The Bridge AISB Alumni Magazine, Big Green Issue

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The Bridge The AISB Alumni Community Magazine ISSUE #2 ӏ The Big Green Issue ӏ 2020

Microbes and their practical applications for sustainability Michael Gilles

On figuring life out Linn Ternsjö

Cherry-picking Budapest Climate Data

Your Bridge to the World and Beyond...

Robert Connell

The population of AISB may be transitory, but we need ideas that last. Our responsibility is not only to ourselves but also to our planet. AISB Green Committee

THE BRIDGE The AISB Alumni Community Magazine ISSUE #2 | SEPTEMBER 2020

Editor-in-Chief Reka Sari Publisher American International School of Budapest About This BIG GREEN issue is focusing on AISB alumni’s positive environmental actions on our planet. Blazer Updates We really appreciate your continued contributions to future editions. Please email your updates with a photo to Story Contributions We would love to hear your story. Please write to Publication The Bridge is an annual alumni magazine. Digital At the time of publishing, copies can be downloaded here: Print Editions For print copies, please email us at We are happy to ship additional copies to you at no charge. Advertising We do not currently accept paid advertising. We are glad, however, to promote relevant items if they are mentioned within articles.

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From Paul Slocombe (Director 2014-2020) and Reka Sari (Editor-in-Chief )

What’s New

Check out what has changed on campus since you left!

The Big Q: Interview with Alex Hemingway (‘96)

Alex talks about his time at AISB, the years that followed, and the importance of the Alumni Association

There is Life after AISB, and Life after Retirement

The Andersons (Teachers 1991-2011) become dedicated docents for the South Sound Salmon Enhancement Group

Microbes and their Practical Applications for Sustainability

Insights from Mike Gillis (‘12) into a career in biotechnology

5 th Annual Football Cup

AISB’s famed football field merges past and present, as 15 alums/former footballers played a friendly soccer match against the AISB Varsity Boys team

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On Figuring Life Out

Linn Ternsjö (‘12) who has found fulfilling work in her own way

We Asked, You Answered… ...and we loved what we found out!

Where is Senegal?

When language learning connects with service and real-life experience by Delinka Fabiny (Middle School French Teacher since 1991)

Class of 2020

The AISB Alumni Association welcomes our Class of 2020

Cherry-picking Budapest Climate Data

Misconceptions, Myths and Facts about Climate Change by Robert Connell (‘15)


See where you’ve been meeting up; Amsterdam, New York, Nagykovácsi…

Blazer Updates AKA Class Notes

In Memoriam Welcome/Goodbye Director

Introducing our new school director, Mr. Brett Penny, and saying goodbye to director Paul Slocombe

Counselor’s Corner

The Value of Connection; by Rob Herald (High School Counsellor)

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WELCOME Dear Alumni,


he year got off to a great start with lots of new connections being made and a plan for a new alumni council, which Alex Hemingway has graciously agreed to form. Two alumni events were held in late January and early February, in Amsterdam and New York. Both were a great success, and the pictures and news can be seen as a feature in this magazine. I was able to return to Amsterdam for the first time in over 40 years and really enjoyed the event, catching up with recent alums and meeting older alums for the first time. It was also wonderful to explore the city. I’d forgotten what a beautiful city Amsterdam is.

Then, of course, everything changed. News of a new virus starting coming out of China in early January, and the virus then spread to 200 plus countries throughout the world. It has caused the biggest disruption to the world since the Second World War, and the biggest pandemic since the 1918 Spanish f lu. We have all experienced its impact. I know some of our AISB community and alums have personal experiences of this disease and have suffered the loss of friends and family. To those affected, I send my deepest sympathies. It has in addition, derailed our plans to hold an oncampus reunion in May, and it has slowed the growth of our program. So, we now have to look for 2021 to get together again. At that time, I will also be joining the ranks of faculty alumni. This year marks my 6th and last as Director of AISB. I have immensely enjoyed my time in Budapest and the wonderful connections I have made with the AISB community. But, I made the decision last year to move on to new challenges, or retirement, which is looking increasingly attractive! Brett Penny is my replacement, coming from NIST in Bangkok. He is an excellent educator and person, and I know you will all enjoy getting to know him, as he makes his introductions. My plans are to initially be based in California, so hopefully I’ll make a reunion planned for the west coast in the future. Meanwhile, stay safe and my very best wishes for a successful and healthy year. Paul Slocombe Director 2014-2020

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Editor’s letter


elcome to the second issue of THE BRIDGE alumni magazine! In this long-planned for BIG GREEN ISSUE, we focus on the ways in which our alums and our AISB community make positive environmental impacts on our planet. As you can imagine, writing this editor's letter is challenging, for COVID-19 has changed the world − and each of our personal worlds. Air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen dramatically, but at a great human cost, since industries, transport networks, and businesses have reduced services or even closed down, causing widespread job losses. When the pandemic is eventually behind us, will pollution and carbon emissions simply return to their former levels? Or could this worldwide crisis teach us to prefer greener solutions in our lives? In this issue, you will see our alumni as pioneers, on missions to preserve healthier and greener lives for those sitting in the same school chairs they once sat in. These kinds of people are a bridge to a better future. Reka Sari Editor-in-Chief



ou may have noticed the recent rebrands on our website and publications. There have been many upgrades on campus in the past few years. We hope you like our new look!

New Signage Concept

High School Lobby

Elementary School Reception

Building B Cafe

MS-HS Lobbies

Elementary School Playground Middle School Lobby

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Main Gate

Middle School Playground

Elementary School Cafe

Building B Reception

Bulding B Solar Panels

Building B Courtyard Building B Main Staircase

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Your learning is only just beginning when you graduate, and the world is filled with incredible opportunities. Approach every challenge as an opportunity. Mr. Brett Penny (School Director 2020-)

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or third culture kids like me, the concept of home is complicated. I was born and raised in Budapest and will always consider it to be my home despite having no blood ties. The place in which you grow up will always be a huge inf luence especially during your formative years. Speaking of formative years, I spent 14 of them at AISB and have many fond memories of the school, from playing tag and blind chicken at Kakukk utca to the terrifying thought of beginning the Third Grade in the shiny new school in Nagykovacsi. In my first year at NK I learned to catch praying mantises and play with Buffy the Cricket Slayer in Mrs. Anderson’s class (3A) which I can confidently claim was the beginning of a life-long passion for the natural world. This was fortified by long walks with my loving parents through the forests behind my first house up by the Childrens’ Railway,

and then in the National Forest behind our house in Nagykovacsi. This was later followed by nature excursions with my little brothers as we tried to get a closer look at the various mouf lon, ungulates and boar that lived beyond our garden gates.

