Friday, October 9, 2015

Friendship Across the Ocean

I can say that last week was the best week and fastest week of my life! The friendships and memories I have made during this short week will never be forgotten. All they way from discussing how to say nutella to going to Walmart with Shauna and Imogen for the first time. Not only did they learn that the portion sizes are huge here but they learned that Ursuline is not only a sister school but another home for them!

My favorite memory with them was picking them up from the airport and seeing them for the first time. Before they came to America I had skyped them so I had an idea of what they looked like, but I was still a little nervous. What if they thought I was weird? What if we did not know what to talk about? I remember seeing them turn the corner and just sprinting in their direction practically knocking them over. At that moment I knew that this was going to be the best week of my life. Once we got home they gave me loads of chocolate and biscuits(aka cookies). And as they would say it was very nice. I learned so much from Shauna and Imogen in one week and I can't wait to got to England and visit them. I an grateful to have an amazing friendship with people that live across the ocean.

-Abby England, '16

True Sisters Will Never Be Drawn Apart

It amazes me how close I have become to girls I have only known for a week, it’s absolutely crazy!  As all of the host students were waiting at the airport with our signs that we made for our Brentwood arrivals, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown…...I was freaking out!!!!  I was so nervous about having two random girls that I had never met in person, although I had been texting them for three months prior, stay at my house for a whole week!!!  I literally thought I was going to cry I was so nervous, and I was terrified for the moment when I would first see them, should I hug them, shake hands?  To be completely honest, I was a nervous wreck.  Now, when I think back to that very first day, I was absolutely nuts, because when it was time for them to leave I was crying because I wanted them to stay, sad that they could not have stayed for two weeks, and I felt like I had known them my whole life.  This might sound crazy, but it is the absolute truth, the global education program at Ursuline Academy in St. Louis has changed my life.

Me and my sister, Katrina, who is a senior, became friends with our England girls, Mikki and Molly, right away.  They both came running up to hug us when they first saw us holding their signs at the airport.  I will never forget that moment, especially because it made all my nerves fly away.  We did many things during that week that bonded us together as true sisters, including getting our nails done for homecoming together, bringing them to a movie theater, going to an American football game, and eating dinner at ballpark village.  However, the most fun part of having them stay with us was the little things, like the late night chatting and laughing until our stomachs hurt, our intense ping pong tournaments, our daily selfies in the car on the way to school, figuring out the different words that they use, hearing their American accents, and our laughter at the most random of things.  I always tell myself to cherish the moment, because soon it will be a memory and you will wish that you had it back, and no matter how “cringy” it might sound, that is my motto that I will always follow.  I always told Mikki and Molly to cherish the moment, and by the end of the trip, they were saying it to me.  There were two moments in particular that I will remember for ever.  Mikki and Molly gave us gifts on the night before they were going back home, which were I love London sweatshirts, necklaces, and the most meaningful part….little notes written from the heart.  In her note, Mikki said: I really have had such a wonderful experience and it is all down to you and your family who I can honestly say I love so much!  This made me burst into tears, because I honestly love her so much, and to here Mikki say that made my heart so happy.  That night, the night before they left, we stayed at home, watching movies, chilling, playing ping pong, jamming to our favorite tunes, eating, laughing, and my favorite part….stargazing.  Mikki, Molly, Katrina (my sister), and I took pillows and blankets outside and laid down on the concrete pad for almost an hour just watching the stars from my house which sits in the middle of the woods.  Even though we were not even talking to each other, it was by far the best moment of the trip, and I was silently crying as we looked up at the sky, because I did not want my sisters to leave.  I was so thankful to be able to meet these two girls, and I am truly blessed that Mikki and Molly are now a part of my life.  I know for sure that I cherished every moment of their visit to St. Louis, and I am sure that they did too.  They may live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, but Mikki and Molly, Katrina and I are friends forever, never apart… maybe in distance, but never at heart.  Until I see you again Mikki and Molly!  I love you so much.

-Erica Rebholz, '17

Sharing Ursuline Sisterhood

Wow, this past week has been such a whirlwind of emotions!  From the moment we saw each other at the airport, it seemed like we already knew each other because we had been talking the whole summer.  We had an instant connection and I was looking forward to a great week with them.  

