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

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A Reflection on Senior Year…by Starfish senior Joel

Today, senior Starfish student Joel shares with us a reflection on his last year in high school, and his motivation for the future.  Joel has been with us since the first days of Starfish and we are so proud of all that he has accomplished so far!!

“Hi, I’m Joel.  I’m in my last year of high school.  To be in the last year of high school….it’s gratifying to know that you are about to graduate and meet one of your goals which is to finish high school.  Of course, the last year is not easy because your life is slowly taking an important turn towards responsibility.  One begins to become more independent, but it’s always necessary to listen to others’ advice for something that you don’t understand.  It may be related to your studies, which are important.  Someday, thanks to your academic efforts, you can achieve diplomas or scholarships like what I had, and with these accomplishments, people will respect you as a person.  If everything goes well, in the future they will also respect you as a professional.”

Also important to note, Joel has done an excellent job preparing for his graduation, participating in the equivalent of SAT-prep classes and earning an admirable score on the exam.  As such he is currently exploring 2 options, the public university to which he will automatically gain admittance with his outstanding test score, and a private university scholarship through another local organization which awards scholarships specifically based on merit.  Let’s wish him the best of luck as he continues in the scholarship process!!  ¡Buena suerte Joel!

Spanish language – Joel’s original post:

Hola, soy Joel.  Estoy en 3ro de bachillerato.  Estar en el último de colegio…es muy grato saber que estás a punto de graduarte y cumplir con una de tus metas que es finalizar el colegio.  Claro que el último año no es fácil porque tu vida poco a poco va tomando un giro importante que es el de la responsabilidad.  Uno se comienza a independizar, pero siempre hay que escuchar a los demás, sus consejos, en algo que no entiendes.  Puede ser referente a tus estudios, que son importante.  Algún día gracias a tu esfuerzo académico puedes obtener logros como diplomas o becas como los obtuve yo, y al obtener todos estos logros, las demás personas te van a respetar como persona.  Si todo va bien ya puede que más adelante de te respeten como un profesional.

Thank you for a successful #GivingTuesday 2014!

We owe a huge THANK YOU to all of you for your support this past #GivingTuesday!

For those who are wondering, Giving Tuesday is the non-profit world’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year December 2nd) – charities, families, business, community centers, and students across the world came together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give!

According to the United Nations Foundation (one of the co-founders of the Giving Tuesday movement) more than 26,000 partners participated this year with civic initiatives, fundraising campaigns and volunteer work.

Starfish has participated for the past 3 years, since the start of this initiative.  This year we participated by hosting happy hours and dinner events across the U.S.!  16 Starfish volunteers & supporters in MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD and NE combined to host a total of 10 events.  Friend of Starfish organized happy hours, dinner events and more while promoting Starfish to their friends, co-workers, neighborhoods and community in hopes of spreading awareness and raising funds for Starfish – and they sure were successful!

We are excited to announce that so far a total of $4,072.15 has been raised from these events and other supporters on Giving Tuesday.  In the coming weeks we will have a final tally to share with you.

If you still want to join in on the fun, you have one last chance – tomorrow – Friday, December 12 from 7-10pm at the Gin Mill on 81st & Amsterdam in Manhattan!

Thank you!!!

 

An Evening for the Stars…CT style!

Beth & Jenn with former Starfish volunteer and photographer for the night, Maria!
A few weeks ago, we held another successful, “Evening for the Stars,” this time in Windsor Locks, CT.  For the third time now, friends of Starfish gathered together for a night of good food, great company and a chance to learn a little bit more about our programs.  
Delicious buffet dinner
The night started off with some social time to browse the silent auction items and participate in a 50-50 raffle.  This year’s auction not only featured several items from Ecuador, but also many local products.  In total there were over 35 items up for auction!
Auction Items from Ecuador!
Once all of our guests had arrived, we sat down for a delicious meal of rice, beans, enchiladas, chicken & more.  We shared with our guests about the need for Starfish and shared some of videos of our students. 
Guests Nadia, Joe, Matt, Rachel, Liz, Alyssa, Jenn & Jeff
As dinner was winding down, we had one last call for the silent auction before our keynote speaker, Don Awalt, gave a heartwarming and thought-provoking reflection on his recent trip to visit Starfish in Guayaquil.
Don during his reflection

All in all, it was a great night to share with friends, and a very successful fundraiser.  Between ticket sales, auction, raffle and general donations including those received from friends who could not attend, we raised 10% of our total budget for the entire year in just one night!