When the tables were turned and we were chased by those same boar, my dog Zeno got most of the blame. But we lived to tell tall tales of foxes, deer and wild sheep with impossible horns that had escaped from Vadasz Park and now roamed free like us.

Fast forward to Ninth Grade and Mr. Mortenson who guided me in athletics, my extended essay and in Environmental Systems. It was in his class that I discovered the beauty and complexity of individual microbiomes and observed the mechanisms and interactions which had been shaped by their environment to be unique to that particular moment in time. I was mesmerized.

As all good comrades and IB students do, plenty of smoke filled Saturday nights were spent huddled around a red table surrounded by communist nostalgia and graffiti ardently discussing business, politics, and pleasure, while peering through empty Dreher glasses into the future; both later that night and as far into the oncoming years as we dared. This description could have been of any number of

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degree at the University of Saskatchewan, I have moved to Fort St. John, B.C. to take up a position as an environmental consultant in the oil fields. My job entails advising clients on mitigation and remediation measures to ensure that the client is complying with environmental regulations. In a nutshell, ‘if you spill it, I’ll help you clean it up and then make sure you put it back the way it was.’

bars frequented by tourists, backpackers and AISB students alike, but of course, I am referring to the famous Marxim.

After leaving AISB I moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to continue my studies of environmental biology. As a university student I worked even longer hours while at the same time bartending, working on farms and construction sites, and researching as a lab tech for a biotech company, Green STEM. I even spent a summer tagging the threatened Big Mouth Buffalo fish at a lake called Buffalo Pound. Since obtaining my bachelor’s

As a university student I worked even longer hours while at the same time bartending, working on farms and construction sites...

To put into perspective where I live, I am currently writing this article while traveling to a work site. During this four hour drive we saw three caribou, one lynx, seven moose and warning signs littering the icy road instructing us to ‘drive defensively as wild bison are roaming’. It is truly one of the last bastions of the wild west, where a polar vortex can be pushed from the north dropping temperatures to -51 C at anytime during the months of December and January- which doesn’t make it top of the list for winter holiday destinations.

Thankfully a polar vortex typically doesn’t last longer than a week… at a time. Fortunately, the warmer months are spectacularly beautiful. Since moving to BC, I’ve become an avid fly fisherman which occupies arguably too much of my time during the spring and summer.

I can draw a linear relationship between the IB, specifically the extended essay, and the work and passions that I pursued after graduation. In 2008 my father called me to the TV to watch a documentary on NHK about an apple orchard that produced high quality fruit due to its unique and diverse microbiome. This was my first introduction to microbial ecosystems and mycorrhizae.

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Little did I know that 3 years later, while contemplating possible extended essay topics, I would remember that weekend morning in the spring where my next 10 years would be rewritten. My IB extended essay explored the future practical application of mycorrhizal fungi. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what I wrote about, but I can tell you that it either impressed, or confused the IB marker enough to earn that extra point that all IB students long for


ince writing that extended essay, huge leaps have been made in the biotech field concerning the use of microbes in remediation. The research at the U of S under Dr. Susan Kaminskyj and her biotech company, GreenSTEM Technology, focused heavily on a class of microbes called endophytes which are fungi that can inhabit a plant’s intercellular space. The mechanisms behind this symbiosis are not well understood, however what we do know is that these endophytes tend to assist plants in overcoming stress. Tsth20-1 is a strain of trichoderma

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harzianum which has an affinity for breaking down complex hydrocarbon chains which it can use as its sole food source. This behaviour is seen when grown in a petri dish outside of the plant, however in plants it increases tolerance for stress, allowing plant life to colonize otherwise barren soils. The publication that I contributed to can be found on Plos with a link at the end of this article as well as a poster that is more easily understood by the layman. The idea of microbial remediation is not novel, however our understanding and techniques for practical application are improving greatly. Very recently another company, Fixed Earth (, affiliated with the company I currently work for, made a breakthrough concerning the remediation of polyf luoralkyl substances (PFAS) through the use of biotechnology. This pollutant is common to the Eastern seaboard of North America and causes a host of health problems and draws environmental concern. This biotechnology has the potential to reverse or at the very least mitigate the immense damage already dealt. Its been an honour to have had such great teachers and watch the scientific process at work. I am truly the sum of all these experiences and each interaction. Each job, class, and friendship has brought me to where I am, guiding my personal evolution into who I am today.

WHAT BETTER THAN SOCIAL CONNECTION? Steeped in our AISB ethos is an enduring sense of Community and Connection. It is in this spirit that we have heralded the reboot of the AISB Alumni program. It begins, middle and ends with you!

We are an inclusive and involved community of students, teachers and parents.

Our AISB Values start with Community...

We appreciate each member of our community as an individual with unique talents and abilities.

We believe in the importance of community as a meaningful social connection tool to keep the positive spirit of AISB alive and thriving past graduation. Social Connection is more than just a group of connecting apps; it defines a fundamental psychological need of humans in the wellness tapestry of our lives. We are purposefully hard-wired for connection and our digital world makes this a (at times overwhelming) breeze. Healthy Communities form the backbone of a healthy society and the cornerstone of our evolution as ultrasocial beings. We believe that a pillar of everyone’s happiness and fulfilment is a connection to a healthy community. We are helping to build that for you and keep the community alive here at AISB.

