“We are all Children”: El dia del niño

“They say that all people, whether adults or seniors, carry a child inside them, and this is true,” say administrator Jasmin and educator William. I met up with them this week to talk about El dia del niño – an internationally celebrated day honoring the importance of children. Here’s what we found out:

No one can deny that the most notorious characteristic in children is happiness, often considered within the family as “the joy of home.” Children enjoy a truly pure personality, without malice, without bad thoughts, without problems, etc. This is reflected in their actions and it’s very likely you’ve even witnessed it, we have all seen a child sharing his or her food, delighting others with their tenderness, trying to make someone who’s sad laugh, among many others actions, which people over time lose without even realizing it.

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Today is El dia del niño (The Day of the Child). El dia del niño is a date where we are reminded of the important role children have in society, to improve children’s rights around the world, and to encourage education. Although this day is celebrated on different dates throughout the world, the symbolism of this day has the same message: The importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Primary goals of el dia include:

  • honoring children and childhood;

  • promoting literacy and the importance of linking all children to books, languages, and cultures;

  • honoring home languages and cultures, and thus promoting bilingual and multilingual literacy

  • involving parents in the lives and education of their children

It is a celebration where parents, educational institutions, and other organizations all work together. Here in Ecuador, this celebration is held as a tribute children on the first day of June. Organizations gather to do activities for and with the children by giving them gifts. Meanwhile, in schools, they put on historical reviews of children that are remembered throughout history.

While not the only day in which we celebrate and remember the value of children, it is an important day to remind all children how important they are for us, both today and for our futures. The children of today will mold our families, our communities, and all of humanity. 

 

Dia de la Madre – Celebrando a Mamá

Today we’re going to catch up on Mother’s Day in Ecuador. One of our educators, William, has provided us with a a great synopsis of how the day went. Let’s see what he has to say!

8208“No matter what your nationality is, where you live on the planet, or what your religion is, there are many different words to say it. But, the meaning will always be the same… Mom! Mom means so much. In thinking about this word, many other words or emotions come to mind: love, friendship, tenderness, happiness, understanding and more. Isn’t it incredible?

A mother is: a friend who you can trust, a person that will always be there for you despite your errors, and someone that fights to give the best to her children regardless of the effort. In summary, a mom is the most wonderful being that can exist. It is for this reason that a day exists every year in which people from many parts of the world join together in order to celebrate Mother’s Day. In Ecuador, this day is celebrated the second Sunday of May and many people celebrate this day by serenading their mothers, bringing them flowers, making cakes, preparing a wonderful dinner, etc.
The Starfish Foundation holds activities annually to entertain the mothers of its community and this year was no exception. The students put on an activity in which they visited some mother’s houses, sang to them and also brought them cards, in which they expressed their infinite love. Together with the students, the foundation was able to show the affection and gratitude that we have toward the mothers. Our gratitude is not only for the help they give their children, but also for the help that they provide the foundation, as a fundamental pillar for mutual growth.”

Thanks William!

xx,

Henry

 

Original Text:

No importa cual sea tu nacionalidad, en qué lugar del planeta vivas o cual sea tu religión, para decirlo las palabras serán muchas pero el significado será siempre el mismo. Mama! Pero mamá significa mucho, al pensar en esta simple palabra se nos vienen a la mente muchísimas otras palabras o sentimientos como; amor, amistad, ternura, alegría, comprensión… y mas. ¿Increíble verdad?

 

Una madre es una amiga en la que puedes confiar, es una persona que a pesar de tu errores siempre estara para ti, es aquella persona que lucha por darle lo mejor a sus hijos sin importar el esfuerzo en resumen es el ser mas maravillosos que puede existir, es por este motivo que cada año existe un día en que las personas de muchas partes del mundo se reúnen para celebrar el  dia de las Madres. En Ecuador este día se conmemora el segundo domingo del mes de Mayo y muchas personas celebran este día llevandoles serenata a sus mamitas tambien llevandoles flores, haciendo tortas, haciendoles una rica cena, etc.
La Fundación “Estrellitas de Mar” realiza anualmente actividades para agasajar a las madres de su comunidad, y este año no fue la excepción. Los estudiantes realizaron una actividad en la cual visitaron la casa de algunas mamitas, les cantaron y les llevaron una tarjetita en la cual expresaron su infinito amor. De esta manera, en conjunto con los jóvenes, la fundación  pudo demostrar el cariño y lo agradecidos que estamos no solamente por la ayuda que le brindan a sus hijos sino también la ayuda que brindan a la fundación como pilar fundamental para un crecimiento mutuo.