Ellie and Holly fit right in.  On Monday, we went to my tennis match straight from the airport.  They both love to play tennis, but they haven’t watched it like that before.  One thing that they absolutely loved while here in America was shopping!  We went to the mall three different times to buy things.  They love Vineyard Vines since they don’t have that back at home and they also loved shopping at Kate Spade.  Friday night we went to Ballpark Village and we got to go up on the rooftop deck which is something I know they will never forget.  Then, we went to the SLUH football game...they loved sitting on the bleachers!   Something else that we did with the girls on Saturday was go to the pumpkin patch.  They were so amazed at how big the pumpkins were and that there were so many of them all in one place.  Later that day, we got our nails done.  They were fascinated by the massage chairs and wanted to stay in there forever!  As Saturday night approached, they got more and more excited, and I was excited for them! Homecoming this year is one I definitely won’t forget because I got to spend it with two of the best people from England.  While driving home from school on Friday, I asked Ellie and Holly if they liked Ariana Grande...and of course, they answered yes.  My question followed with, “Well, do you want to go to her concert with me on Sunday?”  Their reaction to this was priceless.  They almost cried from excitement.  So, after Fall Fest, we went to the Ariana Grande concert.  They were amazed that we were actually there, seeing her live on stage.  Saying goodbye to people you only met a week ago may not seem that hard to do to some people, but for me, it was like saying goodbye to people I have known my whole life.  I never wanted them to leave, but I look forward to seeing them over in England soon!  I am so blessed to be a part of a school that has sister schools around the world, and even though we live in different countries, we still share the same Ursuline sisterhood.
-Meg Dunn, '17

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 3, 2015

IMG_1766.PNGIMG_1769.PNGSo far the girls have been awesome! But I’m so tired, but it’s a good kind of tired.This morning we went to the zoo. According to Danielle and Caragh, the zoo in London isn’t much to look at or go to. They don’t have nearly as many animals there as we do here. The first place we went to was to go see the elephants. It was chillier morning, so I was worried there would be no elephants out. But there were four! One of them was a baby too! We then rode the train to see sting-ray exhibit, the penguin house, the new polar bear exhibit, as well as the sea lion show. After leaving the zoo, we stopped off at Target for some goodies. The girls got some free slushies from the little food place because they were British. We then headed home for a rest before people came over to get ready for the dance! My friend Taryn came over, then Amanda and her students Ellie and Deanne, then Katrina and Erica and their students Molly and Mikki. So there were a lot of girls in my house! Danielle is a make-up magician, so she helped people with their make-up for the rock and roll themed dance. Everyone dressed up in black, leather, and gold. We took a lot of pictures before we left. The dance was a great time! Everyone had fun. Afterwards we went to Katrina and Erica’s house for a sleep-over where the girls got their first taste of s’mores! It was an awesome night and the best way to spend my last homecoming dance.


-Megan Rechtien, '16

My Two New Best Friends

This week has been unreal, with my two new best friends there is nothing that could have made this better. Today we went to the St. Louis zoo, and bread co! The girls loved seeing all of the animals especially the elephants since the zoo in England doesn't have any elephants. Also they love how I drive us everywhere, compared to how they take a lot of public transportation (trains and buses). At bread co they loved the bread bowls, I was trying to explain to them how the soup didn't leak through the bread but they just had to wait and see, and they loved it!

Today I took my two girls and two of the other students to get our nails done after school! All of the girls loved it and we had time to get to know each other a little more! After we all got our nails done we went to Party City. The girls thought it was so cool that there was a party store and it had red solo cups (they don’t have those). We tried on different costumes, hats, and glasses. After singing and dancing around the store, we all loaded up and went to the long awaited Target. There’s no Target in England so we did a little damage to their bank accounts there. The girls bought tons of makeup, candy, clothes, ranch dressing, and about 15 EOS lip balms. That night we went home to a dinner of Fettuccine Alfredo, and enjoyed some Fro Yo after dinner! Also the whole day, Ellie was teaching me a liverpool accent, “I’m from liverpool”

-Amanda Worland, '16

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Until You Have to Say Goodbye