Guests Gabi, Julie, Shane, Nicole & Marcus

See our newsletter for official numbers, and if you don’t already receive it, don’t forget to sign up!

This night would not have been possible without the dedicated help and organization of many volunteers like those pictured below.  Thank you, gracias, from the bottom of our hearts!

   

 

Exciting News from our Flor de Bastión Employees

Newly painted walls in our new place!
Students comfortably fit in our new &
 improved BIG classroom in Flor!

Hello…
We are very happy to write to you all again after a few months.  We want to tell you that things are getting even better every day here.  Now we have a bigger space and we have a lot of hopes, we’ve thought about a lot of things that we are going to do.  The most important to highlight is that we are like a big family, and united we are going to achieve all of our goals.

More space for more supplies!
And a whole field outside just for us! 
Recently, we had a visit from the Board & other friends of Starfish and for us it was an unforgettable experience.  Both the employees and the students were very excited about their arrival.  Some of the students were able to meet their pen pals, and for each one it was really interesting to meet them in person as they exchanged likes and preferences.  The days that they were here in Ecuador were really fun.  Both in the “Olimpiadas” (field day) and trip to the beach all of the students behaved really well and we are really proud of them.

We’ve also had many visits from volunteers during these months.  They’ve been a lot of help in our tutoring program since they share their cultures with each one of us, in addition to teaching small English classes for the students.  Not too long ago ago 2 of them left and we want to tell them through this blog that we are going to miss them and we hope they come back soon.
With love,
The Flor de Bastión Employees

And for our Spanish-language readers, here is their original text!

Hola…
Nos sentimos muy contentos de volver a escribirles después de algunos meses. Queremos contarles que las cosas aquí cada día van  mejorando, ahora ya tenemos un lugar más amplio y tenemos muchas expectativas, hemos pensado en muchas cosas que vamos a  hacer y lo importante de destacar es que somos una gran familia y todos unidos vamos a lograr  lo que nos  hemos propuesto.
Recientemente tuvimos la visita de la Directiva y para nosotros fue una experiencia inolvidable, tanto los ayudantes como los chicos nos sentimos  muy emocionados de su llegada. Algunos de los becados conocieron a sus amigos de correspondencia, para cada uno fue muy interesante conocerlos en persona pues intercambiaron gusto y preferencia. Los días que estuvieron aquí en Ecuador fueron muy divertidos tanto en las olimpiadas como en el viaje a la playa todos la chicos tuvieron un muy buen comportamiento y estamos muy orgullosos de ellos.
También hemos tenido visitas de muchos voluntarios estos meses, quienes han sido de mucha ayuda en nuestros refuerzos ya que comparten la cultura de su país con cada uno de nosotros además les dan pequeñas clases de inglés a los chicos. Hace poco dos de ellos se fueron y queremos decirles a través de esta blog que los vamos a extrañar y esperamos regresen pronto.
Con cariño,
Ayudantes “Flor de Bastión “

Ayudante Update from: Guasmo!

This week we get the chance to hear from our “Ayudantes” in Guasmo about the beginning of the school year there!

“During May and June, we set up a schedule with the parents to help us with snack.  So far, everyone has collaborated and the kids are satisfied with the snack they are given.

In the Starfish Foundation in Guasmo we have 2 groups:

Group 1: The students come Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  In the morning we have 7th, 8th and 9th graders, and in the afternoon we have 10th, 11th and 12th grades.  In each group they do their homework, and during free time we do ice-breakers.  The new students and the old students get along very well, there’s a lot of friendship and everyone helps each other.

Group 2: The students come Tuesday and Friday in the morning and they are in 6th and 7th grade.  They do their homework and during free time we do ice-breakers.  The new students and the old students get along very well, there’s a lot of friendship and everyone helps each other.  They really like the ice-breakers and other activities, and they have a lot of ideas.

We also had a parents meeting to explain the new rules, values and snack system.

In the foundation, we also go on field trips, and one of those was the Integration Day when we spent a morning playing sports with the Scholars.

From,
Yuliana, Cynthia, Lissette, Betsabeth & Marcos”

Ayudante update from: Flor de Bastión!

Today our Employees or Program Leaders  (the “Ayudantes”) share with us a beautiful reflection about the beginning of the school year at our Flor de Bastión site…stay tuned next week for the Guasmo updates!