Julio Ponce: 2017 Graduate

26190743582_3eedcd05ef_bGraduation is always a time for celebration, reflections, and looking ahead. This week, I had a conversation with Julio Ponce about his education thus far, what might be next, and the people who inspire him to dream big.

Are you going to attend college? And, if you are going to attend, what do you want to study?
Julio: I plan to go to university to study architecture or nursing.

What are some of the most important moments you remember from school – your favorite memories?
Julio: The most important times were spending time with my friends. The most unforgettable date was when I took part in the flag ceremony.

What are some goals that you have for your experience and studies at university?
Julio: My goal is to get a degree in architecture and to create a building that is well known.

Is there a person who inspires you?
Julio: The person who inspires me is my mom since she has always worked hard for me. Now it is my turn to work hard for her.

Have you changed during your time at school?
Julio: Yes, I change my habits at school; now I’m more responsible. I’ve also learned to express myself and am comfortable speaking in front of the other people on various subjects.

How did you discover and develop your talents and skills during school?
Julio: I already had the talent but the more time I spent at school, the more those talents developed. I found I was also able to teach certain skills to my classmates and teachers.

What do you expect to achieve over the next five years?
Julio: Get a university degree and share it with my family so I can help others.

If you could change one thing about your educational experience so far, what would it be?
Julio: I would not change anything because what I’ve learned in school will help me in my life.

Wow! Now that’s a smart and highly motivated Starfish! With this kind of thinking, motivation, and desire to succeed, we know Julio will achieve great things.

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Senior Project Final – Proyecto de Alfabetización

Hey everyone and welcome to the month of May! We’re going to check back in with some of our Senior students and find out more about senior projects! This time, I met with members of the “Literacy Project,” which included John B., Julexi C. and Joselyn C.

To begin, I asked the students for a brief description about their project and how they got it started. They told me that their goal was to help a student with literacy and they said, “In an effort to obtain student materials for our project, we looked for donors. We were able to collect a pencil, a pencil sharpener, a notebook, an eraser, and a support book.”

They went on to say, “During our preparation for this project, we also did a little planning of what we would teach the student. We received help from the educator Pamela Rodríguez, who was very aware of the details of our project. She taught us how to prepare and helped with the courses given throughout this project.”

Then the Seniors gave me an idea of how each day went with their student. Here’s a look at their diary:

January 29
We started by passing out of all the materials (pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, “Nacho” textbook) to the mother who attended our class. Next, we carried out a dynamic integration activity so that the class would be very fun and nice for her. Then, we started our class with vowels, reviewing, writing, coloring, etc.Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 10.36.16 AM
February 5th
In the second week, we reviewed what we did the previous week. For that, we looked for a interactive game (make a vowel notebook). We started with a lesson about consonants
and reviewing her full name.
February 8
We started again with a small review of her name and vowels. The same day, we learned to identify uppercase and lowercase letters and we started to learn some easy phonemes (letters or a letter combination that distinguish the sounds of words). Then it was time for the culmination activity. We prepared some small snacks to share, to celebrate the participation and collaboration of our student.

Finally, I asked the seniors to give me their final thoughts on the projects. Here’s what they had to say, “Having completed this project, we realized that the classes were very short and should be a little more extensive. The classes should also be held during summer vacation, because other parents did not attend since the majority have children who study, which made it a little difficult to attend. Also, in the future we should offer an option for the literacy students to receive classes in their homes. That way, if the student cannot attend classes at our foundation or another problem arises, they can still receive class.”

Benefit Dinner: Celebrating 5 Years of Starfish!

