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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Arrival in Uganda!

What a magnificent first day our delegation has enjoyed in Uganda! Our flight from Dubai was very smooth and efficient (thank you Emirates Airlines!) and we arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, mid-day. From that moment on, we had non-stop activities including meeting our old friends and guides from Empower African Children, eating lunch at the Speke Hotel (named for the 19th Century British explorer), checking out the Nakasero food market (some of us tried crispy grasshoppers, a local delicacy) and finally checking into our hotel and meeting fellow UA alums Agnes Kasule '01, Jules McGee '08 and Ally Rider '12 for dinner. Agnes is Ugandan and lives here in Kampala, Ally is spending her sophomore year semester abroad here in Uganda and Jules flew here to meet us from her home in Mozambique where she is serving in the Peace Corps. It's wonderful to combine our current UA students with these exceptional young alums - we have so much to discuss and share about Africa and about life in general! You'll surely be hearing more about them all in the coming days, for now, here are some photos from today:

All Aboard for Uganda!

Welcome to Uganda!

Jeremy Phillips, CEO of EAC, welcomes us and begins our orientation to Africa!

In front of the Speke Hotel with our old friends, George and Jimmy, from The Spirit of Uganda 

Our first meal in Uganda, pizza, garlic bread and samosas - delicious!!

Trying Ugandan pineapple and ginger soft drinks -  Yumm!

Emily with Sharon from EAC

So much to see here!

We spent much of our day waving to school children from our bus

It was so interesting to meet UA alums Agnes and Ally!

So now, we have 5 UA alums helping to lead our happy group - so fantastic to be together!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hello from Dubai !

Greetings from the Uganda delegation! We are almost there but stopped to spend the night in Dubai. What a magical, modern, cosmopolitan city! Dubai is breath-taking and is impressive not only for its amazing architecture but also for the innovative feats of engineering that created this mega-metropolis in the desert. Our young delegates wasted no time in getting to know the city as we are only here this one night. After our pretty fantastic 16 hour flight on Emirates, we checked into our hotel, ate a lovely buffet lunch (which included lamb, pita bread and hummus) and then some headed immediately to the city center to see the world famous Dubai shopping mall (which includes an aquarium, waterfalls, a huge fountain and more).

This evening, our entire group  enjoyed a traditional Middle Eastern dinner on a relaxing dinner cruise around Dubai Creek. It was just lovely and made us feel very much in the Arab world (which feels like a dream as this is the first UA delegation to visit the Middle East).

Here are some photos from our day - You will note that we have a young man traveling with us. That's our sweet friend, John Baptist, who you may recognize from the Spirit of Uganda. He stayed in Dallas for a couple of extra weeks and is now headed home to Uganda - we are thrilled to have him traveling home as part of our happy, international group!

Greetings from the Hotel Copthorne Dubai

Riding a Camel (sculpture) at the Dubai Mall

The Aquarium at the Dubai Mall

Getting ready to go to dinner Yes, Maggie has gone native..

Our global, fearless chaperones

Dinner on our Moonlight Sonata cruise

sailing along Dubai Creek

After dinner, relaxing on the top floor of our boat

The wind tower and Mosque along Dubai Creek

Disembarking after a magical evening

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Uganda Bound!

We recently said farewell to our friends from The Spirit of Uganda as they returned home last month upon the completion of their highly successful 2014 USA Tour. So, now that they are back home, it's time for us to pay them a visit! We have a delegation of 12 students and 3 faculty preparing to leave for Uganda in the morning. We have been preparing for weeks, learning all about Uganda and also gathering items to donate to several African organizations including our dear friends at St. Catherine's school in Kenya and at the YES center Catholic Church. While in Uganda, our students will consider the challenges and possibilities of Africa and will learn all about the work of Empower African Children and why that work is so critical for the future of Uganda.

Of course, there will also be many fun times of celebration in Uganda, We will be there for Easter and will be hosting two Easter Egg hunts. The group will also get a real feel for Africa as they enjoy a day of safaris at Murchison Falls National Park. It promises to be a fantastic adventure - we invite you to follow along!

Practicing for the Easter Egg hunts! 

The Uganda delegation has been stuffing eggs for days! 

We can't wait to see our friends in Uganda! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

International Educator of the Year Luncheon with Fareed Zakaria

This past week, the World Affairs Council of DFW held its annual International Educator of the Year luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas.  We at UA were especially excited about this event because our own Global Director, Ms. Nipp, was honored as the 2014 International Educator of the Year. The keynote speaker was Fareed Zakaria, CNN commentator and editor of TIME magazine. He spoke about Globalization and, in the end, advised us to all "Cheer Up" as this is a very awesome and overall peaceful time in history. Ms. Nipp also spoke briefly at the luncheon where she thanked Ursuline's visionary leadership which has allowed us to build such meaningful and special partnerships all over the world.

Ms. Nipp and students from Ursuline's Jr. World Affairs Club

Ms. Nipp and Fareed Zakaria
Wonderful UA educators who were (and are) Ms. Nipp's teachers 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


After returning from their fantastic excursion, our Chilean delegates took some time to visit another Ursuline school in Chile, Colegio Santa Ursula in Maipu, a suburb of Santiago. There is a beautiful and tall Basilica in Maipu and our students visited it and climbed to the top. The Maipu School is beautiful and is where the Ursuline sisters reside. The sisters actually have a farm there where they grow their own food. As always, it was great to meet more students and to enjoy some time with Sor Angela, the joyful leader of the Ursuline community and new friend of Sr. Lois!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Chilean Excursion

Our delegates in Chile have just returned from a wonderful 2-day excursion to Pomaire, Valle Rosario, Matetric. Isla Negra and Quisco. It was fantastic! The first stop on the tour was Pomaire, a typical pottery village where the girls tried to throw the wheel. They played with clay in one of the most unique artisan homes of the village. They then enjoyed a typical Chilean lunch including "empanadas" and  coca-cola light.   After lunch, the group went to the Casablanca valley, a beautiful organic vineyard and eco-tourism park. They spent the night there in " indomos" a first world tent with an igloo design. 
On Day 2, the students had a tour of the Matetic valley where they took pictures with alpacas. Afterward, they drove to Isla Negra to visit Pablo Neruda's beach house - a truly awesome experience! 

Isla Negra, home of poet Pablo Neruda
In the picturesque Casablanca Valley

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend in Cape Town

Our South Africa delegation has spent our last days in South Africa on an excursion weekend in beautiful Cape Town, visiting many gorgeous, historical and festive places.  As an added and unexpected bonus, we experienced several "animal encounters." What a perfect way to wrap up what has been the trip of a lifetime!

Our fearless leaders at Boulder's Beach

African Penguins!

We could not get enough of this scenic drive from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope

Where the oceans meet - Cape of Good Hope

After escaping the floods of Johannesburg, Shadhi enjoys a moment in the sun!

A baboon family at the Cape of Good Hope

Just hanging out in Africa....

Sailing to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned)

A former prisoner gave us a tour of the Robben Island prison

Contemplating the cell where Nelson Mandela resided for many years

On windy and gorgeous Table Mountain

Striking a pose on Table Mountain

Sunday Morning Church Service at a local Township

Church Service

With our host, Mama Nok, who made us a delicious African lunch

Ms. Hansson bringing home Rhino "Nelson Randella"