They say time flies by when you’re having fun. You don’t realize it until you have to say goodbye. Over this past week I have gotten the opportunity of a lifetime. I became friends with the two sweetest girls, Lauren and Charlotte. We asked them Monday morning what their top three favorite things were that they did while in St. Louis. They responded; the high school football game, the view from the arch, and homecoming. I loved taking Charlotte and Lauren to the football game on Friday night because it was something they had never experienced. We are all buzzing the whole night! Homecoming this year was one of the best yet. I loved being able to share with Lauren and Charlotte what our homecoming dance is like and we all had a great time dancing and taking fun pictures together! The girls liked going up in the arch to see what St. Louis was about. They loved the view especially being able to see Busch Stadium.

My top three favorite things that we did while the girls were in St. Louis were; just simply hanging
out and getting to know one another, homecoming, and our car jam sessions. Some of my best memories are talking about how we say different words for different things and arguing about who is right. We would always end up in laughter and ended up using each other's words. Homecoming was such a cool experience to share with Char and Lau because we got to have fun and dance all night together. We bonded over our mutual taste in music over this past week. Each time we rode together in the car we plugged in our phones and sang as loudly as we could to our new favorite songs. I had the most amazing time this week with two of my new best friends. The only thing I would change would be to lengthen the trip because I am already missing my girls! I can’t wait until I can go visit them in England!! xx

-Rebecca Adams ‘17

So far but yet so close

From the moment I learned I was selected to host, I was excited to meet new friends. Their different way of life was very interesting to me. I wanted to share what life was like at in the U.S. but also learn their ways. I connected immediately with Shannon and Harriet. We emailed, FaceTimed and chatted often. We shared out backgrounds, school, and likes and dislikes. During their stay we tried new and different things like eating at Kobe Steakhouse, BBQ, and Mexican. We went to Target, Walmart, and the Mall, all places that they didn't have and were amazed by. It was funny how they reacted to little things like how cheap chapstick was here compared to there. We went to a high school football game, homecoming, fall fest and many more these were all new and fun experiences for them. Our bonded friendship grew and we became very close.After they left I realized we weren't very different after all. I had such a great time meeting now people and making new friends. I am already planing a visit to Essex, London!

-Anna Wurtsbaugh, '16

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Friends For Life

How can I even begin to describe what a wonderful time I have had with my two best friends from Brentwood England? The answer is simple. I cannot, but I will do my best. Waiting today at the airport with Mikki and Molly, along with all the other Brentwood students and their hosts, everything that has happened in the past week flashed before my eyes. All the comparing of cultures, the long late night talks, and the laughter that makes your stomach ache because you are laughing so hard, suddenly condensed into one overwhelming realization that they are leaving in a few minutes and you can only get so many more hugs in before they depart. I know it sounds really sad and I am literally crying my eyes out right now, but I want to share how wonderful this experience has been for me.

A particular favorite moment of mine was one night on Wednesday the 30th when Mikki, Molly, Erica (my sister), and I were all laying around in Mikki and Molly’s bedroom after dinner at the country club. It was around 10:00 pm so we were all pretty slap happy from the long day, but that did not keep us from staying up to laugh and talk and just enjoy each others’ company. We laughed so hard that night my abs still hurt. Mikki’s attempts at an American accent still make me laugh when I watch the video and all of our silly comments just bring a smile to my face. It is like we were meant to be together, meant to make each other laugh.

Hosting these two amazing young women from England has been one of the best experiences in my
short, 17 year old, life. Honestly I would not trade anything in the world for this past week. On Sunday night, their last night in our house, Mikki and Molly gave us gifts and cards. In her card Mikki said, “Love ya like a sister and feel like we are best friends already!” Now imagine tears streaming down my cheeks and Mikki and Molly promptly hugging me to death in an attempt to stop me from crying. They are truly two of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know and I sincerely hope the Global Education program at Ursuline continues to bring people like us together. In one of my last hugs with Molly she whispered in my ear, “Don’t you ever change, Katrina. Stay this way forever.” For me, this put the whole week in perspective. Yes we were born in completely different parts of the world, but distance and diversity is not strong enough to prevent true friendship from blooming.