The Starfish Benefit Dinner was a phenomenal success! Everyone here at Starfish thanks everyone who was involved – whether you attended the dinner, bid on an auction item, sponsored a scholar, donated an auction item, or helped us out behind the scenes, we most definitely couldn’t have done this without all our amazing supporters. We hope everyone had as much fun celebrating the fifth birthday of The Starfish Foundation as we did.

benefit dinner 2

The Benefit Dinner took place at St. Joseph’s Church in Cockeysville, Maryland on Saturday April 29th. All our “star” guests enjoyed live music, a delicious Ecuadorian dinner, and a chance to celebrate five years of Starfish with other friends, volunteers, supporters, and staff. When not dancing or bidding on the silent auction items, guests also got to hear from a few of our current Starfish Scholars about their dreams for the future and from experienced volunteers who shared their Starfish experience.

benefit dinnerBesides being loads of fun, Saturday evening was a huge success!
• Over $10,500 was raised on Saturday evening
• $67,500 total was raised from the dinner and silent auction.
• We had 146 attendees, plus the presence of one “star fish,” (that’s me!)
• Almost 150 auction items were sold!

If you missed the festivities, you can watch one of our scholar videos here

Thank you again!
See you next year!!
Henry

Interview with a Graduate: Joselyn Calle

29333905716_08584a97de_zSwam on down to Ecuador this week to connect with one of our 2017 graduates – Joselyn Calle. We chatted about memories from the past and dreams for the future. 

Are you going to attend college? And, if you are going to attend, what do you want to study?

Joselyn: If I go to college I would like to pursue law degree.

What are some of the most important moments you remember from school – your favorite memories?

Joselyn: Getting together with my classmates. To have shared many experiences and anecdotes that in the future will tell my children about.  

What are your expectations for your university experiences?

Joselyn: I think my goals and experiences at university will be nice and satisfying.

Is there a person who inspires you? If so, why?

Joselyn: The people who inspire me are very special in my life. They have given me support and trust, which inspires me.

Have you changed during your time at school?

Joselyn: Yes, I have noticed some changes in myself. I have become more responsible, my skills have grown which makes me proud because I feel that I am a very capable person.  

Calle Joseline-2017What talents and skills did you discover or develop at school?

Joselyn: My skills and talents are unique, I believe I’m a woman who is very capable of doing different things. I do not have a specific talent but I feel that I am able to fulfill my dreams and goals.

What do you hope to achieve over the next five years?

Joselyn: To have accomplished my goals and continue with my professional career.

 

If you could change one thing about your educational experience would it be?

Joselyn: My educational experience was very pleasant, so I would not change anything. They are anecdotes in my life which give me many examples, so I would not change anything.

Thanks Joselyn! And congratulations of your graduation. We know your future is bright and full of wonderful experiences. 

Hugs!
Henry

 

¿Vas a asistir a la universidad? Y, si vas a asistir, ¿qué quieres estudiar?

Si voy asistir y me gustaría seguir la carrera leyes

¿Qué son unos momentos más importantes que recuerdas del colegio- tus memorias favoritas?

Si voy a las reuniones con mis compañeros. Haber compartido muchas experiencias y anécdotas que en algún futuro serán contadas a mis hijos

¿Qué son unas metas que tienes para tu experiencia y estudias en la universidad?

Mis metas y mis experiencias para la universidad pensar que voy hacer sean agradables y satisfactoria

¿Hay una persona que te inspira? Si hay ¿Por qué?

La persona que me inspira es muy especial en mi vida la cual me ha brindado su apoyo y confianza por esa razón es una inspiración para mí

¿Has cambiado durante tu tiempo en el colegio?

Sí, he notado algunos cambios en mi me he vuelto más responsable mis capacidades han aumentado lo cual me enorgullece porque siento que soy una persona muy capas

¿Cómo descubriste tu talento y tus habilidades en el colegio?

Mis habilidades y talentos son únicos yo me creo una mujer súper que capaz de realizar diversas cosas no tengo un talento en específico pero si recomiendo que soy capaz de cumplir mis sueños y metas propuestas

¿Qué esperas lograr durante los próximos cincos años?

Haber culminado a seguir con mi carrera profesional

¿Si pudieras cambiar una cosa sobre tu experiencia educativa que sería?

Mi experiencia educativa fue muy agradable por lo cual no cambiaría nada ya que son anécdotas en mi vida la cual me dan muchos ejemplo por  lo cual yo no cambiaría nada

Senior Project Final: Informe Adultos Mayores

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starfish March Madness!

marchMarch may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, but March Madness is a high paced adventure from start to finish. With unbelievable upsets at every round and underdogs proving themselves time and time again, everyone was scrambling to recalculate their brackets, and a lot of people spent the evenings yelling at their TVs (both in despair and in jubilation).