We need your help to drive this growth with us... however you can! Here are some ways you can be part of our AISB Alumni Community growth:

Volunteer to be your class rep Organise an event near you Come to our annual reunion at AISB in May Help connect us with other alums Tell us what you would like from your Alumni Program

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BLAZERS, NOW AND FOREVER Interview with Alex Hemingway ('96)

Alex Hemingway is an entrepreneur and restaurateur, with twenty-two years in the hospitality business. He is the current President of the AISB Alumni Association, a member of the first graduating classes at AISB and a former AISB School Board member. Alex has three children presently attending the school: Christie, Grant and Pierce. What was the AISB Campus like when you first attended? When I first attended, AISB was at our original Csilleberc campus in the Buda Hills. That sprawling campus was more akin to a small college campus in the northeastern United States than to a private international high school in Central Europe. We had a small graduating class of eighteen students and were a very close group of friends. Classes took place in different buildings with the sports facilities spread throughout the area. There were so few of us that everyone had to join every sport and every club; otherwise there wouldn’t be enough to have it. Students were able to drive to school in their own cars and leave campus for lunch. We had the great experience of being semi-independent while still being within an academic institution.

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Do you have a favorite teacher or memory from AISB?

As a third culture kid attending high school at AISB, that period is a very vivid one for me, as it certainly was for anyone attending at that time. The two teachers that I enjoyed the most were a family pair, Tom Cangiano and his wife Linda. Tom taught American History while his wife Linda taught science and oversaw Model United Nations and the Debate Society. They were both intense personalities but very likable and had a great sense of humor. A memorable moment was being on campus the day the pop-up gym burned down, which is the reason we are called the Blazers today. Like all high schoolers, my thinking was dominated by figuring out where I would attend college, trying to do well and spending time with my friends. While it was a great experience, today AISB is a much more developed institution than it was then.

What lessons from AISB were you able to apply to your own life? Foundational education is clearly the greatest benefit that I received at AISB. However, two key lessons came from that time for me: focus and flexibility. The first came from the realization that while I naturally did well in those subjects that I enjoyed, the key to achievement was focusing harder on those I did not. The lesson was that my overall strength was tied to my willingness to shore up those areas I was not

naturally inclined to. The second lesson, even more important, was flexibility. Empirically, I have seen that the ability to achieve in life is greatly tied to one's ability to adapt and be flexible in new environments. Since then, I have lived in six countries and done business in all of them. That flexibility and ability to adapt has served me well professionally. I have exactly zero qualms about new environments, meeting new individuals and getting into new situations.

What has been your professional path since graduation? Following AISB, I was thrilled to attend Pepperdine University, which is a fantastic four year college in Southern California. After four engaging years at Pepperdine, I had a roadmap made clear to me by numerous corporate opportunities. That lack of concern about the risk inherent in new situations enabled me to choose my own path as an entrepreneur and restaurateur. Over my business career, I have had the opportunity to be the CEO of a company with over 180 restaurants and the president of one listed on the NASDAQ. I have founded three restaurant companies of my own and have lived and worked in six countries. That professional path began with the flexibility born of necessity at AISB. The entrepreneurial path, such as it is, requires flexibility and determination, above all else. The building blocks of that professional strength were found in the character building at AISB. I am forever grateful to the teachers at AISB and at Pepperdine for spending their time and energy on that young man.

What is your present relationship with the school as an alumnus? I have been part of the American School community since attending here in the 1990’s, essentially for decades. When we moved back into Europe, I enrolled all three of my children in AISB. Christie, Grant and Pierce have

attended mostly since they were in kindergarten and all three will graduate from AISB as well. There is enormous continuity in seeing all my children have the wonderful, fulfilling, experiences that I did at the same school I attended. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Trustees and as Chair of the Governance Committee, both worthwhile enterprises for parents interested in being a part of the school fabric.

You recently became the President of AISB’s Alumni Council and Association. Tell us about the Council's goals. What is its purpose? The Alumni Council itself serves as the advisory to the President of the Alumni Association. Our first act has been to formally create the AISB Alumni Association, of which all graduates of AISB are automatically members. We are presently reaching out to outstanding alumni to join our Council, help us engage local alumni and build our global presence. We have an ambitious agenda for the Alumni Association and are pursuing those goals with some great support from the school.

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What benefits does being a member offer for an alumnus? Our alumni are global and living fascinating, rewarding lives in business, service leadership, creative arts and education, to name a few. The AISB Alumni Association will endeavor to bring that global community together and be a touchstone for all alumni, wherever they are.

Our Alumni Association is designed to build the influential relationships and connections that can last a lifetime. We will be highlighting individuals through our Outstanding Alumni Series in our Alumni Magazine and in all our social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc). We want to know about all the wonderful things that alumni are up to and want everyone else to know about them as well. We are hosting alumni Blazer gatherings in cities around the world and will continue to do so. This year we organized successful networking events in Amsterdam and New York and are committed to doing a minimum of three events a year, including our large alumni event in Budapest. These events are designed to bring together alumni who live in the same city, to meet and network. We plan to establish a current Alumni Directory so that alumni can reach out to each other in the different cities they may go to. One absolute truth in life is, you never know where it may take you. This is particularly true of Blazers.

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Is there anything else that our alumni community would be interested to know about the Alumni Association or about you? Yes, as an AISB alumnus you are part of a global community that is unique, diverse and vibrant. We want to help you meet other AISB alumni and will engage with you to help highlight the great work you are doing in your own life and network with others from our community. We are the resource to bring you together with other alumni.

It’s important to remember wherever you go, you are a Blazer, now and forever. I am always available and can be directly contacted at

THERE IS LIFE AFTER AISB By Bret and Tobey Anderson (Teachers at AISB 1991-2011)


ISB had been doing its best to increase conservation awareness among students and the community for several years before we retired. Teachers like Marc Lavoie, Theresa Rekawek, Doug Gillis and Doug Rudnicki had organized events like the elementary garden and Earth Day. As science teachers, we had added conservation topics and environmental awareness in our science class for years. Who can forget Tobey’s intriguing metamorphosis when her class raised owl butterf lies (Caligo) from egg to adult? There also was Bret’s earth science unit that contained “incredible edible” geology, when students built models out of cake and cookies that could really be internalized.

