Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Meeting - Recycling!

For our January monthly meeting we did a recycling projects with the Scholars.  First we talked about the importance of recycling and then we made recycled paper!  A few days before the students brought in a bunch of old papers that there were going to throw away.  We ripped them up into little pieces and let them soak in water for a few days.  When it was time for our meeting, this is what took place:

First we had to blend the paper and then spread it out on a piece of cloth.
 Here, Milena, Ana & Eddy are helping with that process.

Pamela & Cristhian working together to get rid of all the excess water.

A group of Guasmo students working together!
Once we got rid of the water, some of our students like Ana got creative with some designs .
Here is one of the finished pieces of paper!
After the student meeting, we had a parent meeting with a guest speaker who helped facilitate a conversation about spending time in family, in hopes that our scholars continue to have support both at Starfish and at home.  Pictured below are two Starfish moms participating in the icebreaker!

Barbara, mom of Starfish Scholar Elian.

Paola, mom of Starfish Scholars Maria, Steve & Briggette.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ready for the Rain - Flor Renovation Updates

Two weeks ago we were able to make some great progress on the space lent to us in Flor de Bastión.  You might remember in July when we had a similar "minga" or work day to begin work on the space.  Since then we've using the space you see below, but we noticed a few necessary additions made more urgent when rainy season kicked into full gear these past few weeks.  

The "Maestro" hard at work!

Mixing the first batch of cement!
Luckily, we have a great group of dedicated scholars and parents who spent their Sunday doing their part to make sure we have a great place to continue our programs throughout the next 5 months of rainy season!
Who says this is man's work?  Not Betsy & Karina!!
David, one of our youngest and most enthusiastic participants!
On Sunday we had 3 main goals -
1) Finish the back wall of our classroom

Starfish dad, Aníbal, with Starfish Employee, Marcos.
2) Cement a trench/drain so that water that seeks in the through the sugar cane walls will filter out instead of into our classroom
Step 1 of the drain! 
Finished drain!
3) Clean up the area around outside of the classroom.

Students and parents alike helped clean up in the neighborhood surrounding Starfish.
Thanks to Starfish mom Juana for the great motivation!
We are proud to say that on Sunday we completed all 3 of these important tasks and that our space is now ready for the rain!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Noticias" (News) from our Employees!

We are about 6 weeks away from closing out another successful school year, due in large part to our 7 part-time employees who have gone above & beyond this year to help our students learn, as well as help develop Starfish programming!

Find out a little more about what they are all up to outside of Starfish...

Last week we welcomed Lissette to our team.  She is finishing up her second year at the state university in commercial engineering and has been a great addition to our Guasmo team!

Yuliana and Cynthia have been busy visiting all the universities here in Guayaquil in hopes that they will be able to study at the university level this coming school year, along with Starfish graduates, Betsabeth and Maria Belen!

Cynthia, Yuliana & Marcos at our Christmas party!
Marcos is finishing up the "Pre", which is sort of like a required prep-course for some colleges here in Ecuador.  He has an intensive schedule through February when he will finish so that he can begin his first year of college in May with the others!

Tyrone is in his last year at the state university.  In March he will finish classes and then he will have 3 months to work on & present his thesis!

Tyrone & Jasmin giving a presentation to their Refuerzo students!
Jasmin is finishing up her first year of college at the state university.  These past few months have been extra busy with an additional English course - but we are proud to report she is an excellent English student!

Since Karina joined our team in October she quickly gained the trust and respect of all of the 22 students she works with in the afternoon in Flor de Bastión.  Karina is also looking into possible enrollment in college for next year!

Karina with some of our youngest participants - Yanilexis, Betsy & Dayanna
We are so blessed to have these 7 wonderful individuals as constant support and role models for our scholars, THANK YOU!!!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Genesis & Betsabeth's Vacation

For the first time, Ecuadorian schools were required to give vacation between Christmas and New Year's, allowing students more time with their families for these important holiday!  Here, Betsabeth and Genesis share a little bit about their break from their studies...

Genesis & Bestabeth in 2012, their first year with Starfish!
"For Christmas Eve we got to spend time together.  It was a great thing because even though we didn't know each other before Starfish, we get along really well.  We did a lot of things like: We took pictures (but later they were erased), we ate dinner at Betsabeth's house, we hung out for a bit until after a lot of fooling around we decided to go for a walk.  We were with my cousin and we got to know her better.  We ate ice cream.  And the best part is that was had a really great time!"

Genesis helping with face painting at our Starfish Christmas party!

Betsabeth helping with face painting at our Starfish Christmas party!

"La noche del 24 de diciembre como ningún año pasamos juntas.  Fue algo estupendo porque a pesar de que no nos conocemos mucho, nos llevamos super que bien.  Hicimos muchas cosas como: Nos tomamos fotos, pero después se borraron, cenamos en la casa de Betsabeth, molestamos un rato hasta que después de mucha molestar decidimos ir a caminar un rato.  Estabamos con mi prima y nos conocimos más con mi prima.  Comimos helado.  Bueno, lo mejor es que la pasamos super que bien."

Here is the beautifully decorated blog entry they handed into me:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

In Ecuador, it is tradition to celebrate the New Year by burning an "Año Viejo" to get rid of all the bad from last year and move into the new year with positivity.  An año viejo can take many forms - often times it is a representation of something (good or bad) that was important in the last year.  In Guasmo, our students made Spongebob Squarepants.

In Flor, they made a star to represent Starfish.

In addition, we had an año viejo representation Kung Fu Panda and Sully from Monsters, Inc. made by some of the families...

...and Cristhian "Chucho" Benitez made by the "professionals" in the center of the city.  Chucho, a professional soccer player for the Ecuadorian national team passed away this past summer unexpectedly.  He was a fan favorite and missed by all.  Here are students pay tribute to him with these awesome pictures!

May your year also be filled with positivity, and many blessings.
Happy New Year!