-Katrina Rebholz ‘16

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Connections

Waiting at the airport with the posters in my hands, my nerves were running wild. I was so anxious for the Brentwood girls to round the corner, I was 'buzzing' as they would say. Once I spotted my two students, Charlotte and Lauren, I freaked out and ran towards them. Although the neon signs and screams seem to have overwhelmed the England girls, our first hug was priceless! It was so wonderful to see Charlotte and Lauren in person and (most importantly) to hear their accents! Of course the first thing I asked each other was, "How funny do we sound?" The car ride home was full of questions and good vibes. Bonding over our common likes, like Taylor Swift, and our differences, like driving on the opposite sides of the road, were just the start to our friendship.

After showing them around the house and giving them time to settle into their rooms, Char and Lau came down with the sweetest gifts for Reba and I. London sweat-shirts, postcards, and tea cups were just a few of the many gifts I was given. We made them chili and noodles and talked about more differences and their home. They were tired so we all went to bed, excited for their first day on campus and their presentation. I cannot wait to continue spending time with my two newest friends! They are just so 'stinking cute'! Bring on the rest of the week, more inside jokes, bonding moments, and fun times are for sure coming our way! So happy to have this experience with these lovely girls!

-Caroline Adams '16

Brentwood England Visitors Arrive at UA!

On Monday Ursuline St. Louis hosts eagerly awaited the arrival of the Ursuline visitors from Brentwood England at the airport. After a smooth journey over to our side of the pond, the visitors were greeted with handmade signs and smiling faces.
Ursuline St. Louis and Brentwood students at the airport

The excitement was in the air on Tuesday as the school greeted our dear guests for the week. Student ambassadors lead the group on a tour. Afterwards, the Brentwood group came up to the art room to create screen printed bags aided by some of our art students.

Art students help with screen printing

A finished bag

The whole school got to enjoy a presentation that the Brentwood students carefully prepared for us. We viewed a video the students made of their school, we saw some similarities and differences. The students are divided into different houses which are run by a system somewhat like our student council, but across grade levels. We also exchanged performances of our school prayers and songs along with cheers. The energy in the auditorium was very high with lots of enthusiasm from both groups. I could sense the strong bond of our common Ursuline connection, and suddenly it felt more like family coming to visit rather than strangers. How powerful!

Host sisters and visitors together after the presentation
In the evening the host families and visitors gathered together in the UA Cafe for a Welcome BBQ. We are excited to see what the rest of the week brings. Look forward to blog posts written by host students shortly.
A host family with two Brentwood students at the BBQ

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hello, Sydney!

We knew Sydney would be great, but we were surprised at the size and pace of this beautiful city. Our commute from the airport to the hotel turned out to be a little more complicated than we expected. After three train transfers with luggage in hand we finally arrived at our hotel and were thrilled with the location! Not only was the location great, but we were greeted by a very friendly staff, which we are quickly learning is the Australian way. We are a three- minute walk from Darling Harbor so we had to check it out right away. You wouldn’t believe all the restaurants along the harbor walk!

The locals suggested that we check out Paddy’s Market so we just had to do it. The market was filled
with all kinds of souvenirs and food. It made Soulard Market look very small. We both agreed that this would be a must-see for the girls and they would probably want to spend hours there. It was a beautiful, sunny, winter day so we decided to walk around the Chinese Garden. This was a nice relaxing break from the busy city life. We ended the day at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the evening youth Mass. We thought the girls might enjoy this.

We saw these bright red double decker buses
going around the city so we decided to do a little research. They were sight seeing buses that took tourists all over Sydney. We bought tickets and throughout the day we had easy transportation and great photo opps. This was also a great way for us to take inventory of all the attractions and decide what the girls might enjoy. One of the routes included an excursion to Bondi Beach. At this point we were willing to do anything to get warm! There was no doubt in our minds that the girls would enjoy watching the many surfers in the water. When our tour ended it was clear to us that it was really a RUSH hour as we noticed hundreds of people waiting to get on buses.

