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.

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Cleaning, Summer Reading

April was a busy month in Ecuador!

 

While students were on summer break, they embraced a new summer reading initiative! Throughout March and April, Starfish students read daily, completed a reading log, and attended weekly sessions to talk about what they’re reading with our educators! How fun is that?

During summer break, recent Starfish grad, Julio, joined our staff as a work-study volunteer! He’s a quick learner and has been a great addition to the team – we’re so lucky to have him!

April also included some fun for our staff! At the beginning of April they went on their annual staff field trip to nearby pool and outdoor complex to spend a Sunday of relaxation with their work friends. Later in the month, we began a new monthly tradition of staff incentives – or what many of us might have heard called “mandatory fun” at college. This month staff first enjoyed a breakfast prepared by ICD Jenn, and then participated in a lip sync contest, inspired by Jimmy Fallon’s lip sync contests on his late night show. Everyone had a blast and looks forward to future staff bonding opportunities.

The new school year started on April 24th. Two days prior, on April 22nd, we held a meeting and invited all the scholars to come and receive their backpacks, uniforms, shoes, and school supplies. Scholars then participated in the School for Leadership. This month’s theme was humanitarian action, as we took a look back on the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador in April 2016, and the world’s humanitarian response to that tragedy.

The next day (April 23rd), we held our first Bingo of the year!Games of BINGO are a popular way to raise money in Ecuador. This year we raised about $275 at the event.

The first week of school was spent getting to know each other. New and returning scholars worked together to set expectations and goals for the new year and to review material from the previous semester. The last few weeks have been a lot of fun – we’re keeping everyone busy with clubs, projects, and many small workshops. Tune in next week for more details!

Throw Back Thursday: Lessons from Ecuador

This week, we’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane to see what various scholars, educators, and volunteers have learned through their experiences with Starfish:

“There is a universal language spoken through hugs, smiles, and laughter.” – Martin, volunteer

527e6-dscn2461“It’s important to give kids more ways to shine than just the classroom or the soccer field” – Danny, volunteer

“My wonderful opportunity to serve as an intern at the Starfish Foundation provides me with a greater insight of issues and circumstances worldwide, and has truly made me more grateful for the everyday things I have access to instantaneously. I have been handed so much in my life and I am thankful for the opportunity Starfish has given me to give back.” – Katrina, volunteer

“I have become more responsible, my skills have grown which makes me proud because I feel that I am a very capable person.” – Joselyn, scholar

“Without the people of the Starfish Foundation, I wouldn’t have learned more Spanish and how to work with their students. Additionally, without the students of Flor, I wouldn’t have learned how to work with English language learners and develop more skills as an educator.” – Katie, volunteerIntegration Day...in the eyes of a volunteer.

“I’ve learned to express myself and am comfortable speaking in front of the other people on various subjects.” – Julio, scholar

“Community can’t be taught, it must be built with time, trust, and consistency.” – Martin, volunteer

“Through reading, I learn more about myself and the world around me, and it has helped me to become who I am today.” – Sara W., scholar

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

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!

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.56.53 AM

  • 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

Interview with Julio Ponce, Starfish Student

This week, I traveled to Ecuador to speak with one of our senior Starfish students, Julio Ponce, who is 18 years old. I decided to talk with him about what his daily routine looks like. I wanted to know how much time he takes to complete certain tasks, how he gets from point A to point B and finally, hear about what parts of the day he really likes.

Julio began by telling me how his day starts, “I wake up at 7:30am and then I begin to tidy up. My mom prepares breakfast and serves it to me. After that, I get my notebooks ready to go to the foundation, which is on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. At 8:00am I arrive at the foundation, where volunteers and the educators help me with homework and we do dynamic activities and workshops until 10:00am. At that time I go back home and I start to help with the household chores.” I was impressed that Julio not only attends school for the day, but still has time for his household chores! Go Julio!

Julio continued by saying, “I gather my notebooks to go to school and after that, around 11am, I eat lunch. Then I bathe and put on the uniform for that day. I leave home at 11:40am and walk for about 15 minutes to catch the bus that takes me to school. I arrive at school after 18-25 minutes on the bus, depending on if it goes quickly or not. I enter the school at 12:20pm and then I greet my classmates, friends, and teachers. The first thing we do is work on English. I don’t understand it very well, but I do everything possible to understand it, whether it is doing some activities, going to workshops or reviewing my notebook.” I was very impressed with Julio’s determination to learn English, even though he says he doesn’t understand it. We always love hearing that our Starfish students are working their hardest!

Julio next told me that his day takes him through biology, math, investigation class, recess and then citizenship education class, language class, chemistry and then finally, physical education. He had a lot of great things to say about each of these courses, but he seemed to really like his citizenship education class, “ This class is very interesting because we study the articles of the constitution or we work with activities from the book.”

