Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lessons Learned in Ecuador

This week's post comes from Danny, who participated in this year's trip to Ecuador.

Having visited the Starfish Foundation in Guasmo and Flor de Bastion two years ago, going back to Ecuador with the rest of the crew from the U.S. was a good opportunity for me reconnect the great work going on and the development of the Starfish community. I was also lucky to have a stellar schedule of meals in homes, playing soccer, a talent show, professional development for the employees, and much more. After going on this trip, I’m excited to stay connected with Starfish, see more students graduate and watch the Starfish students and employees pursue their goals.

In line with another volunteer who posted a list of lessons learned, here is a list of 10 lessons learned during my visit. Lessons learned from trip to Ecuador:

1. Ecuadorian kids are way better at salsa dancing than American kids.

2. While taking spontaneous midday naps at various homes may not be culturally acceptable in the U.S., that kind of hospitality exists in the Starfish community.

3. The concept of ‘without lettuce’ is not always quickly understood by restaurants.

4. I take for granted environmental factors such as air quality and water quality that I experience every day in the U.S.

5. It’s important to give kids more ways to shine than just the classroom or the soccer field (The talent show was AWESOME! Also, shout out to one of my favorite TED talks.)

6. If you were worried that your love of selfies might not be acceptable during your visit to Guayaquil, don’t worry, you’ll fit right in.

7. Hospitality and financial security are not correlated, as demonstrated by the numerous desserts given to me solely out of good will.

8. Be kind to foreigners. I’m super grateful to people who were kind and patient with my poor Spanish while in Ecuador.

9. It is unfortunately still too common that financial barriers prevent some kids from pursuing their dreams or sometimes even thinking about pursuing their dreams.

10. The community that has developed in the Starfish Foundation is way greater than just some students receiving scholarships.

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