars. I hope to see you all again next week!

Until then,
Henry

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 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