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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Melbourne Girls' College

After leaving Queensland, we had one more stop on our Australia itinerary: Melbourne. Melbourne is Australia's second most populous city and is the capital of the state of Victoria. It is a cosmopolitan city known for a wonderful standard of living, sports, tourism and education. Melbourne is also home to Melbourne Girls' College, an outstanding Australian government girls' school which is also an international member of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NCGS), an organization to which UA Dallas also belongs. We were invited to visit Melbourne Girls' School by fellow educators who we met in 2012 at an NCGS conference in Dallas. It was a fantastic visit and we now have a long list of possibilities for collaboration and exchange between our schools.


The School Library

Student Leaders 

Posing with our NCGS colleagues (and Charlie!)

Change of class - looks very familiar

Meeting with the Student Executive Council
Print-making class

Overlooking the Yarra River - perfect for Crew practice!

International students in class

Thank you to our friends for hosting us and inviting us to Melbourne! 

Joyful news!

It is with great joy that we confirm that St. Ursula's College of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia is now an official sister-school of Ursuline Academy of Dallas, Texas, USA. Our plans for student cultural and educational exchanges have begun! We look forward to hosting a visit from St. Ursula's in 2015 and we also look forward to bringing UA Dallas students to Australia.

As we reflect on this happy news, it is worth noting that Ursuline Academy of Dallas now has sister schools and partnerships on every continent. This reality is a dream come true for us at Ursuline Dallas and is a result of years of work and effort by countless Ursuline educators. We send a special word of thanks to our brothers and sisters at Colegio Santa Ursula in Brazil who, through Rafael Bianchi, sent us the following words of congratulations:

Feeling proud of you! You've been connecting Ursuline schools and educators worldwide. Angela had an attitude of pilgrim. She herself was a global woman at a time when the term globalization had not even been coined. Educators like you work to continue her project and make the charism fresh and alive! I am pretty sure she's been watching your steps! Congrats!

We are humbled and excited and are very certain that St. Angela is blessing our Ursuline connections. Here are a few last photos from our precious time with our sisters at St. Ursula's College, a place that we will miss but also one that we will visit again soon!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Making future plans in Toowoomba

As we are hoping to return to Toowoomba in the future with UA Dallas students, we have been discussing possible lessons and activities which could occur during their time in Australia in addition to all that they will experience as part of an educational and cultural exchange. Here are just a few of our ideas:

There are countless possibilities for studying native Australian birds and plants in the many parks around  Toowoomba. Here you see some Kukooburras, a popular native Australian bird.  

With its rich history, Toowoomba is the perfect place to study traditional Queensland architecture 
Beautiful Aboriginal art can be found in the art galleries of Toowoomba - we'd love for our students to have a chance to learn about art unique to Australia 
Lamingtons are a popular Australian treat - Our students could learn to make them in Hospitality class
With the great emphasis on sports here, our students could practice the sports they already love such as swimming or, they could learn something new like bowling on the lawn. 
As you can see, there is so much waiting here for our UA Dallas students. In looking ahead, we also took some time to tour the house where our faculty will stay when they come here with our students. It's a cozy and comfortable early 20th century home, just across the street from St. Ursula's. So lovely and convenient! After considering all of the possibilities here for our students and teachers, we are confident that this is going to be a great partnership for all!

Future residence of visiting UA Dallas faculty 

Classes at St. Ursula's College

One of our favorite activities during our visit to St. Ursula's College has been visiting classes and learning about the St. Ursula curriculum. We have had an opportunity to observe many classes including Chemistry, Music, Japanese Language, Hospitality and Art. The interdisciplinary lesson in the art class was of particular interest to us as we are also very focused on interdisciplinary learning at UA Dallas. The unit studied is called "Praying & Meditation through Art & Music" and involves a three week task where students research images and religious texts related to sacred representations, symbols and marks relating to meditation.  Students study the elements of art and the principles of design to examine symbolic religious work and to reflect on drawing as an expressive medium related to mandalas. We also talked to the teacher about other interdisciplinary units especially the representation of icons in religious art. As you can see below, classes at St. Ursula's are inspiring and innovative - we are learning so much during our time here!

Hello Dallas!!  from the Chemistry students at St. Ursula's College

Art Class Meditation & Drawing

Coloring a beautiful mandala

Student work on religious icons

Student work reflecting "those who do God's work on Earth" including 2 Americans, Oprah & MLK
Music Class

Another lovely student & lovely mandala

Discussing the Interdisciplinary Art Class & Student tasks

Making Puddings in Hospitality class

Using all senses in Hospitality class

The delicious finished product! 

Japanese Class

The Japanese classroom 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Welcome to St.Ursula's College!

After spending our first days in Australia researching places where we might take our students in the future, the day finally arrived for us to visit St. Ursula's College, the school that we hope will become our next sister-school. Founded in 1931, St.Ursula's is located in Toowoomba, Queenland and serves girls in grades 8-12 (grade 7 coming next year!). It is a lovely school with several red brick buildings that made us feel very much at home. First on our agenda was a tour of the school.

Maddie was our delightful and capable Year 12 tour guide 

We have found a friend for Honey Buns! Her name is Ursie Bear! 

Art Class

Feels like home....

The back courtyard of the school

We are envious of some of the fabulous facilities!

A Serviam shield in flowers!!

Thank you for a wonderful tour!

St. Ursula's is currently beginning the last term of the school year and so, after our tour, we were happy to join students for their opening of term assembly and prayer service. It was especially nice because the prayer service had an "outback" theme.

At the assembly, we thanked all at St. Ursula's for the warm welcome that we have received and we told the students that our students in Dallas can't wait to meet their Australian sisters! The Assembly ended with the whole school singing this beautiful song about Serviam. 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Australia Zoo

The Australia Zoo is an amazing and unique animal conservation and rehabilitation facility in Queensland, Australia, just north of Brisbane. This magnificent zoo began in the 70's as a reptile and fauna park and was run by the Irwin family. Steve Irwin, the young man who grew up working at his parents' reptile park, would become a world famous animal conservationist and Animal Planet celebrity, also known as "The Crocodile Hunter." Sadly, Steve was killed in a freak accident involving a sting ray in 2006. However, his family, wife Terry (who is an American), daughter Bindi and son Robert, not only continue the conservation work that Steve began but they have also expanded the zoo and the research  that is done there.  Today, the zoo has grown into a mega complex housing animals from all over the world and it also houses one of the best wildlife hospitals on the planet. Because so many of our UA students are interested in animal conservation, veterinary medicine and environmental issues, this fantastic zoo will be a perfect destination for them to encounter, learn and enjoy!

The Irwin Family 

A sunbathing Iguana enjoying the day
A Dingo! Dingos are "wild" dogs but this guy was quite mellow

A happy & sleepy koala - Koalas are only native to Australia

Milo the Koala with a human friend

The amazing croc show at the Crocoseeum

Just hopping around "Roo Heaven"
We stopped by to "Meet the Owl" 

We also attended a wonderfully informative "Koala lecture" 

Remembering the great Steve Irwin
Best animal encounter ever!!