Now, after years of study and observation, we realize that these changes to the landscape had longterm negative impacts on the environment.

So we were already primed to take an active role in saving the earth for our grandchildren. Fortunately for us, the place of our retirement, Washington State, had long been a hotbed of tree huggers and salmon lovers. There are fantastic beaches, pristine forests, rolling prairies, clear rivers and even an active volcano readily available to everyone. Members of the public make frequent use of the many state, federal and local parks. There is strong public support for restoring rivers and streams to their original condition. Early pioneers had labored to dam and straighten winding creeks, draining swamps and estuaries to make more pasture land for their stock. In doing this, they inadvertently reduced spawning grounds for salmon and habitat for other wildlife. Now, after years of study and observation, we realize that these changes to the landscape had long-term negative impacts on the environment.

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We had hardly unpacked our shipment when a family member suggested that we might like to become docents for the South Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. We underwent the training and happily spent many rainy November days explaining the life cycle of salmon at Kennedy Creek while students watched the chum salmon swimming upstream to spawn. It was like a scene from a National Geographic documentary. The tiger-striped chum salmon had only one thing on its mind: “Go home and make babies!” They fought the current and leaped waterfalls until they found a gravelly area full of oxygenated water to lay their round, orange eggs. Out of 5,000 eggs, only two adult salmon would return

There are plenty of ways the public can help care for the environment. There are frequent volunteer work parties that keep the parks clean and remove nonnative species. We have been involved in park clean-ups during the fall to get the Kennedy Creek area ready for school students to view the salmon in the rivers. Washington State has very eco-friendly fishing regulations. Certain rivers and lakes are designated as “Catch and Release” areas. The fish caught for sport are released back into the water rather than going into the frying pan. This ensures that the fish population grows and does not become extinct. Tobey joined the Stream Team, a group of dedicated volunteers who regularly went out to count macro-invertebrates in local streams. This data is collected from all over the state and provides a good indicator about the health of the stream.

back to spawn after being in the ocean for several years. After laying their eggs and fertilizing them, the chum die and become food for the forest animals. The waste from these animals helps the forest plants to grow and prosper. This is one of the reasons the Pacific Northwest has such lush forest areas.

Our years as AISB teachers primed us to become involved in the care of our environment. We are grateful for the pro-environment attitude at the school.

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pon returning home from his journey’s end, at which time past and present meet as hope and reconciliation, the poet of Eliot’s “Little Gidding” remarks that “the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

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On a sunny Saturday in September, AISB’s famed football field merged past and present, as our football players of yore played against our 2019/20 team, in the annual Reunion Match. An alumni-organized event, former players from around the globe play against younger − and often fitter − versions of themselves. One day a year, AISB becomes the laughter-inducing, sweat-filled and hallowed grounds of “Little Gidding”.

“The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.� page # 23

ON FIGURING LIFE OUT by Linn Ternsjö ('12)


t has been almost eight years since I graduated from AISB. A lot has changed since then. For one I’ve moved back to my home country Sweden, and I just started my PhD in Economic History with a focus on sustainable development. On the other hand, a lot is very much the same. I still love to engage in global issues. The only difference is that instead of speaking at assemblies and encouraging the school to offset its carbon footprint and to sell exclusively Fairtrade coffee, I’m researching similar issues defined by the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How, for example, can we accelerate transformations of existing production and consumption systems (SDG 12)? And what are the historical parallels?

I still love to be active. I was far from the best at swimming or cross country running at AISB, but the sense of community and belonging was always incredible. Wherever I’ve been since then I’ve always made an effort to be part of a sports group, and I’ve had some of the best conversations on a hiking trail. Above all, I still love to learn new things and to be in international contexts. Otherwise I wouldn’t have moved as much as I have since graduating high school. My years at AISB have been very formative of who I am today. I went there between 5th and 12th grade after all, and my mum still teaches at the school. Before moving to Budapest I attended a Victorian primary school in the English countryside. Apart from hearing an array of different English accents on my first day at AISB, I remember being amazed at how I was suddenly able to wear (almost) whatever I wanted and

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that I was encouraged to speak up and express my opinions. Long gone were the itchy school uniforms and worn classrooms with a teacher lecturing in front of thirty children.

Over the years I made amazing friends, not least thanks to all the community service activities I enjoyed being part of. One of the bigger things I started together with Evelyn Cools and the support of Mr Burns, was the “Senegal Project”. We came in contact with a school for young children living in poverty and after visiting it ourselves, we initiated a fundraiser and sponsorship program for three students. With the help of Madame Fabiny, we raised awareness across AISB by linking the project to World Language Week. As far as I’m aware, the project is still ongoing. Since then, my commitment to global issues has taken slightly different forms. I studied Economics and Development at SOAS, University of London, before taking a year out to intern at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Embassy in Rwanda. I remember being insecure about my Swedish, having grown up abroad, but at the same time I had dreamt of doing this for a while. In hindsight I’m happy I was brave enough to take on such a new challenge with no guarantees. It gave me confidence and perspective going back to my studies.

My years at AISB have been very formative of who I am today.


n 2016 I started my Master in International Development and Management and the year after, I moved to Ethiopia to intern for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). I ended up staying eight months, and I left the comfortable bubble of the United Nations toward the end to conduct field research on women’s employment in the garment industry. I was interested in finding out the experiences of women factory workers, which led to countless hours of catching minibuses around Addis Ababa and interviewing incredibly resilient women whose opinions had sometimes never previously been asked for.

At the beginning of 2019 I left my job as a Sustainability Consultant for EY to oversee the second phase of a project called the Green Assets Wallet, the first blockchain platform for validating green bonds

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and reporting on green impact. Having previously worked for some very large organizations, it was fascinating to work in a small startup environment in the nexus between fintech and sustainability.

More recently I’ve thought about how I can best make a difference, and it’s what has led me to my current role. I’ve only just started my PhD in Economic History at Lund University School of Economics and Management and also the Agenda 2030 Graduate School. I’m not studying this subject because I’m interested in how countries can grow as fast as possible based on past experiences, but rather because I’m interested in understanding societies and how we can address pressing challenges such as inequality, poverty, and accelerating climate change. I genuinely hope it will enable me to make a bigger impact later on, be it in research, government policy or elsewhere.

