Our Lady of Fatima Students Visit Hong Kong through School’s Participation in National Program—OLF is First Private School in WV to Join International Alliance for Invitational Education

By Colleen Rowan

HUNTINGTON—Through a unique partnership between their schools, students at Our Lady of Fatima School in Huntington      and PYLF Primary School in     Hong Kong are learning about each other’s culture, schools and life.

Our Lady of Fatima

Courtesy Photo

Students and chaperons from Our Lady of Fatima School in Huntington are pictured with students and teachers at PYLF Primary School in Hong Kong.

It all began last year when OLF Principal Jenafer Saseen entered the school into the International Alliance for Invitational Education, making OLF the first private school in the state to participate in the program. Last spring, a group of PYLF students spent 10 days in Huntington—visiting OLF and experiencing American culture.

Seven OLF students traveled to Hong Kong Nov. 13-24 visiting their peers at PYLF.

“Having students from another culture live in our daily life and getting to take our Fatima students to another country … is a true cultural exchange,” Saseen said. “That’s such a benefit at such a young age.”

In order to go on the trip to Hong Kong, OLF students had to apply by writing an essay on why they wanted to visit the city. OLF students who went on the trip were eighth-grader Emilie Charles, seventh-graders Neil Loftus and Sophie Agrawal, sixth-graders Maggie Robinson, Audrey Pickett and Theodora Mayes and fifth-grader Olivia Charles. Five chaperones joined them.

“The students got to live everyday life in the classroom,” Saseen said. “They were paired with a sixth-grade class” and participated in art, physical education, music, math and cultural learning classes with their peers. They also went on field trips to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum; the Peak, which overlooks the city; and Chung Chow Island.

“I thought the trip was very educational,” Emilie Charles said. “It was an amazing experience.” She said she liked the school and said everyone was respectful and disciplined. “I thought it was a great trip,” Maggie Robinson said. “I liked going to the school.” …  It “was an unforgettable experience.”

As the partnership continues, 14 PYLF students will visit OLF in March, and OLF students will go back to Hong Kong in 2017.

“It was an amazing experience for Fatima to be able to share what we have, here at Fatima, with them in Hong Kong as well as to see the students that were here last year and to see the impact that we made on them,” said OLF Advancement Director Crystal Robinson. “It was a once in a lifetime experience.”