A Year in Review Part 2

Today in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the weather forecast has a high 82 degrees. So, while those of us in the North East United States are facing below freezing temperatures, and even colder wind, we can cozy up, and think of Ecuador – and all the wonderful, amazing things, the Starfish Foundation has been up to over the second half of the last year.

In last week’s post, we shared our successes, accomplishments, and highlights from January 2017 – June 2017, so this week, we’ll pick up where we left off.

July:

  • We hosted a workshop, to help the students discover potential careers. Students wrote down possible professions they would like to have in the future, and we had professionals from those professions come in and give a presentation and explain their experiences. They also answered any questions and eased doubts that the students had about the profession.
  • We brought the parents from Flor and Guasmo together to discuss the dynamic between parents and children and their behaviors. They did this through performing a play and the winning group was asked to perform at our annual Talent Show.

August:

  • Everyone’s favorite talent show! The students and parents demonstrated their talents in each of the following areas: dance, singing, theater, drawing, magic, and more. It was a night full of emotions in which everyone shined on stage. All the winners of the Talent Show were awarded with a movie night and ice cream!
    – We began a dance club. For their inaugural class, the students met with great enthusiasm to learn break dance techniques.starfish1
  • This month’s tutoring theme was “universal history”, where we touched on different eras from world history. At the end of the month, students formed small groups to present on an era that was interesting to them. Many students also dressed up and made their own props for their presentation. We really have a creative group of students!

September:

  • During September, the school for parents was led by psychologist Edwin. This month’s topic was the influence of music on the behavior of children.
  • As you know by now, students in their second to last year of high school (U.S. equivalent of 11th grade) participate in a community service project at Starfish. One of our first groups of this school year chose to educate their peers and the surrounding community about the mistreatment of women as their project. They began this month with weekend workshops.
  • This month as our tutoring thing we reviewed how to use the different centers that reinforce skills and expand on other topics that we have covered. Our centers include – reading, writing, technology, strategic games, and a rotating center based on the current month’s theme.
    -Students and staff enjoyed one week of vacation between semesters. During that week, only a few staff members worked, while also supervising a “minga” or work day to clean up our facilities!

October:

  • Giving back to others and the community is at the heart of everything we do at Starfish. Scholars, educators, and volunteers from our community service club worked together to collect funds to help out, the garbage collectors of the Puerto Limpio corporation, some of the hardest working individuals in the city. We went through the streets of Mapasingue and the Las Monjas avenue to hand out snacks that we prepared with much affection for them.
  • Students took an educational field trip to the Municipal Museum to learn more about the history of our ancestors and about Ecuadorian culture.
  • mischief 5We held our annual Olimpiadas which ends with an exciting soccer tournament!
  • The weekend before Halloween, we hosted the 2nd Annual Starfish Search Scavenger hunt, where participants from 3 countries competed to complete fun, wacky tasks and raise awareness for Starfish.
  • This month, ICD Jenn took some time to teach one of the tutoring groups one of her favorite subjects – reading! The “Tarde 1” group got to read James & The Giant Peach, and participate in fun strategic and book club type activities throughout the month. The educators continued to reinforce basic math skills in the other groups, while observing the reading group to learn new strategies to implement in the future!

November:

  • We went on our annual field trip for students who received good grades in school during the first semester to reward their academic efforts. Our field trip was to the Ayangue beach, a very beautiful and quiet place that students were able to enjoy.
  • A month of service: MINI SAC completed its project “Paws up in the Air” for a local animal rescue organization. They volunteered at a fundraising event by helping to decorate and distribute food to the guests. Additionally, the Double R Group planned a Christmas party for the children with low resources that live in Mount Sinai.
  • Two more tutoring groups got to enjoy James & the Giant Peach during tutoring this month, while the other groups are working on improving writing skills. Students are responding well to the new strategies that our educators are implementing!

December

  • A month of celebrations and friendships! First our staff and students hosted a Christmas party for their younger siblings. It was set up like a fair with a bunch of different stands that had different activities for everyone to try (games, dance, a photo book, face painting, etc.). At the end of the day, each child went home with a toy donated by local university students!
  • Our Therapeutic Group worked with the theme “values and strengthening o friendship” – bringing the Starfish Foundation members together with students from the Immaculate Conception and  Sisters of Providence youth groups, as well as alumni from the Juan Martin Moye School. The completed in friendly games and sports matches, and ended with a lunch of  arroz con pollo al horno (baked chicken and rice) and salad. It was prepared by a volunteer group of mothers.
  • On December 22nd, our staff had a special dinner out together at a nice local restaurant. They really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together in a more formal setting, and share in the joy of the Christmas season.

Thanks for looking back on a great year with us. We can’t wait to see what the new year brings. We hope everyone has a safe, happy, healthy, and blessed 2018!

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A Day in the Life of a Scholar

Guest Writer: Maddy Okkerse

jordy loor.jpeg

“Within five years, I see myself studying one of these careers because I want to be a professional in order to be able to help my parents, but above all to give myself the lesson that what one resolves to do may be accomplished when you work hard to achieve it. “ -Jordy Loor

One-Hundred-Forty Students. One-Hundred-Forty Dreams.

