Ciara Halloran hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, and her global journey began at the age of ten when her family moved to Canada. From there, she ventured to various corners of the world, including the United States, France, and Costa Rica, accumulating a wealth of cultural experiences along the way. Her family background is a captivating blend of Czech, British, and South African heritage, giving her a truly international perspective.

Climate change was a notable challenge for Ciara; she says, “Adapting to the colder climate in Canada was a significant adjustment, especially coming from a warm South African upbringing, but I learned to ski. I love the snow now, so I made the most of it.” and she adds another change by saying “The absence of school uniforms was also a new experience because I didn't really have trendy clothes that I thought were the culture of everybody in Canada; you know, just getting used to sort of dressing, every day wearing something new. Before, I didn't have to think about that.” Shifting from a uniform dress code to more casual attire. “So that was the first sort of shock.” Additionally, her accent garnered attention, but she quickly learned to embrace it. 

Her move to the USA was prompted by her father's promotion as the president of BMW-USA, which led them to settle in New Jersey. The cultural transition was not too drastic due to similarities with Canada. However, Ciara's initial impressions of the USA were colored by the new culinary experiences of Texan barbecue and Mexican cuisine, which were entirely new to her. Additionally, being in close proximity to New York City exposed her to a vibrant multicultural tapestry. “I think being in New York really highlighted for me different cultures and gave me further multi-cultural exposure. It's a wonderful city often referred to as the melting pot of the U.S., where you encounter people from all walks of life." 

Despite her love for her adopted home, homesickness often tugs at Ciara's heartstrings. She said, “I often miss my family and friends back in South Africa, especially during significant events. And there’s nothing like an African sunset!” Ciara openly acknowledges missing her family but also the familiar flavors of South Africa. Biltong, a type of beef jerky, remains a cherished taste of home.

Ciara's academic journey led her to a Bachelor of Science in Education with a specialization in Housing and Interior Design at Virginia Tech, more formally known as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, as an international student. “I wasn't sure if I would return to South Africa afterward, but I ended up staying because I met my husband while I was in university. He actually played professional baseball. He played for the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. And after I graduated from the university, we got married.”

Throughout this time, they moved around the United States due to her husband's baseball duties. “We moved around a lot because he was playing baseball. We lived in Virginia and Florida for a while, and then he retired from baseball, and we found our way up to Pennsylvania.”  She and her husband have been living here for 20 years. Together, they raised “two amazing children, one a high school senior and the other a sophomore at Penn State”. 

She seamlessly integrated her global expertise into the real estate industry, where she has specialized in international real estate (CIPS) since 2018.

As a Certified International Property Specialist, she is part of the <1% of Realtors with this designation. She has the knowledge, network, exposure and resources to efficiently work with all buyers and sellers. This includes U.S. residents looking to invest in or purchase property overseas and foreign buyers purchasing in the United States. Moreover, she says, “I'm deeply passionate about advocating for underrepresented communities, particularly within the LGBTQ+ and AANHPI communities especially as it relates to housing and discrimination laws.” "Love one another and treat everyone equally" is a maxim that deeply resonates with Ciara, encapsulating her personal philosophy.

Ciara's involvement with Global Connections reflects her commitment to bridging cultures and creating spaces of belonging. Through events and discussion groups, she connects with a diverse community, valuing the exchange of perspectives.“ I joined Global Connections to connect with a global community. After being a member for some years, I became more actively involved this year. The Saudi Arabia cultural luncheon was a highlight, and I enjoy engaging in discussion groups to understand diverse perspectives.”

Joining Global Connections has opened up a world of enriching experiences for Ciara. It is a community where she has found like-minded individuals and a platform to foster understanding and compassion across cultures. “It is nice to have a space that you can share without issues. Really, it is a safe space. Just to learn from other people and learn about their experiences, even sometimes their struggles. There we have a good sense of community.” For her, the best part of being a GC member is “the opportunity to be involved with my community members and to be able to give, as well as to help plan events. “I enjoyed organizing the October membership picnic at Spring Creek Park. I am helping Shannon with the next cultural luncheon. So, I think that is the best part. Just getting to know everybody, getting to meet everybody, make new friends, and have the opportunity to see people from the discussion group. By the way, I love the discussion group.”

We asked her what she would say to someone who wants to get involved with GC. She says, “Come and join, make it happen, and do it! It is a wonderful community filled with fantastic people.” As final thoughts, for Ciara, life is about Ubuntu, an African concept emphasizing compassion and humanity. She believes in looking out for one another, fostering a sense of unity and collective care.

Webmaster's note: This article was recently published by Global Connections, a Centre County nonprofit that aims to cultivate interpersonal relationships and build bridges across cultures, one connection at a time. For more information, visit their website at