We knew our time here in Sydney was limited so we decided to split up for a little bit. While Mrs.
Mullen went on the Harbor Bridge climb, Mr. Smith had to entertain himself for three and a half hours. The bridge climb was a great experience and Mrs. Mullen was so glad that she did it. It was exhilarating to see the entire city from such heights. Mr. Smith decided to tour the Sydney Opera House, but sadly they weren’t holding any auditions. Once we met up once again it was time to eat and the server convinced us to try the local delicacy. And so we thought about the saying “When in Rome…” and we looked at each other and said “When in Australia…” And so….we ate kangaroo pizza. We agreed that we won’t be requesting it in the UA cafeteria, but it was a good local experience. Our night ended with great shopping.

As it turned out our trip on the big red bus included a second day that was a tour on the water. We
made several stops throughout Sydney Harbor, but the highlight was Watson’s Bay. Doyle’s Restaurant came highly recommended. If you like seafood, this is the place for you. You should have seen Mr. Smith’s face while Mrs. Mullen was peeling off the shrimp heads and enjoying every bite of it. Just when we thought we couldn’t take any more great pictures, we walked up a path to some beautiful views of the cliffs on the Ocean.

This trip has been better than we could have ever
imagined. Time and again we commented to each other about how friendly, hospitable and genuinely happy everyone seems here. We have some great ideas for activities with the students and enjoyed our visit with our new friends at St. Ursula’s college. We can’t wait to bring our students here next time. The Australians have taught us well. Our flight home is a bit delayed and we know there is a great deal of work to be done to start the school year on Monday, but both of us looked at each other and said, “No worries.”
-Mike Smith and Joni Mullen

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Next stop- Brisbane

Just when we thought we had seen it all, we began another exciting adventure. While Melbourne reminded us of a European city, Brisbane took on more of a cosmopolitan feel similar to that of New York or Chicago. We picked the perfect time to walk down to the river. There were joggers, bicyclists, walkers, skateboarders, and many more active people. There was a beautiful bridge with purple lights. This was the perfect photo opportunity that we knew the girls would just love. The key was trying to take pictures without crashing into someone, especially since the other side of the sidewalk is the favored one. We had to hurry since the sunset comes much faster in the winter. We left there while it was dark and walked to find a Thai restaurant that was recommended by our new friends from St. Ursula’s. We walked into what we found out was the wrong restaurant so Mr. Smith was “thrilled” when we got up and left. The correct restaurant was just on the next block. The food turned out to be much spicier than we thought, but it didn’t matter because we were surrounded by these wonderful, friendly people once again along with plenty of water.

The next day started with a walk down by the river to catch a ferry that was headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Little did we know that we were about to see over a hundred koalas and kangaroos throughout the park. The highlights included holding the koalas and feeding the kangaroos. Thankfully the koala cooperated because the guide told us that she was a cranky old lady and it was getting towards the end of her shift. The kangaroos were all resting but we decided to go over towards them anyway. We shook the bags of food and one of them walked our way and she was hungry! Everything was fine and dandy until a jeep drove by and all the kangaroos jumped up at once. We froze for a moment and wondered if we were going to be part of the stampede. It was so spectacular and scary at the same time. That could only happen in Australia! We had a great day and our fun concluded with a ride on the South Bank ferris wheel giving us beautiful views of Brisbane at night.

No trip to Brisbane is complete without an expedition to the Gold Coast. An hour-long train ride followed by a bus transfer that took us to one of the most beautiful beaches that we had ever seen. There were plenty of great restaurants and stores for shopping. We saw surfers and tourists getting surfing lessons and there was a class of high school-age girls learning to surf. Not one of them actually got up on the board, but they were having a great time. No wonder it was called Surfers’ Paradise. We still can’t get over how friendly everyone is here. We got on the bus to head back to the train station and the bus driver just let us get on for free. It must have been our accent.

-Mike Smith and Joni Mullen

Friday, August 7, 2015

Making Connections

We were picked up from our apartment by Ann Marie and we headed straight to St. Ursula’s College. We were so excited to finally visit our sister school. It’s amazing how we can be almost 10,000 miles away from home and yet feel right at home as soon as we walked through those doors. We were greeted and embraced as though they had been waiting a long time for us Americans. The charism and spirit of St. Angela is very evident here. We walked through the halls and everyone greeted us with smiles and hellos along the way. We were served a delicious breakfast in the boarders’ cafeteria and we were quite impressed.

