Life Lessons from Juliana: A Starfish Scholar

Juliana, one of our scholars, agreed to sit down and tell us a little about her self and some of the most important life lessons she’s learned.

Juliana LeonCan you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 16 years old, I’m in Starfish, and I live in flor de bastion.

What do you like to do in your free time?
When I’m not in school I spend most of my time at the foundation, many people say they have two homes, but instead I have three including the foundation which is my third home.

What are some of your hobbies?
My number one hobby is listening to music; I love music! I like to read and chat with friends. I also sleep a lot.n
With my friends I like to laugh a lot, it’s what we do the most when we are together. Sometimes we have scheduled get-togethers, to meet up because we are not in the same school.

What are the most important life lessons?
I’ve learned a few:

  1. No matter how difficult it is to try to accomplish something, you have to try. It is not about whether or not you succeed, but you have to try.
  2. Nothing is impossible and everything can be achieved in this life if you work hard and aren’t afraid to try
  3. Keep going despite every circumstance
  4. In the course of our life we ​​will meet wonderful people; some will leave and new ones will come
  5. In every error, there is a lesson.

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.

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.





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!

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. 



¿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,

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.


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