For Ursuline’s first-ever Global Week in January, student delegations from Ursuline’s sister schools Colegio Santa Ursula in Lima, Peru and Beijing Huaxia Girls’ School in Beijing, China were present for the special event. The students from both schools led special presentations for the Ursuline community, both showcasing dances unique to their home countries among other performances.
During these presentations, the students from Ursuline Dallas were active and engaged. Host students are not an irregular occurrence at Ursuline. In fact, there is always a long list of students hoping to host a student from another Ursuline school.
In the case of the Peruvian and Chinese delegations, four seniors, Paola O’Rourke ‘20, Abbi Sakawat ‘20, Sarah Hui ’20 and Sarah Nguyen ’20, were very eager to host.
O’Rourke and Sakawat both hosted students from Colegio Santa Ursula in Peru. O’Rourke loved showing her new friend, Ariana Paredes, around Dallas.
Paredes, 15, would be a sophomore at Ursuline and she had never been to the United States prior to her trip. When comparing Texas to her native Peru, Paredes said, “Texas is a big, beautiful and really fun state. The people are really nice and the state itself has its own personality.”
O’Rourke made sure that Paredes really got a sense of Dallas and its unique southern culture. The pair had a blast at Six Flags, shopping at thrift stores, running at Ursuline cross country practices, exploring Target, participating in the Women’s March and touring Southern Methodist University.
Paredes favorite part of her visit was “seeing new places and trying new foods each time.” She actually cooked a traditional Peruvian dish called Sopa Criolla for O’Rourke’s family so they could try a new food, too!
Abbi Sakawat and her host sister, Alejandra Cubas, also formed a close bond during the Peruvians’ visit to Dallas. As they both prefer adventure and exploring new places rather than simply going shopping, they got along quite well.
The duo visited an arcade, Bishop Arts district, Deep Ellum, Six Flags, Klyde Warren Park and the Perot Museum. Cubas’s favorite part of her visit to Texas was Six Flags, whereas Sakawat really enjoyed having a sister for two weeks since she is an only child, she said.
Cubas was most surprised by Texas’ immense size and crazy weather. As she has visited Orlando before, her stay in Dallas was not her first venture into the United States. The 15-year-old would be a freshman at Ursuline and found the people in Dallas to be very friendly.
Sarah Hui ‘20 and Sarah Nguyen ‘20 loved hosting students from Beijing Huaxia Girls’ School in China. Hui was most surprised by how mature her host sister, Phoebe Zhao, acted for her age.
At only 13, Zhao would be in eighth grade in the United States. However, Hui found that Zhao’s mannerisms and height made her more equivalent to an Ursuline freshman.
Zhao’s hobbies include listening to music, with K-pop boyband BTS number one among her favorites, learning K-pop dances and reading. Her love for BTS and K-pop dancing led to Zhao performing a K-pop dance during the Chinese delegation’s Global Week presentation. Following her performance, Zhao quickly became friends with Ariana Paredes, Paola O’Rourke’s host sister from Peru, who is also a fan of BTS.
“I think that [their friendship] fit the theme of Global Week perfectly. It’s so great when we have two visiting delegations from two very different parts of the world, but we’re all able to connect and form relationships,” said Hui.
Zhao’s favorite part of her visit in Dallas was going to Fossil Rim. She also especially loved Dallas’ rainy weather. “I feel comfortable on rainy days. It’s pretty relaxing to watch the rain drop down,” she said.
It was not her first time in the United States, as she visited Boston and New York City over the summer. Sarah Nguyen’s host student, Rainie Chen, has also visited New York City and enjoyed her stay in Dallas too.
In comparison to China, Rainie felt that Texas has less buildings and more land. She also noticed that the sky is a “clear blue, while in Beijing it is grayer.”
Rainie is also 13 years old and would be an eighth grader in the United States. Outside of school, she plays basketball and piano. Due to less forms of social media in China, Nguyen and Rainie contacted each other through email prior to her visit.
The pair enjoyed eating sushi at Kura Revolving Sushi Belt, visiting the Fort Worth stockyards, and trying American fast food from Chick Fil A and Sonic. Rainie’s favorite part of the visit was spending time with her host sister. Nguyen loved playing chess with Rainie and her friends.
Although the Chinese traveled back to China on Jan. 26 and the Peruvians traveled back to Peru on Jan. 30, the bonds they formed with their host sisters and the memories they made will last a lifetime.
Image courtesy of Paola O’Rourke