After Julio’s school day is done, it’s time for him to head home. “Then the school day ends and I leave and start to walk and walk with my friends. We eat bread with cola until I arrive at the place where I catch a car and then I catch the bus which then takes me home.” After getting home, Julio has a snack, prepared by his mom, works on his personal cleanliness and then enjoys watching a fighting program. After the program ends at 10:00pm, he says, “I become tired and I tidy up my bed to go to sleep. And so I sleep until the next day, when I go through the same routine.”

Wow, that’s quite the day! I am so glad that I had the chance to speak with Julio and learn more about his day-to-day in Ecuador. I am very proud of our Starfish students and can’t wait to find out who I will interview next!

Until next time,
Henry

Original Interview:

Cuéntanos sobre tu rutina diaria para llegar al colegio. ¿Cuánto tiempo demoras en llegar al colegio? ¿Cuántos buses tienes que coger?

“Mi nombre es Julio Ponce tengo 18 años, me levanto a las 7:30 am luego empiezo a asearme, mi mami me prepara el desayuno y me lo sirve, después alisto mis cuadernos para ir a la fundación que son los días lunes, martes y jueves, mi entrada a la fundación es las 8:00 am donde los educadores y voluntarios me ayudan con las tareas, hacemos dinámicas y talleres hasta que sean las 10:00 am luego llego a mi casa y empiezo ayudar con los quehaceres del hogar.
Alisto mis cuadernos para ir al colegio, a las 11:00 am almuerzo, luego me baño y me pongo el uniforme que toque ese día. La hora de salida de mi casa es a las 11:40 am, me demoro 15 minutos para ir a coger el bus que me lleva al colegio. Llego al colegio en unos 18 a 25 minutos depende del bus, si va rápido o no, entro al colegio a las 12:20, llego saludo a mis compañeros, amigos y profesores, a la primera hora nos toca ingles claro que no lo entiendo, pero hago todo lo posible para entender, si es de revisar cuaderno revisa o hacemos alguna actividad o talleres.
Luego empezamos con biología, es una profesora que, si sabe explicar y con ella podemos hacer bromas, ella hace las clases muy divertidas. Luego viene el profesor de matemáticas es nuestro tutor, me gusta su manera de explicar la clase, también es divertida y me gusta mucho. Luego nos toca investigación, las clases son muy bien explicadas y bien expuestas por nosotros mismos.
De ahí salimos al recreo que dura 30 minutos, en este tiempo camino con mis amigos, conversamos y comemos helado, se nos hace muy cortos esos 30 minutos. Luego empezamos con la clase de educación para la ciudadanía, sus clases son muy interesantes por que estudiamos los artículos de la constitución o trabajamos los talleres del libro. De ahí empezamos con la clase de lengua, con ella siempre trabajamos con el libro, realizamos lectura, o los talleres y también nos aburre con sus anécdotas que nos cuenta ella. Luego nos toca la clase de química la profesora es súper chévere, también la clase son divertidas porque con ella si nos reímos mucho, bueno yo también me rio o hago relajo hasta que llegaron al punto de cambiarme de puesto, aparte de que explica bien las clases.
De ahí viene educación física que ya es la última hora del día, aunque en algunas ocasiones no tenemos clases a esa hora con el profesor, porque en la ultima hora nos bajan al patio para formarnos y hacer el acto cívico.
Luego se termina el tiempo de estudio, en ese día salgo del colegio y empiezo a caminar y caminar, con mis amigos y amigas, comemos pan con cola hasta que llego al lugar que cojo el carro y después cojo el bus que me lleva a la casa. Llego a casa, y mi mama a preparado la merienda me sirve y como, luego empiezo con mi aseo personal, veo el programa combate del que yo soy fanático, el programa termina a las 10:00 pm cuando el programa termina me da sueño y arreglo mi cama para irme a dormir y así duermo hasta el siguiente día que es la misma rutina.”

Interview with Lucy Vargas, Starfish Student

Hello again and welcome to the month of March! This week, my travels to Ecuador led me to an interview with Lucy Vargas, one of our very own Starfish Foundation students. I love discussing a wide range of topics with our students, but this week I decided to discuss the future with Lucy.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-9-26-38-pmI asked Lucy to tell me what she wants to be when she grows up. Being a very dedicated and determined student, Lucy replied, “My dream is to be a Commercial Engineer when I grow up. However, there are also other careers that I am interested in, like being a veterinarian or a pediatrician. I know that these are three careers that demand effort and dedication. Nevertheless, I will try very hard in order to achieve my goals.” I was instantly impressed with Lucy’s answer and had to know more!

Lucy told me that she has different reasons she is drawn to each of these careers, but that, “behind each of these careers is something that inspires me.” When it comes to commercial engineering she said, “Commercial Engineering fascinates me a lot because my dad worked in a company alongside other engineers. Their goal was to design homes that would later be built, in which several people would be able to live.” I loved Lucy’s enthusiasm to not only design buildings and homes, but to help the people who would live in those homes.