I even had the chance to speak on a panel in Kazakhstan, about our platform and its potential to step up investments needed to deliver on the Paris Climate Agreement and the SDGs. A few months later I found myself organizing a workshop in Kenya with the Nairobi Securities Exchange and International Financial Centre Authority. On all these occasions, I’ve felt just as nervous, but at the same time it’s been very fulfilling to work on something that I believe is making a difference.

Having said this, the above can sometimes feel like a lot of pressure when you’re just trying to figure out life and what step to take next. Personally I think that being a kind person and helping who you can, when you can is very powerful. That also makes a big difference! For those of you who are still at AISB, I encourage you to take advantage of everything that the school has to offer. Find a cause that you feel compelled to do and have the courage to sometimes try something out of your comfort zone.

I believe everyone has the ability to do good in their own way. You can get involved in your local community, donate to organizations that are working on important global issues, or you can carve out a career for yourself that has a positive impact on the world.

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CLASS OF 2020 Congratulations class of 2020! You’re about to embark on the next chapter of your life yet it must feel so unfinished. This is not how you all envisioned it to be. You may be feeling loss, anger, frustration and that’s okay. This too shall pass and when it does, you will have some of the greatest stories and memories to share. You will have shown more resilience than any class before you and we are proud of your journey and what you have all become! Now step into the world and do all that you can. This situation cannot take away who you are, nor dim your dreams and goals. So go be the creative, resilient, resourceful, caring and strong young adults that we know you to be and turn this experience into a positive life lesson. You've got this, class of 2020!

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486 518 km


University of Melbourne


MODUL University Webster University Vienna


Simon Fraser University The University of British Columbia - Vancouver University of Calgary University of Toronto - St. George University of Waterloo Western University


American University of Paris


International Business School Budapest McDaniel College Budapest


Eindhoven University of Technology Maastricht University University of Amsterdam University of Groningen University of Twente Utrecht University Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


École Hoteliere de Lausanne

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United Kingdom

Aberystwyth University Brighton and Sussex Medical School Bristol, University of the West of England Brunel University London Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London Cass Business School Durham University Glasgow School of Art Goldsmiths, University of London Imperial College London King's College London, University of London Leeds College of Music Liverpool Hope University Loughborough University Newcastle University Plymouth Marjon University (St Mark & St John) Queen Mary University of London Richmond, The American International University in London St Mary's University, Twickenham UCL (University College London)

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United Kingdom

University for the Creative Arts University of Aberdeen University of Bath University of Birmingham University of Bristol University of Derby University of Essex University of Exeter University of Hertfordshire University of Huddersfield University of Leeds University of Leicester University of Liverpool University of Manchester University of Northampton University of Nottingham University of Oxford University of Portsmouth University of Reading University of Sheffield University of St Andrews University of Sussex University of the Arts London University of Warwick University of Westminster, London University of Winchester University of York

9 countries


United States of America

Brown University California State Polytechnic University-Pomona California State University-Chico Case Western Reserve University Colgate University Fordham University George Mason University George Washington University James Madison University Lafayette College Middlebury College Milwaukee School of Engineering Northeastern University Occidental College Ohio State University-Main Campus Old Dominion University Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus Portland State University Pratt Institute-Main Purdue University-Main Campus Quinnipiac University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Rowan University Saint Michael's College Saint Peter's University School of the Art Institute of Chicago Seton Hall University The College of New Jersey University of California-Davis University of California-Irvine University of California-Los Angeles University of California-Merced University of California-Riverside University of California-San Diego University of California-Santa Cruz University of Colorado Boulder University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Kentucky University of Massachusetts-Amherst University of Minnesota-Twin Cities University of Oregon University of Redlands University of Vermont University of Virginia-Main Campus University of Washington-Seattle Campus University of Wisconsin-Madison Whitman College

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TOGETHERNESS ALEX HEMINGWAY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 How being together while apart helps… By Magda Gray (Advancement Director)

2020 has evolved in a way none of us would have expected. It is a year we would rather have gone in another direction, a year when many thousands of people around the world experienced the sudden agonising loss of loved ones at the hands of a borderless bug. COVID-19 took us all by surprise, stopped our lives in their paths and turned them on their heads. The world was hit from all sides by unprecedented health and economic crises, uniting the entire human race in a battle to contain and eradicate the spread. We, as individuals and societies, were wholly unprepared for the lifestyle changes which we needed to implement. Overall, we responded, followed guidelines and stood ready to continually adapt in this historic time.

How will we look back on this time, how will we identify with our personal mission in adapting to the change and what will we say we learned? Those of us touched lightly by this invisible enemy were told to deploy patience and stay home, to slow the crisis that took over our planet. Resilience, hope and unity became our collective mantras. As we watched the global scenario unfold into new directions daily, core values surfaced and instinctive, shared behaviors took over our homes and the internet. A global

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movement of optimism gave birth to the #WeAreInThisTogether, #StaySafeStayHome, #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan, #WithMe, #ImDoingFineBecause, #QuarantineandChill and #ViralKindness, showing that a significant count of our fellow humans have taken to positive, inspiring “we can do this” movements. In social media streams as in life, positive momentum can stick and fuel a developing movement for good.

What was it that triggered viral positive behaviors and gave us hope amongst an otherwise gloomy outlook? Could it be that in our need for control in an otherwise powerless scenario, we overwhelmingly embrace the good? One take on this, from the ‘Greater Good Science” team at Berkley, is focused around our helplessness in this situation and our primordial instinct to gain some sense of control somewhere. The place where our power can be honed is in the choices we make about how we will live this new reality, how we will look back and say we handled this. It is encouraging that much of this energy goes to helping those in need. The world is teeming with examples of amazing community heroism, acts of kindness and support movements.

