Power of ONE: What baseball, Barcelona and business school have in common

Former sponsored kid from Ecuador shows off his master’s degree.

CI grad Carlos Mancheno graduated from Barcelona-based EAE Business School last year.

Carlos Mancheno is a CI grad whose love of baseball has taken him far beyond his home in Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Stay tuned for an upcoming Q&A with Carlos about his illustrious baseball career!)

He just completed his master’s degree in international business and tourism from EAE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Having traveled the world in previous years, Carlos knew that leaving Ecuador for graduate school would give him an extra edge in his professional career. He’s currently working in the area of global business and “trying to take the most out of every experience in life.” We caught up with Carlos to learn more and find out what the future holds for him.

When did you enter the sponsorship program?

My mother enrolled me when I was 6 years old — the same year I started playing baseball.

What do you remember most about sponsorship?

I have very clear memories about all the things I got from CI, from school materials, the library, health assistance (nutrition, dentist and doctor) and house items such as furniture, dishes, bowls, even spoons. I also remember all the activities they used to organize for us sponsored kids.

Carlos in his annual photo from 2001.

Here’s Carlos at 15 years old in his CI annual photo.

How did sponsorship most help your family?

Every year when I started school, CI gave me shoes, cloth to make the school uniform (my mum used to make it), school notebooks and other materials. This help was very significant for my parents.

Can you tell us about your family?

There are four of us: mum Fulvia, dad Rafael, my sister, Katy, and I. Unfortunately, my dad lost his job when I was about 5. My mum started university (for medicine), and she decided to quit to look after us 24/7. So, my mum enrolled me in the program when we started to struggle at home. The country started to collapse economically and, sadly, my family was directly affected.

My mum learned to sew clothes and started a business. That way, she could look after us and help at least a bit with our finances.

What programs did you participate in?

Niños Agentes de Cambio (Children Agents of Change) had essentially the same objective that Sports for Development has nowadays. The difference was that there were no sports activities. This was more about organizing the majority of the kids (older than 9 years) to go every Saturday to the nearest CI community center. We used to do several activities to develop our values, such as teamwork, leadership, respect and many other activities.

Carlos poses with two Ecuadorian kids at a food festival

Carlos put the leadership skills he learned through CI to good use following his graduation. For example, while working at the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador, he organized a food festival for kids in Guayaquil.

The program was supposed to end once we became teenagers, but the great result was that we didn’t want it to stop, so we started a new program (with CI’s agreement): CINFO Juvenil (Youth Info Center). We started teaching and coaching other kids who were just starting the NAC program. We organized their activities and kept helping and contributing as agents of change.

What was your favorite thing about sponsorship?

The feeling of being an active member of the program. It was not just about receiving. I really enjoyed the fact that I was also giving something back.

Carlos speaks with a young kid as they walk down a road in Ecuador

With the Amazon rainforest in the background, Carlos walks with Joe, a young boy enrolled in a program similar to CI. Carlos served for two years as a mentor to him and other kids. Photo taken in October 2012.

In what surprising way did being involved with CI change your life?

Coming from a tough neighborhood is really difficult. Having all kinds of temptations around the corner from my house is not an easy thing to avoid at a certain age. But my parents always encouraged me and instilled good values, and CI provided the chance to keep myself away from those types of things.

But the most important thing I received from CI is something I still have — this feeling of helping others, of being part of a change.
What did you do after graduating from the CI sponsorship program?

I traveled with an Ecuadorian Baseball Federation national team when I was 17. The next year, I was invited to a baseball academy in the U.S., but my visa was denied for economic reasons and because of the language barrier.

CI grad Carlos coaching young kids in the U.K.

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While studying English in London, Carlos coached baseball every weekend for the Essex Arrows Baseball Club. “I was really happy teaching those kids,” he says, “and, at the same time, it kept me playing for a bit more.”

Right away, I said to myself: “I cannot change the fact that I was born in an economically poor family, but I can change that I don’t speak English.” So I got a scholarship from the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador and went to the United Kingdom for a language program. I stayed in London for four years, playing and coaching baseball, studying English and working at Madame Tussauds museum.

After returning to Ecuador, the U.S. Embassy hired me as a translator for the American National Baseball Team. My mentor, Mike Spiers, helped me land a spot as a pitcher for Northeastern State University in Miami, Oklahoma.

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What do you hope to do with your degree now? What is your dream job?

I would like to be able to be economically independent. That way I can help others. My dream job would be to work helping to improve and develop the most-needy societies.

Are you planning to go back to Guayaquil to work or stay abroad?

I would like to get back to my country; I love it there. But I feel that, right now, I belong in Barcelona. I would be more than happy to get back to Ecuador in maybe five years once I have reached the experience and have the tools to develop personal projects and be able to help others.

Carlos speaks with a local community about developing tourism

Carlos was a tourism development professional in 2012 when he traveled to the Amazon rainforest to help local communities develop tourism there. Here, he speaks with members from the Mushullakta community.

What does the phrase “unleashing the power of (every)ONE” mean to you?

Being raised in a team sport, I clearly understand how important it is to work together to reach our objectives and goals. Everyone has the capacity to contribute with anything in our lives. As with sports, we must make sure we all do our jobs the best we can, take care of the little things and be diligent.

We might not be able to change the whole world in one snap of our fingers, but we definitely can contribute through small changes. Small changes will make the difference!

I know I can’t change all of society, but I can contribute my best effort for the most needy. That’s why I would like to help implement a sports project — not a traditional project to make kids sports machines.

Ecuador national baseball team photo in 2011.

Carlos (middle row, fourth from left) with the Ecuadorian National Team during the 2011 South American Tournament.

I would like to share all the values I have gotten as an athlete. Sports are just the vehicle for learning — the real goal would be to help kids confront their lives, whether they become big sports superstars or they dedicate themselves to other activities.

You’ve got to believe that you belong.

Carlos learned important values and life skills through sports. See how CI is offering the same training to sponsored kids!

Learn about Sports for Development

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