This year, 58 people came out for the Starfish March Madness bracket – about 15 more than the total number in 2016. Total donations made in the name of March Madness exceeded $2,000! Thank you!

The final game was a match up between North Carolina and Gonzaga – and N. Carolina took home the trophy 71-65, in a game that was far too close for viewer comfort. Our amazing winners for 2017 – all of whom picked N. Carolina to win it all – were as follows:
• 1st Place – Christina Natalello ($100 Amazon Gift Card)
• 2nd Place – Jessica Cochol (Cotopaxi Backpack)
• 3rd Place – Christina MacNair ($25 iTunes Gift Card)

Honorable mention must go to John Todd who lead the way after Round 1, Round 2, the Sweet 16, and the Elite 8. Congrats John!

Round 2, was referred to by Danny as “whoa, a wild weekend” with South Carolina defeating #2 seed Duke, and Wisconsin taking out #1 seed Villanova. As Beth nicely put it,”there were a lot of upsets and upset people” … but some were in fact elated over these underdog victories. Christina V, Andy F, and Lisa C all predicted the Wisconsin win, and Becky M and Jasmin T (representing a group of our educators in Ecuador), both called the S. Carolina upset over Duke. Betting on the underdog definitely paid of!

We thank everyone who participated, and look forward to hosting March Madness again in 2018 – may the best team win!

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

Ecuadorian Women Who Made History

American historian Laurel Ulrich once said, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are a few of the millions of brave women that have broken all conventional rules to make a difference in the world.vera

Noralma Vera Arrata – Former Ecuadorian Prima Ballerina, choreographer, and Director of the National Dance Institute (Instituto Nacional de Danza)
Born in 1936, she began to dance in 1945 in Guayaquil. In 1957 she traveled to London to perfect her skill at The Royal Ballet. Throughout her career she dances in London, Paris, Ecuador, and Cuba – excelling in both Ballet and Modern.  In 1978, Vera founded her own ballet company and academy in her home city. After retiring from active dancing, Vera worked as a diplomat in Mexico and Cuba.
Fátima Ptacek – Actress and UN Activistfatima

As an actress, she is most well-known as the lead actor in the 2012 Academy Award winning film Curfew and its 2014 full-length feature film version Before I Disappear. She has also been the voice of “Dora” in Nickelodeon’s animated television series Dora the Explorer since 2010. As a UN activist, she has played an active role in the #HeForShe campaign for gender equality.  She is currently 16 years old, fluent in Spanish, English and Mandarin, and has expressed interest in transitioning from acting to a career in law someday.

Judith Gutiérrez Moscoso – Painter
Gutiérrez worked in multiple media including painting, sculpture, graphics, decoratives and applied installation. She also made puppets, costumes, and scenery for puppet shows. Her most famous pieces were the the Paraíso and Nocturno series. Gutierrez was known for ingenious composition of figures, incorporating symbols, and mystical scenes; nature, men, women, and the cosmos, are all the general components of her works. The critic Jorge Dávila Vásquez said that her work featured “the primitivism of those furtive encounters of man with the little demons of his childhood, nurtured by the religious Christian imaginary.”

judith - paraiso No. 2
Paraiso No. 2

aliciaAlicia Yáñez Cossío – Poet, Novelist, Journalist
Alicia is one of the leading figures in Ecuadorian literature and in Latin America, and she is the first Ecuadorian to win the Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, which she received in 1996. Born in 1928 and raised in Quito she had “an extremely happy childhood, maybe a bit boyish, influenced by the first books I read: the works of Julio Verne and Tarzan’s feats.” Male chauvinism is a recurring theme in her writing. Irony, sarcasm and hyperbole make evident twisted masculine superiority and she often critiques social concepts such as virginity and homosexuality.  One of her more famous novels is “El Cristo Feo” (“The Ugly Christ”). In 1996 she received the Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz for the best Latin American novel written by a woman.

While I could write on and on about these women and others, I instead encourage you to look into your own female role models and learn more about the contributions they have made to society – past or present. And, as always, be sure to remember the women who are close to you – teachers, principals, businesswomen – who have encouraged you to find your voice, helped you overcome obstacles, or challenged you to think differently.