Lucy’s passion for helping didn’t stop there. Her reasons behind becoming a veterinarian or a pediatrician are both based on her desire to help living creatures. “I like the idea of being a veterinarian, because I love animals, especially dogs. In fact, I have a dog named Tobby, who is brown and white and handsome. Finally, being a pediatrician appeals to me because children are my inspiration. They are like little angels. I have two little siblings, who I consider to be little angels sent by God to brighten up my family.”

Thank you again for the great chat, Lucy! Everyone at Starfish is so proud of you and we can’t wait to see what your future holds, either as a commercial engineer, as a veterinarian, as a pediatrician or even something else!

xx
Henry

Original Interview:

“Yo de grande quiero ser una profesional de Ingeniería Comercial. Sin embargo, también me gustaría estudiar otras carreras como veterinaria y pediatría. Se que son tres carreras que exigen esfuerzo y dedicación. No obstante, me esforzaré mucho por conseguir mis metas.

Detrás de cada una de las carreras que pienso seguir, hay algo que me inspira. Por ejemplo, de Ingeniería Comercial me fascina mucho porque mi papá trabajó en una compañía junto con otros ingenieros que se trazaron como meta construir viviendas para que puedan vivir algunas personas.

Veterinaria me gusta también porque me encantan los animales y en especial a los perros. De hecho yo tengo uno que es hermoso de color café y blanco y se llama Tobby.

Finalmente, Pediatría porque los niños son mi inspiración. Ellos son como unos angelitos. Yo tengo 2 hermanitos. Considero que son unos angelitos enviados de Dios para alegrar a mi familia.”

Senior Project Check-In: Ruddy Figueroa

Hi everyone! This past week I decided to check in on some of our senior students. As they enter the halfway point of their final year, a lot of them are making great progress on their Graduation Projects! So, I met up with one of our students, Ruddy Figueroa to discuss the theme and status of her project, both before and after she accomplished it!

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-10-53-39-amWhen I met with Ruddy a couple of months ago, the first thing I asked of her was to give a little introduction and description of her project. Ruddy told me that her project, “consists of hosting a little Christmas party for the boys and girls of my neighborhood: Guasmo Sur Coop. Julio Potes Jiménez, in the city of Guayaquil, based on the needs and scarce economic resources of the families who live in the area.” I was immediately intrigued, as this project sounded like a success already!

But, I wasn’t only impressed with the the project itself, I was impressed with Ruddy’s reasoning behind it. She said, “these families are made up of little kids that often can’t receive any gifts from their parents because of their financial situation. I want to organize this party to help and contribute to the happiness that doing community service generates.” Ruddy continued by telling me how she was going to achieve this goal. “I’ve decided to do a few different activities in order to be able to complete my project on time, including sending letters asking for donations and collaboration. I won’t need a building for the event because I plan to do it outside on a street with low a low volume of traffic. For my project I have the help of several community members who are available to help and collaborate.”

Flash forward to a week ago, and it was time for me to follow-up with Ruddy after she accomplished her Christmas party. I asked Ruddy to reflect on the project and let us know how she achieved her goal and how it made her feel. First, Ruddy said,

          “Not long ago, we started to work on a project, supervised by our foundation, the Starfish Foundation. In this project, many people close to me got involved. These people, in addition to my parents, helped me so that my idea could become a reality. Really, we started this project without knowing a lot about how to do this, but so many people were willing to help. Once we saw how abundant the help was, we decided to make the event even bigger.
When I sent letters to businesses, I received overwhelming and encouraging responses. This motivated me to keep moving forward with the idea to make the event bigger and reach out to more children than I had planned for in my project. The toys came in by the hundreds. I never thought that I would receive so much help. It really outdid my expectations.
The happiness kept growing when my classmates at Starfish offered to help me with the face painting activities for the children. Furthermore, around 250 children were able to receive gifts, and this included the younger brothers and sisters of my classmates from Starfish. I must admit, it was tiring and hard work, but the feeling of being able to was very comforting.
I also had the support of a school from my area, the “Escuela Fiscal Mixta Blanca Goetta de Ordoñez”. They lent me chairs, even though since we had a lot of children we still needed more chairs! In spite of this small challenge, the kids had a great night and had lots of fun with the activities we prepared for them. The skills of many were of great help to me in setting up the decorations for the party. My neighbors also helped me by lending me some lights, and my dad helped me to install them, so that the area was well lit for the event.”

It was so great to hear how many people and organizations were willing to chip in to help Ruddy with her party. She was so appreciative of their support and said, “That same night, at the end of the event, those who helped me with the party came over to my house where I had also prepared a meal for them to thank them for their enthusiastic efforts in making this event a success.” Well done Ruddy! Lastly, I asked her for one final thought on both the party and the project. Ruddy said, “There are so many ways to help someone who needs it, and so many ways that we can collaborate to help.”

I am so proud of Ruddy and all of our Starfish students!

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