When we feel helpless, we may tamp down our innate instinct to care for others, particularly at a time like now when the scale of need and suffering is so great. [...] For non-essential workers, our normal ways of volunteering or helping our neighbors might not be possible in an era of physical distancing. But creative forms of communal generosity are still alive and well during COVID-19. Following inspiring news stories can give us ideas for ways to contribute– from making masks to writing letters to elderly neighbors.1 We are proud to see within our wider AISB community that this rings true. From uplifting videos from the faculty, virtual counselling support, happy hours, a series of alumni Zooms, ex-Faculty Zooms, virtual playdates and virtual camp-outs, the community has never felt more united. Parents have been delivering homemade granola to their children’s teachers; colleagues have been helping each other shop and delivering homemade brownies to each other. Birthdays

were celebrated with communal drivebys and present drops, and with socially distanced celebrations. Key activities on the AISB Calendar, such as spirit weeks, socials, Cabaret, graduation and others, were poignantly transferred to a virtual format. This year, our through school Green Team and Environment Action Club took Earth Week online, challenging families to stand for

the environment by changing their lifestyles for the week. Families were called to inspire others and create a movement of lasting positive impact. As we experienced a paring down of our essential values and motivations and spent time away from each other as a community, the core values which bring us together floated to the surface of our emotional pools, leading us to cherish caring relationships, acts of kindness and the human connections we all need to thrive.

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“For a Community to be Whole and Healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other” Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity Much of what we do for positive change can inspire our community and help nurture a movement, for feelings triggered by initiating positive action bring enduring personal rewards. As The Greater Good Science Center team can confirm;

“It’s the little things we do– the daily routines, the way we deal with our emotions, and our care for others– that will remind us our actions make a difference.”2

Could that be how our Blazer Spirit will come through at this time? By helping each other and looking beyond our isolation to see we are part of a bigger whole, and by seeing ourselves as key players on a planet, in an ecosystem, as a people who heal better together.

1&2: to_stop_feeling_so_helpless_during_quarantine

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he AISB Green Care program has been set up to encourage and implement environmentally conscious projects and primarily student-driven initiatives. Using project-based learning, our teachers challenge our students to design a variety of inspiring and practical projects, in order to raise awareness and benefit both the environment and the local community.

All student initiatives foster a green mindset, from installing blinds to shade and cool rooms, to gradually exchanging old lighting for LED lights, to promoting such green choices as reducing our use of air conditioning and turning off unnecessary lights. Each initiative within the Green Care program enables and empowers our community to take another firm step towards sustainability. The Green Care program is a win for the school, a win for the environment and a win for all our students, as it affords an opportunity to take these projects from concept to fundraising to implementation.

We aim to share the successful implementation of these projects with you through our social media and AISB website. We are always happy to hear from sustainability-minded alums interested in inspiring our students with your journeys and ideas for a greener world!

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ast summer was my 10 year anniversary of arriving in Budapest for the first time. When I first set foot in Budapest, in July of 2009 at Keleti Pályaudvar, the first thing that struck me as I got off the train was the heat. It was well into the summer evening, it was dark, and yet the heat of the day still lingered. Looking back now, temperature data shows that the highest temperature in the month I arrived was 35°C. And yet last summer, a decade later in 2019, the highest temperature recorded in July was only 33°C. The hottest temperature of July decreased despite another decade of emissions flowing into the atmosphere. So is all the excitement and concern in the news about the ancient forests of Amazon and Australia a waste of your time and cognitive capital? Is Greta just opportunistic? Is climate change just a hoax concocted by liberal elitists trying to further fill their coffers? Well, no.

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Is climate change just a hoax concocted by liberal elitists trying to further fill their coffers?

Choosing two dates and simply comparing them doesn’t show the full picture. The temperature is influenced by individual weather events, which (in the defence of weather reporters) are unpredictable, as countless factors drive weather changes in individual days, weeks and even months.


Global Temperature Anomaly (°C) between 1988 and 2018







Instead, the accepted definition in the science community of climate change is a changing temperature trend over a minimum of a 30 year period. And although it is only 10 years since 2009, using appropriate, scientifically sound considerations, evidence shows that between 2009 and 2019 the average annual temperature in Budapest and the surrounding area has increased by 0.5°C. This brings Budapest to a total increase in temperatures of 1.8°C compared to the average temperature (called a baseline) between 1951 and 1980. Looking into the future, depending on how effectively we remove atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions, we can see Budapest facing temperature increases between 2.1°C and 5.9°C by 2100. What I tried to anecdotally illustrate above is one way in which sceptics attempt to cast doubt on climate change through specific selection of data that favours their view. This process is called cherry-picking and gained popularity in the late 00’s when data on global temperatures was selectively chosen to suggest that ‘global warming has stopped’.

































The period selected by sceptics, 14 years between 1998 and 2012 (see Figure 1), indicated that global temperatures had stagnated – casting doubt on the science of climate change. What had actually happened was a particularly strong warming event in the Pacific Ocean called El Niño, in 1998, which raised global temperatures significantly and made the following 13 years appear as if the globe were no longer warming.

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Global Temperature Anomaly (°C) between 1998 - 2012


0.8 0,7 0,6 0,5 0,4 0,3 0,2 0,1

However, as was mentioned earlier, the amount of years sampled was not large enough to show the gradual upward temperature trend of our changing climate. If the years are extended from 1998 to 2018 (the accepted 30 year benchmark; see Figure 2), the upward trend becomes more apparent. Prominent climate scientists criticised climate contrarians “whose sort of cherrypicking […] would even put the very best fruit farmer to shame”.

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In our age of easily accessible information, it is important to act as one’s own sceptic about online material; to question whether everything one reads is grounded in fact or whether the publisher has a vested interest in misleading public perceptions. Another (and sadly still all too common) misconception of climate change dispersed by sceptics is that we appear to be in a natural cycle of warming on Earth. Although it is true that our planet periodically cools and warms, it occurs on a timescale of tens or hundreds of millennia – not in a period of about 150 years, as we are seeing today. There have been periods on Earth when it was much hotter and much colder, but in all of those cases, slow geological transition allowed species to adapt to their subtly changing environments. The current warming is abrupt and a result of anthropogenic (human) activities.

