Thursday, June 27, 2013

"What I like About Starfish"

When Briggette finished her homework early, she used her free time to share with us what she likes most about Starfish.

Briggette working on her homework with Starfish employee Yuliana.

What I Like about Starfish

I like to be at Starfish because they help me with the basic subjects like Science, Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and it's a great help for my parents.  Thanks to this situation, I have my uniform, backpack, notebooks, everything thanks to The Starfish Foundation.  I also like Starfish because thanks to this I have friends, and having friends is cool because what I don't understand, they can teach me.  I thank all of you for what you've done for my siblings and mostly for me because I don't know how to thank Jennifer and most of all Isa.  I hope to continue in the Foundation.  I thank Yuli, Andrew, Danny and my friends.  Thank you, seriously, from the bottom of my heart.

~Briggette Bravo, Age 11

Briggette, center, showing off her dance moves at June's Integration day.

Los Gustos sobre Estrellitas

A mí me gusta estar en Estrellitas porque me ayudan en las materias básicas como CC.NN., Matemática, Lengua, EE.SS., y es una carga para mis padres.  Gracias a esta situación tengo uniformes, mochila, cuadernos, todo gracias a la Fundación Estrellitas del Mar.  Esto también me gusta porque gracias a eso tengo amigos, y tener amigos es chevere porque lo que no entiendo me lo enseñan.  Les agradezco todo lo que han hecho por mis hermanos y sobre to a mí porque no se como agradecerles a Jennifer y sobre todo a Isa.  Espero seguir estando en la Fundación.  Le agradezco a Yuli, Andrés, Danny y a mis compañeros.  Gracias en serio de corazón.

~ Briggette Bravo

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Integration the eyes of a volunteer.

Volunteer Andrew shares with us his experience of last Sunday's integration Day in Flor de Bastión!
A group song to unite the two Starfish neighborhoods.

Jenn celebrating with the June birthday girls!

"I got to experience the grand fiesta known as integration day where the refuerzo students from Guasmo got to reunite with their counterparts in Flor De Bastion for a day. This was definitely something that I will not soon be able to forget. Just taking a bus load of kids to Flor was an interesting experience. 

Andrew & Danny with the Guasmo crew after their bus ride!

Once we got to Flor de Bastión the party was a really fun way to just relax with the kids in a way that we normally can't during the week when the kids all have school. Dancing is very important here in Ecuador and I got a a chance to experience that fact first hand on the dance floor. Even Jaren, my 8 year old best friend in Ecuador, can pull of those Michael Jackson moves effectively. 

Jaren showing off his dance moves!
Sra. Elena, mom of 3 Starfish scholars and a huge supporter, pulls Andrew & Danny out onto the dance floor!

On top of dancing we played a few really cool games and we had some special presentations. A few of the kids from Flor presented some love songs they had been practicing, one of which was in English.

Dayanna and Maria Belen singing & dancing!
Mayerly, Andreina, Briggette, Genesis and Nagelhi showing off their dance moves!
On top of that the Guasmo kids wrote and presented a play of their own about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol which they some how managed to achieve in a comedic light. 

Solange and Valeria performing the skit.

The best part though was just getting the chance to see how the community really came together here to celebrate what Starfish has to offer. I know that a lot of work went into making Integration Day possible and it really wouldn't have been possible without the people who donated the time and material and space to make this all possible. 

Starfish employees from both neighborhoods with Starfish directors Jenn & Beth
Starfish scholar Cristhian with his mom, younger sister Noelia, and  siblings and Starfish Employees Tyrone and Jasmin.

It is clear to me that Starfish is primarily a community organization, the outside money helps make everything that Starfish does possible but in the end it is the communities in both Flor and Guasmo that work together to take advantage of what Starfish has to offer."

Jenn & Beth

Monday, June 17, 2013

Meet our newest volunteer, Danny!

This week we hear from Danny - a recent Villanova graduate and Starfish's newest volunteer. Danny has worked with Starfish at Villanova through Business Without Borders and a class where he helped design a Salesforce database specifically designed for Starfish's unique needs. Now Danny personally gets to see the Foundation that he has worked so hard to help over the past year or so!

Danny with Starfish volunteer Andrew, helping Yesenia and Yamileth with their homework.

Wednesday, June 12

"This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind of learning new things, meeting new people, and going to new places. I have never taken a Spanish class and know very little Spanish, so using and learning Spanish was definitely a worry of mine before coming here. It has been kind of fun communicating with students using English, Spanish, hand motions, etc. I have been quickly trying to pick up the most important questions and phrases in Spanish. Most importantly, the first question that the students always asked me during my introductions involved “Barcelona or Emelec?”(The two soccer teams in Guayaquil).

Danny's first day with the kids. (Jenn's note - Danny chose Barcelona for his Guayaquil team!)

Communication with me usually involves a student saying a sentence to me in seemingly very fast and mumbled Spanish, me have a confused blank stare on my face, the student changing the sentence to a few key words, me understanding a couple words, another person helping with translation, and finally unanimous jubilation after comprehension is reached!

Danny helping André with some English homework.

I have enjoyed helping students with their English homework. English is not an easy language to learn! It has also been a lot of fun playing games (Uno is my personal favorite) and sharing knowledge of English and Spanish with each other.

Danny & Andrew playing Uno with Starfish Employees Marcos, Yuliana and Valeria during the break!

In the four days that I have been with the students, I can already see their talent, potential, and leadership skills. Quick story: For Solange’s birthday today, we had cake. Once the cake came, a couple curious very young children came and quietly watched us eat. Without being asked, some of the Starfish students went out and offered their cake to the children. I was very impressed with the servant leadership qualities displayed here. Ecuador, and the rest of the world, needs places like Starfish to provide environments for talented and caring leaders like the girls mentioned above to flourish. I am excited to continue to learn and help where I can during the rest of my time here!"

The afternoon crew in Guasmo!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A sneak peak of June at Starfish

At Starfish we try to keep the kids engaged in their learning by doing many different activities.  Today, Abraham and Santiago both finished their work early and decided to show us their drawing talents.  Check it out!


Beth came to visit us this past week, and we have yet another new volunteer - Danny!

Danny and Beth showing their Villanova pride at the Starfish Integration Day.

Stay tuned for more updates on Beth's visit, Danny's volunteer experience and last Sunday's "Integration Day" where the students from both neighborhoods got together to share in a special day as one big Starfish family.  Here's a sneak peak!

Starfish students, new & old at the first "Integration Day" of 2013 in Flor de Bastión.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Meet "los padres" - the parents! And much more...

Last week our parents joined us for the first parents meeting of the 2013 school year.  We talked about the progress of their kids, as well as planned for some exciting, upcoming events.

Parents in Flor de Bastión contributing their ideas for the upcoming Integration Day.

Our May monthly meeting with the scholarship students was also exciting.  We had a lot of fun playing  some great ice breakers...

and learning about healthy eating habits!

Special thanks to Michaela S. from Villanova University for her nutrition analysis of the Starfish scholars, as well as SueAnne L. and Cigna for their generous donation of toothbrushes for the scholars!

For our Spanish speaking friends we have an exciting new addition to our updates this year - a monthly parent newsletter.  Starfish Co-Director Jenn designed the first one as an example to the students and parents, but from here on out a group of 2-3 students will help design the newsletter each month.  We hope this gives the students a great way to reflect on their work, while also helping to keep their parents more informed of what they do while they are at Starfish.  Each newsletter will include updates on what we've done and will also feature work done by some of our students.  Check out the first issue given out last week at the parent meeting!

June Parent Newsletter