After we ate breakfast we were led around the school by Molly, a junior (or “year -11” student in Australia). She took us around and gave us a great perspective of what it would be like for a student at St. Ursula’s College. We went into classrooms and the students and teachers were so warm and welcoming. They stopped and let us talk with them and take pictures. They immediately knew that we were from America because of our accent and yet we still feel as though they are the ones who have the accent. We both felt as though we were back at home at Ursuline because in so many ways the students reminded us of our own. We heard some music over the intercom and then it was time for tea.

The students and teachers all took a 20-minute break from classes and had snacks while catching up with each other. We were pleasantly surprised to see that nachos were available during tea time. For a moment, we thought we were back in St. Louis. The students all found places to go outside. The co-workers all gathered together in a lovely space for snacks and tea or coffee. We discovered “white tea” (hot tea with milk) and now we must have it with every meal. After tea time we left the school and toured Toowoomba with Karen, the global education coordinator. We went to the Queens Garden and walked around to see the beautiful palm trees and various flowers which were getting ready to bloom in September. We stopped by an art gallery which had art by aboriginal artists. The artwork was quite colorful and unique. Each piece had its own story. The manager Rosie was very big on us experiencing the art through touch as well as sight. We sensed her enthusiasm and passion from the moment we walked in to the gallery. After that we went to lunch at Picnic Point which had spectacular views looking down from the range. God blessed us with a beautiful clear sky.

We then took a drive to the “Uni” a.k.a. University to see higher education in Australia. Our night ended with a journey in the St. Ursula’s van to Morangadan for dinner. We were pleasantly surprised that our dinner included an evening with some Japanese co-workers from St. Ursula in Hachinohe, Japan. Even though there was a language barrier our common Ursuline connection combined with the massive quantity of food on each plate soon brought laughter and smiles among us. Suddenly the phrase “build community wherever you go” became very real for us.

Our next day at St. Ursula’s began with Ann Marie, the principal, picking us up again. (Neither one of us has completely adjusted to driving on the other side of the street, let alone driving on the other side of the car.) She has gone above and beyond making us feel welcome. Although she was out late with us last night, she was there bright and early this morning. She brought us to school and we were once again embraced by the warm and friendly atmosphere. We are so impressed with how friendly everyone seems to be in this country. People go out of their way to help us wherever we go. We were invited to be part of the year-11 retreat in their chapel. It was amazing to witness the similarities in our students and their retreat experience. The retreat leader was dynamic and we were impressed with how engaged the students were. After the morning of the retreat we had tea time and conversation with the Principal once again. After finishing our “white tea” we exchanged some gifts and we were sad to say good-bye, but we know that we never really say good-bye. Ann Marie drove us to the bus station and we parted ways. Even though we were together for just 48 short hours we felt such a strong connection to our mission and our new friends at St. Ursula’s College. We continued our journey to our next stop of Brisbane.

-Mike Smith and Joni Mullen

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Scenic Route

Our next day began with a walk to the spectacular Victoria Market. We shopped around and chatted with a variety of vendors. Everyone here is so friendly and we left there with a map in our hands which is pretty typical for us on the streets. A couple stopped us and asked if we needed any help finding anything. We chatted about finding an arcade and somewhere to eat, and they mentioned going to a café at the Block Arcade. It turned out that we picked a perfect place to eat because we told the waiter we needed to get to the airport in an hour. He was very accommodating by bringing our food out rather quickly. Usually we order and wait a bit and they never rush us even if others are waiting for a table. The Australians never bring our bill unless we ask first. We have relaxing meals and never feel the need to rush. We left our hotel for the airport and said good-bye to Melbourne. It was sad to leave such a beautiful city, but we were excited to see what our next city would have in store. We had a two-hour flight to Brisbane and stayed in a nearby hotel. We went to sleep early to prepare ourselves for the next day in Toowoomba.

The next morning we were excited to get picked up by Ann Marie Pawsey, the Principal of St. Ursula’s College. She was so friendly and hospitable all along our journey. She decided to take us along the scenic route through the beautiful Gold Coast. The views were absolutely breathtaking. We had lunch at the surfers’ club. She said there are normally many surfers in the water, but that was not the case today. We had a two-hour drive to Toowoomba and enjoyed our conversation along the way. We are already discovering our common Ursuline connections. As soon as we arrived in Toowoomba Ann Marie drove us around St. Ursula’s College. We can’t wait to meet the students and co-workers tomorrow. After we parted we decided to try a Turkish restaurant which she recommended. This was the first Turkish experience for both of us and of course the waitress was friendly and explained everything. We enjoyed the food and the ambiance. The Australian accent definitely added to the experience, but they keep telling us that we’re the ones with the accent!