There are numerous climate myths that circulate information sources online and in other forms of mass media. Think twice the next time you come across an article that states higher CO2 concentrations are good for plant growth. The greenhouse effect results in a net loss of crop yield when compared to the benefits of abundant CO2 to aid crop growth.

The sun is not actually getting hotter; it teeters in cycles of about 11 years, based on sunspot count and the changes in its radiation that are nearly imperceptible. And no, China is not solely responsible for climate change, as Europe, the US and other developed countries have built their wealth through exploitation of the environment since the industrial revolution, when there was no regulation on emissions. They are largely the reason why our atmospheric concentrations are as high as they are now. But there are solutions. Solutions that are even profitable, that optimise business operations, that create jobs, that raise national GDP’s, and that yield other economic benefits if policy tools and technology are carefully implemented. If we look through a lens of economics, it becomes clear that one can be agnostic in his belief about climate change and still recognise that the colour of money is now officially green.

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ALEX WE ASKED, HEMINGWAY YOU ANSWERED What was your favorite spot at AISB? Nathalie Nagy Privett (‘94) At the Csilleberc bufe!

Your favorite canteen food was…

Nehmi Klaassen (‘95)

Bufe, drama room, Trombitas, Morrisson's! (when my mom allowed me).

James J. Gadsden (‘99)

At Csilleberc there was the library at lunch for movies, the paintball arena and the Bufe. But who could forget Marxims, "Cheaps", the Jazz Cafe, and of course Morrison's.

Krista Martinson Hale (‘99)

Lobby of the main building at Csilleberc... would get a Kit Kat or Milky Way rolls from the little store there and sit and talk/yell with friends who were at the very top of the stairs. Also enjoyed watching travelers come in and out to check in a hotel.

Jose Camilo Vasquez (‘99)

Back in the '90s we didn't have a school cafeteria. We used to go to the bufe and buy a meleg sandwich! Class of '99 probably remembers these days and these meals.

Petra Szalai (‘00)

No lunch menu when I was there 1995-2000. Big cheese and hot dogs at Csilleberc.

Adnan Fathy ('16)

Half-chicken with potatoes.

Melissa Arbuthnott ('18)

Schnitzel, pizza, vadas, borsófőzelék.

Petra Szalai (‘00) Csilleberc drama room.

Attila Takats (‘02)

Blazer Dome or the football pitches!

Mary-Ann Sullivan (Middle School Principal 1997-2002) Cross country skiing at Normafa before school with Otilia Hollanda, or at least trying to keep up with her, then getting ready for the day in the lovely Blazer Dome locker room.

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Mazen Fathy ('18)

Easyyy! The half-chicken with potato salad. Don't need to think twice.

Jennifer Kular (teacher 1995 - 2004) At Csillebérc we would meet for a kakaos csiga at the white wrought iron tables at the Bufe. And at the NK campus, the rakott krumpli and rakott káposzta were my favourites!

What is your favorite memory from AISB?

Judit Markovitz ('95)

Nathalie Nagy Privett ('94)

Sverre Rakkenes ('96)

Too many to list, since I spent 10 years attending AISB.

Matthew Wilde ('94)

Creating lifelong friendships .

Playing volleyball was always very much fun!

Mihoby Rabeharison (‘97)

School trip to Slovenia and Italy.

Raiding Mr. Wilkinson's costume closet during IB theater for my outfit for the week.

Tibor Besedes ('95)

Leonie Leliveld ('98)

Billy Bradley ('95)

Petra Szalai ('00)

My friends from all over.

My friends

Peter Katona (‘95)

A classmate was asked, as we all were, to fill out his bio for the yearbook section dedicated to Class of 1995 Seniors. He wrote "No." That's what was in his space: "No." This creative answer inspires me still! It's impossible to pick one favorite memory. Do I choose in-school laughs, the rustic old Csilleberc campus, the bufe and interesting classes? Do I choose the fun on weekends with people who have become lifelong friends? The Grad Review, when we mocked and satirized the faculty... and they did the same to us? A prom boat, a Science Academy graduation, or the promise of a beautiful new campus we knew we would never be a part of... and it's okay that way!? Do I choose the basketball team, debate, connecting with the faculty to become better and more curious students, or learning to love the city with unique, diverse, and incredible people? At AISB my peers and teachers taught me to think for myself, so, "No": I refuse to choose one favorite memory.

Nehmi Klaassen ('95)

Drama class with Mr. Wilkinson

The friends I made!

Csilleberc Campus, fall trips, sport weekend competitions.

Alessandro Sparta (‘01)

The amazing vibes, love, absolute support of pursuing our dreams as well as ambitions, and mainly the unbreakable bond of our class of 2001. It was a real blast. I loved every moment of it, since I attended prekindergarten and graduated on the new campus in 2001; all my years of experiences, friends, teachers, adventures, projects, you name it... All are priceless and unique. Remembering the journey fills my heart with warmth and love. In lower school I remember the tombolas, and especially Halloween, when John Johnson was dressed up as a witch making a witch's potion. What I really missed were the middle school and high school dances (in the Blazer Dome in Csilleberc), and also the field school trips at the beginning of every school year. The last days of school always had their magic moments as well: the water fights, the laughter, the grill parties. But still, I remember having to say goodbye to some of my dear friends...

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yet it was always remedied when we all signed our year books. Those were beautiful moments. I am very grateful to have attended such a wonderful place with so many unique, dear, dear friends and teachers.

Nadia Stewart (‘07)

Senior year - every single minute of it. My 5 years at AISB were unforgettable - all the fall trips, the sports tournaments (met my husband at one of the sports tournaments, he went to the other AISB), the lifelong friendships, and the amazing teachers. I tell people I went to the best high-school and I honestly believe I did.

Dominika Őze ('10)

I have many good memories, but mostly I’m glad for getting to know the people who became my friends.

Li Wang (‘10)

The beautiful campus and getting to take PE classes outside in nature. I also loved that our class spelled out 2010 with chairs and classmates towards the end of the year and were able to take a bird’s eye photo of it.

XiaoCheng Ji ('14) Being involved in sports.