The Starfish Foundation inspires scholars like Jordy to go above and beyond their social norm and to reach for the stars. Giving these students a place to study is only one part of the day as a Starfish student.

On their first day, April 24th, students arrived at the foundation wearing the shoes and uniforms provided by the foundation and attended classes. But these are not just your average students;these students are here because they want to be here. Many children in Ecuador of the same age have become involved with tobacco, drugs, or alcohol, but the Starfish scholars have healthy habits and long term goals. These students also attended workshops during the day providing crucial lessons – such as learning about HIV from a Peace Corps volunteers, Bonnie.

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Along with workshops, getting to know the other scholars, and reviewing materials from last year, students also were able to attend some of the several clubs offered by the foundation, such as soccer, crafts, computer, dance, and music clubs.

“Here I have met many new friends. 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 everyday I learn more.” – Maria Belen

Emulated by the staff, these students are also instilled with a love for service early on. From helping paint the classroom walls, to the SAC community service project, many students help to serve their community in someway. For this reason, many of the scholars are not only achieving academic success, but they also develop incredible character.

So a day in the life of a scholar is more than above average; from learning, to service, to dreaming, the success of a scholar never stops.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook to see what we’re up to on a daily basis.

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 www.thestarfishchange.org/volunteerintern.

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.

Ponce_Emerson_carnet_2017
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.

Starfish Spotlight: Josué and Dennis

There’s no better way to learn about Starfish than to sit down with a few of our scholars and ask them about their lives. This week, we caught up with Josué and Dennis.

We asked them about their goals, plans for the future, and role models. For both, going to college is high on the list of priorities. The question of whether or not they plan to continue their education is met with “of COURSE I’m going to go to university!”

To obtain this goal, both students realize the importance of hard work now, “One of my first goals is to finish high school while being an excellent student and getting good grades. This would help me to have a good foundation for when I take the university acceptance exam,” explains Josué. He hopes to get a career in technology – something like systems or computer engineering or programming. “It’s something I’m passionate about”, he says. Then adds, “and it is a career that you can get a lot of work in many countries.”

Dennis hopes to one day provide support for his parents, and although he doesn’t mention his exact plans for the future, he echoes Josué’s enjoyment of computer programming .

As for role models, both reference their parents. “They have helped me so much,” explains Josué simply. “My parents are my inspiration,” says Dennis,
“I admire my mom and my dad greatly because they sacrifice a lot so that I can have many things, such as food, an education, and a place to live.” He thanks both his parents for the help they give him with school and homework, as well as working very hard “so that the whole family can be happy.”

Although the future is never predictable, one thing is clear: both these young men have bright futures ahead of them, and we know they’ll make their families very proud.

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!

2017 So Far

Wow everyone, I can’t believe it’s already April! Now that we’re three months through 2017, I think it’s time to take a look back at what we’ve accomplished so far!

January:

  • In January, our volunteer Ellie continued with the English classes with both the students and educators. Also, the students were able to hold a party for Three King’s Day, on January 6th. The party involved playing and having a grab bag for each student. Next, there was a meeting held on January 15th, in which scholarship recipients completed activities related to the leadership school. The students had a great time and enjoyed it a lot!

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  • We have also continued our tutoring classes! This month the classes were focused on nouns, sentences, comma usage and other grammar points.
  • Finally, we held a Community Service Workshop. Overall, January was a great month for the Starfish Foundation!

February:

  • In February, our volunteer Ellie completed the English classes with the students and educators. Great job, Ellie!
  • Students presented their final projects at Starfish, where they were able to demonstrate the skills they learned at our new and improved classes these past 5 months. Their project was called “Around the World,” and each group was to pick a country they had never researched previously. Then, they were to research, make a PowerPoint and present to the class, while including a creative piece such as traditional dress, traditional food, etc.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.58.11 AM
  • The high school students also carried out three projects with the community in February, which they’ve planned throughout the year. Stay on the lookout for our upcoming blog posts to get an update on their projects!
  • This month, our tutoring classes were held in conjunctions, upper and lowercase letters and public communication.
  • Finally, the Leadership School held their second workshop this month, where the topic was how to be a good leader. Activities were created for students to find out their flaws, virtues, interests and values and then how these attributes make them a good leader.

March:

  • This month was the end of the school year for students!
  • In March, we received over 100 scholarship applications and are excited to welcome 54 full scholarship recipients and 16 conditional scholarship recipients!
  • We also held our year end ceremonies in March. In Guasmo, the ceremony was on March 12th and in Flor de Bastion, the ceremony was held on March 17th! For the students with the best grades, we went on a field trip to Bucay at the end of the month.
  • Coming up, we have a new summer reading initiative! Starfish students are expected to read daily, complete a reading log and attend weekly sessions for 1 month to discuss what they’re reading, with our educators.

These past three months were absolutely great and we can’t wait to see what the next three have in store!

Until next time,
Henry

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