“Hi!  Here we have a very friendly environment where some of our most important values include: respect, fellowship, humility and mutual cooperation between us and the students.

We have three groups during the week, and each one is different from the others. One of these groups is the group with the youngest students, which is also our most active group.  Then we have our morning group which is a little quieter and always gives a 100% effort in their work, and lastly the second afternoon group which is a little more challenging to work with – some are quiet and others talk a lot, but all have dreams and goals to achieve!

We as employees and leaders always try to be patient and also to get to know each student better.  We share our friendship and our knowledge with them.  Even so, there are some things we are still working to improve, and every day we strive to be better.  That’s a little of what is going on at the foundation.

Peace,
Jessica, Tyrone, María, Cecilia, Kevin & Jasmin”

You might notice a new name on that list – Find out more about the newest addition to our Starfish team, Cecilia, over at our Employees page!

Integration Day

This past weekend we had our first “Integration Day” of 2014, where our Scholars from both Guasmo and Flor de Bastión had the chance to recreate and converse during a day of fun-filled sun and sports!
2014-2015 Starfish Scholars
Switching it up from past Integration Days, we decided not to have either neighborhood host, but instead we took the kids to a local park, Parque Samanes.  Over a year ago, the government opened the first phase of what will be one of the 3 biggest parks in all of Latin America. We played soccer and basketball, and enjoyed using the exercise equipment.  
New Starfish Scholars had a blast getting to know each other, while our returning Scholars had a chance to catch up with old friends.  The best part – this park is free and we hope our students are able to go back soon with their families.  
Scholars Maria and Solange with Employees Lissette, Cynthia and Yuliana

Relaxing after a hot day in the sun!

It’s Back to School season! 2014-2015

The new school year hasn’t quite started yet here in Guayaquil, but we’re already getting ready for the new school year here in Guayaquil.  As the students enjoy their last few weeks of vacation, they are also busy getting their new shoes & uniforms.  The “ayudantes” and I have already purchased new backpacks and notebooks for the year.  Both spaces are starting to look more like real classrooms and we even had our first parent & student meeting a couple of weeks ago.  

This year’s scholars in Flor de Bastión!
Meet some of our Starfish families – both new and old!  And stay tuned for more exciting updates as we approach the start of classes on Monday, May 5!
Starfish Scholar Juliana, her sister and niece!
Starfish Scholars Anthony, Evelyn and Argenis, with their mom and sister,
and new addition – Domenica, Evelyn’s daughter! 
Starfish Scholar Mirka with her mom and sister!
Third-year Starfish Scholar Joel with his mom and younger brother!

From Baltimore to Ecuador!

From Baltimore to Ecuador!

On March 7, The Starfish Foundation hosted its first Baltimore “An Evening For the Stars” that welcomed over 100 guests where they celebrated the foundation’s accomplishments and heard its future dreams. Many guests traveled from corners of the United States to show their support for the Starfish Scholars in Ecuador, deserving recipients of educational scholarships through The Starfish Foundation.

Mike, Kathy, Beth, Don & Dave, part of the organizing crew for this event!
The check-in table!
“An Evening For the Stars” was an night of festive food, sights and sounds with an Ecuadorian flare! The chef served a menu of Ecuadorian favorites including tortilla shells filled with rice, beans and chicken, served with sweet plantains. Brightly decorated tables of yellow and aqua filled the room, topped with creative school-themed centerpieces, pen-pal letters from Starfish Scholars and their photos. The silent auction table was loaded with colorful treasures by Ecuadorian artists and unique handmade frames filled with pictures of Starfish Scholars.

Silent Auction table!

Our wonderful music for the night!
Rev. John Swope, SJ, the evening’s Keynote speaker, explained the importance of helping others in our world, just as we care for those in the United States. Beth Awalt, co-founder of The Starfish Foundation gave an enthusiastic presentation and showed videos of co-founder Jenn Zocco working in Ecuador alongside smiling Starfish Scholars! Beautiful live music filled the hall as new friends met and old friends laughed together all evening long. We give thanks to everyone who attended and to the volunteers who pulled this sensational event together.

Fr. Swope, SJ during his inspiring speech!
Kathy, Danny & Dr. Klingler – this year’s award winners!

During “An Evening For the Stars” The Starfish Foundation’s spirit traveled across continents from Baltimore to Ecuador.

Reflection written by Kathy Awalt, Administrative Assistant for Starfish and one of our dedicated organizers of this wonderful event!