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Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy New School Year & Welcome Pietra!

Today we begin the 2014-15 School Year and there is much excitement and energy in the school. We'd like to extend a special welcome to our exchange student, Pietra S. who is going to be with us this semester. Pietra is from Telemaco Borba in the Brazilian state of Parana. She is 15 years old. This is the first time that Pietra has been in Texas but she lived in California last semester and she has visited many other US States with her parents. Pietra tells us that she is looking forward to her time at UA, to perfecting her English and also to welcoming her fellow Brazilians when they come from our sister school next month. She already likes many things about UA especially the "nice and helpful" girls. Pietra's favorite American food is "cheeseburgers."  Pietra misses her family and her pets (2 dogs and 3 turtles) in Brazil but she is very happy to be a student at Ursuline Dallas. Welcome Pietra!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Brazil 2014 Video

Hello from Dallas where our Brazil delegation continues to treasure so many happy memories from our time at Colegio Santa Ursula. Below you will find a link to a video of our cultural and educational exchange in Brazil. It is a beautiful testament to the joyfulness and universality of the Ursuline spirit. Thank you to Gabriel and Rafael from Colegio Santa Ursula for your hard work on this video - We love and miss you and are waiting for you in Dallas!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reflections on Brazil

And, we're back. Yes, our Brazil delegation is now home in Dallas and is already preparing for the school year ahead. Still, our time in Brazil is still very much in our minds and hearts. Before we left Brazil, our students filled out an evaluation of the exchange. Here is a glimpse into what they had to say:

1) In a few words, how would you describe your time in Brazil?

- the experience of a lifetime
- Amazing and life-changing - I have found a part of myself that I never knew that I had
- unforgettable, inspiring, breath-taking, exciting
- extraordinary - the happiest, most lovable, positive and beautiful place and experience
- unique, joyful, eco-friendly, adventurous , such a blast
- better than anything I could have anticipated or imagined

2) Tell us about your host family

- so kind, they really took the time to get to know me
- they included me in everything
- incredible, they made a huge effort to communicate with me
- so welcoming and nice
- I love them so much and will miss them with all my heart
- the perfect match for me

3) How did you feel about the SERVIAM / Social work experience ?

- I saw a SERVIAM presence in Sonia and her bravery and love has helped me to realize who I should aim to become..
- The work we did took my SERVIAM to a whole other level... I had never been exposed to something like that before and it showed me how thankful I need to be for the things God has blessed me with ...
- I hope we made their days and lives just a little brighter
- They (the volunteers) were completely selfless in their care and love
- It was very important for me... I am involved with Special Olympics in Texas so I feel very connected to children with special needs.. I felt "at home" .. SERVIAM is in the heart of the nurses 

In addition to the comments above, our students wrote volumes about how much they loved the food, scenery and, most of all, the people of Brazil. We are all missing our happy days in Brazil but now we are turning our attention to receiving our Brazilian friends in Dallas this September. We cannot wait to see you again!! Thank you for a wonderful experience !!!

A little look back :

Monday, August 11, 2014

Parque Das Aves

Our Brazil delegation had a final thrilling encounter with nature on our last morning, yesterday, in Brazil. We visited the "Parque das aves" (or "Bird Park") at Iguassu Falls. The park is a magnificent facility where humans can interact with all sorts of  birds in their natural environment. In many cases, people actually walk into the giant cages which house the birds. The park is a colorful place which surprised and delighted our students with the diversity of plants, birds and other animals. It was the perfect ending for our magnificent journey through Brazil.

Mass in Brazil

So, on our last evening in Brazil, our Brazil delegates headed to Mass in true "St. Angela" style. We attend Mass at a local parish church named for Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was a lovely Mass except for a rather unfortunate moment when a large bird flew in and crashed into a window (Ouch).

The parishioners noticed that we were a visiting group from the USA and Father Anderson gave us a special welcome. He was nice enough to give us a personal welcome after Mass and to pose for a picture with the group. One special note - Sunday was Father's Day in Brazil so there was a special blessing for fathers. And  because he wanted to be with his father, Wilson's son, Julio, joined our group for Mass (you recall that Wilson is our fantastic guide in Iguassu). Mass was a great way to end (almost) our trip and to give thanks foe the awesome experience we have had these last two weeks.


Fr. Anderson

Fathers' Day Blessing

Group pic with Fr. Anderson & Julio! 

Julio with his dad and his uncle 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Itaipu Dam

Today our day began with a visit to the Itaipu dam. The Itaipu dam is a very important hydroelectric dam located here in Iguassu on the Parana river. It is a bi-national project, owned and run jointly by Paraguay and Brazil. The dam is absolutely massive and it took over a decade to complete the construction. Itaipu opened in 1984 and today is one of the seven modern wonders of the world.  Our group opted for the in-depth engineering and "special" tour because we wanted to  go behind-the-scenes and learn as much as possible about Itaipu. It was especially nice to have Ms. Clark with us since she is both a physics teacher and engineer. We learned so much from this tour and we left in complete awe of this unique engineering marvel.

Rafain !

And finally, on our first awesome day at Iguassu falls, we had dinner at the famous Churascaria, Rafain. Rafain is a wonderful restaurant that only exists in Iguassu and Dallas, Texas (wow!), Here in Iguassu, it is known for its spectacular buffet and entertaining dinner show - a show that features the music of Latin America. It was enjoyed tremendously by our group, especially by Lulu who was called to the stage as a volunteer from the audience! ! The dinner was our last big celebration event of our time in Brazil so we dressed up for this special occasion. Of course, we still have another 2 days here and we intend to make the most of it!
Wilson, our  friend and tour guide of many years, wearing his UA Texas shirt

Our teachers have great senses of humor! 

A lovely setting! 

Loving the buffet! 

Sharp style - love the hat!

YAY Lulu!!!!!

Another volunteer / victim

Viva Mexico!!

El Tango!!!!


Beautiful Brazil !