Twice the Spark: Giselle and Julian DeSousa

Giselle and Julian DeSousa, Dwight Global seniors and elite athletes, are the type of in-sync twins who finish each other's sentences, support each other at school and sport, and admit they never quarrel. 

Their easy dynamic, intelligence, and sense of fun comes across as brightly as their identically wide smiles.

“Giselle and I are indeed twins, Julian said. “I was born a minute before her and will forever be her ‘big brother.’ I believe that we have a unique bond that is not explicable. While we have very different interests and don’t spend a lot of time together due to our sports commitments; we are always in tune with one another, even while apart.”

“He is the nicest person ever. He always has my back.  He looks tough, but he’s a lover, not a fighter,” teased Giselle, a competitive archer, as her brother, a competitive tennis player, laughed.

Julian, a Top 500 international tennis player and Top 5 Dutch National Under 18 player, says he and his sister transferred to Dwight Global at the end of 9th grade because his brick and mortar school at the time did not allow him to compete at the international level, the next step in his tennis development. 

“The flexibility of Dwight Global’s program allows me to combine playing tennis and not compromise a high-quality education, which is important to me,” he said. 

His sister agrees. Giselle says she especially likes that at Dwight Global she is “challenged and stretched to get the best out of myself.” 

Giselle competes for Portugal and is ranked 130th in the world. She picked up archery seven years ago when the family was on vacation at a resort that offered archery as an activity for guests. “I absolutely love the sport,” she said. 

Both twins say the inherent flexibility, level of teacher engagement, and willingness to work with athletes to achieve their best in both school and sports, are their favorite aspects of their online school.

The twins’ mother, Anastasia, is Dutch, and from Aruba, and their father, Emmanuel,  is Portuguese-Canadian. The twins were born in San Francisco and attended school there until the end of 6th grade: Giselle at Convent Elementary School and Julian at the Stuart Hall for Boys School.

After moving to the Netherlands in 2016, both students attended The International School of Amsterdam for grades 7-9, and then joined Dwight Global in 10th grade. 

“Because we have a multi-cultural family, we have always traveled, visiting family in The Caribbean and Europe,” said Julian. 

In addition to family travel, the twins also both travel extensively all over the world to compete in their sports. Their global perspective is a benefit in the eyes of their mother, Anastasia. 

“The kids' multicultural background and travel has set them up well to take advantage of and contribute to Dwight Global's international perspective. This is evident in their ease of understanding and learning from their fellow students from different parts of the world, the ease of managing different time zones, and bringing their background and perspective to class assignments and projects.” 

Anastasia continued: “For example, in a history project, Giselle was able to make a connection between a town 5 km from our house called Breukelen, to Brooklyn in New York, which was named after Breukelen more than 400 years ago. This additional international perspective is a huge added benefit of a truly global education which DG provides."

“Julian and Giselle have been able to relate and put into use what they learn in the classroom at DG during their travels, too; for example, seeing Roman and Greek historical sites first hand in Italy, France and Greece. My children’s enhanced and deeper understanding of all the challenges and the beauty of the different countries, people and cultures is a direct result from their background, further strengthened by DG's excellent academics and international approach,” she said. 

At Dwight Global, classes meet when the twins can log on during their time zones.  Julian said a typical full training day would include waking before 7 am, and four sessions on the court throughout the day ending at 8 pm. Two days would be lighter training and one day intermediate. “I have been playing tennis since I was five years old. I have ambitions to make a career out of playing tennis and work very hard at being the best player I can be,” Julian said. 

Giselle’s schedule is similar. Her classes are timed for New York City mornings, which works well for the Netherlands, she said. When competing she has to meet qualifications, meaning meet certain arrows to qualify, and a player's wins depend on the scores. She has competed in France, Poland, Turkey, Morocco, and Portugal; and in the United States, to Las Vegas, which holds the biggest archery tournament in the world.

“My world has definitely expanded because of international tournaments,” said Giselle.  “Although archery is an individual sport, you have to interact with other archers to score and compete, and there is plenty of time to make friends while walking to the target. I know so many new people now.”

In the fall, Giselle will attend Columbia College, and will compete as a member of the Columbia College archery team. Julian will attend the University of California Santa Barbara and will compete on the university’s tennis team. 

Click here to learn more about Dwight Global Online School and its educational programs.