-Mike Smith and Joni Mullen

Sunday, August 2, 2015

First days in Australia

We arrived in Melbourne, Australia at 7:30am and we didn’t know what wonderful adventures were in store for us. After flying for 21 hours to get here, we decided it was best to stay awake and begin researching ideas in this beautiful city. We headed straight to the Melbourne Visitors’ Center and found that to be extremely helpful. We took the City Circle Tram all around the city and it was awesome. The temperature was definitely chilly as it is winter here. We walked all around and discovered China Town and had lunch there. We also went to the National Gallery of Victoria to explore some art. We visited the Immigration Museum and the Melbourne Aquarium. We spent some time shopping and speaking with a variety of Australians to find out what would be of interest to high school students. The people here are so friendly and helpful. We are loving their accents, although they insist that we are the ones with the accent. After a long day of exploring we came back to the Victoria Hotel located in the heart of the city.

Our second day in Melbourne included a trip to Phillip Island. Our charismatic Australian tour guide, Doug, picked us up first thing in the morning and we ventured on a short journey to the National Wildlife Park. We visited a Trout Farm where we ate lunch that included some freshly caught trout and we walked around the grounds to taste some natural plants and spices. We then went to the Koala Conservation Center and saw many koalas sleeping up in the trees. From there our adventure continued to a kangaroo sanctuary where there were dozens of kangaroos in their natural habitat. The best part was the Penguin Parade at dusk where there were literally hundreds of penguins within arm’s reach. That was truly amazing! When we returned from Phillip Island, we went for some Greek salads at a Greek restaurant.

The next morning started with an outdoor breakfast under the heaters at an outdoor cafe near the city arcades. There are many “arcades” that are filled with cafes and shops. The cappuccino was much better than any Starbucks! From there we completed a walking tour of many other arcades. There is so much great shopping in Melbourne. The chocolate at Haigh’s Chocolates was unlike any other chocolate in the U.S. After that we walked all along the Yarra River and saw beautiful views of the city. We ended up at the Eureka Tower and took the “lift” to the 88th floor where we had spectacular views of the city. We took a few selfies and pictures, but none of the pictures did any justice to the incredible view, and as the Australians would say “no worries”. We ran into a group of girls from a Catholic high school at the top of the tower, and talked with them about other ideas for our students. We ended our day of adventure with Mass at the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We were able to participate in the Mass because there was no language barrier. We went to Lygon Street for some Italian food for dinner because we are trying to have a variety of food options.

-Mike Smith and Joni Mullen

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Brazil 2015 Photo Slide Show

Enjoy a slide show of captured moments from the Brazil Trip 2015

Global Ursuline Family

Having just completed my first year at Ursuline, I am still learning about the school community. What I will take away from this trip to Piedade is a greater sense of the Ursuline global family. From the common foundation of our schools we have fostered a connection that continues to grow. Family is exactly the word to describe the way I felt connected to the Piedade school community. What a powerful thought considering we got into a plane (well, three)  and a day later arrived in the southern hemisphere where they are currently experiencing late fall, speak a different language and have differing cultural norms.

On our last night I made an observation during dinner that at restaurants there doesn't appear to be a lot of turnover at a table during an evening. The table that you choose is likely to only be occupied by you for that night as time is slowed down for conversation and a relaxed enjoyment of the meal.  Here I got to know more about the teachers that took us out for dinner as well as some of the host families. Through a combination of English and Portuguese, and sometimes hand gestures for additional clarification of meaning, we discovered more about each other. What a rare and amazing treat it was to look through the window at life in Ilheus, Bahia Brazil!

Returning to St. Louis now, I bring ideas for sharing the experience with the school community, and within my own classroom. Most important, perhaps, is the global Ursuline family exprience that will continue to grow and connect us across oceans, continents and hemispheres.