Andrea Leiva (‘08)

AISB is an inspiring community that teaches great life lessons to everyone who sets foot in it. From its front door, where all the students' country f lags are displayed, you learn to respect and appreciate diversity. Its teaching community teach you with love to be a critical thinker, to try new things and be disciplined, like Mrs. Dorrell who taught me to not be afraid to perform in front of an audience the Theatre of the Absurd and to be absurd; like Mrs. Kish, who taught me the art of writing with a purpose; like Madame Abboud, who taught me a new language with love and patience; the list can go on, and on... And lastly, its student community, who no matter how different we were, cherished and trusted each other. I made great friends at AISB, learned from great people and was lucky to attend this school.

Tessa Caballero ('10)

Probably memories made with the girls on the Varsity Basketball and Volleyball teams. We had a lot of good times together traveling for games and tournaments.

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Timea-Laura Tifan (‘14)

I very much enjoyed the trips we took, both the autumn ones but also the sports ones. Also, I loved art class and the creative freedom that came with it. Besides these, I enjoyed the friendships and connections I made during my time at AISB. I still keep in touch with classmates and teachers.

Marie Van Aalst ('14)

Fall trip senior year, Slovenia action trip.

Robert Connell ('15)

My favourite memory is winning the SCIS MS boys volleyball tournament in 8th grade, which was hosted by AISB in 2011. It was a drawn out match to the 5th set, when we made a massive comeback against in the 5th set Frankfurt. The crowd erupted in a massive cheer as the final ball touched the ground.

Bouvan Rooij ('15)

8th grade fall trips, Rudnicki's classes and football session.

Adnan Fathy ('16) Social freedom.

Floris Kibedi Varga ('16)

I’ve made countless fond memories during my time at AISB. Therefore, I find it hard to narrow it down to one. I would pick being part of the Grease ensemble as well as going on CEESA trips to play sports as the top contenders.

Melissa Arbuthnott ('18)

All the opportunities we got to travel BERMUN, THIMUN, basketball CEESA tournament, fall trips, the musical.

Mazen Fathy ('18)

I think the social freedom we had and the chemistry that the whole institution had was what I think I will always remember. Also, lunchtime football was hype.

What helps you maintain balance in your life during the COVID-19 pandemic?

messages of positivity and acceptance. Stayin' Alive, Let It Be and Wind of Change to name a few. I don't read the news because it always depresses me. It also helps that I've been assigned to manage a group for international students of my university that aims to prevent feeling totally socially isolated and alone. It's good for me too.

Coralie Clark (MS/HS Librarian 1994-2013) Supporting a sick and self-isolating neighbour - makes me value my health. I am also grateful for the wonderful international life-style I have enjoyed - if I can't travel, at least I have memories and friends.

Tom Parsons (Counselor 2000-2005)

Trust in your true self and living through love and light.

Mary-Ann Sullivan (MS Principal 1997-2002) Checking on friends, neighbors, doing Gyrokinesis online, practicing transcendental meditation, walking my dog, reading AISB yearbooks from the late '90s - early 2000s.

Vlasta Ostojic (‘98)

Meditation, work, books, vegetable soups, but mainly avoiding sensationalist news stories exploiting the situation, and people reading and disseminating these. Can't go out for walks so I got my yoga mat out and am doing Sun Salutations with Abba music which I warmly recommended it's really uplifting and great exercise, I'm personally totally OK.

Gábor Diósi (‘16)

What balance? But for real though, I'm listening to music with

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When language learning connects with service and real life experiences By Delinka Fabiny (Middle School French Teacher since 1991)


he connection started in 2011, when Linn and Evelyn, two seniors, proposed to take language learning beyond the AISB classroom and into the real world. Within the framework of their French class, they initiated the “Senegal Project” to support children with needs to attend the school ”Les Cajoutiers” in Warang, Senegal.

Gradually, the school community joined this initiative: the PSA decided to support a child and NHS students helped raise funds at different events to contribute to the building of the Warang school’s new classrooms. The idea of a service trip to Senegal emerged and first took place in October 2012. The trip became an annual tradition during the October break. On seven occasions, High School students and teachers have embarked on a

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discovery of culture, language, art and music, all while meeting and working with local people.

Typically, during the trip, mornings are spent at the Warang school supporting the students’ learning and afternoons involve cultural immersion activities, where we learn about the everyday life of the local community, including customs and traditions. Our journey includes visits to sites like the Pink Lake and the Bandia animal park, a magnificent animal sanctuary with species from Africa.

Our trip is not complete without a visit to the weekly market, where we find ourselves in the middle of a diverse cultural experience: vendors from a range of ethnic groups gather in the town to sell their goods, cattle, food, but also fabrics, jewelry and thousands of other products. We also catch a glimpse into the typical local life in a bush or fishing community and are exposed to the dynamics of the Warang students’ extended families. Discovering the Island of Gorée, we learn about the slave trade, a moment that always confronts us with our past and makes us reflect on the constant need to fight for human rights. Back at AISB, as part of the project, Elementary School and Middle School students write letters to pen pals in Senegal. The letters’ topics are directly linked with the units students are studying. Students are thrilled to get a response to their letters from their new pen pals in Warang. “There is a component of happiness, they are learning about us and we are learning about them”, ref lects a Middle School student of French. As part of the project’s service component, we contributed to the Warang school’s expansion with new classes for children who are hearing impaired and for children with Down syndrome.

“Les Cajoutiers” also established a boarding house for children who are hearing impaired: in 2016, the AISB community contributed bed sheets and towels for all the new residents. A year later, we contributed a fully equipped badminton court. Last year, we brought sports equipment (footballs, jumping ropes etc.) and organized an international snack exchange to get to know each other better. As a sign of our friendship, we painted a mural on the school’s wall together.

Over the past few years, we have also gotten engaged with the local Sage Hospital as well and contributed to the medical center’s needs. In Warang, while students of French participate in the regular classroom activities, students who are not studying French are with the pre-school kids and the deaf and mute students. Students in the High School Senegal Project Activity also created two books to raise funds: “Yaya et son étoile” (“Yaya and his star”) a bilingual book for young kids written and illustrated by AISB students. The other book, “Histoires du Sénégal” (“Stories from Senegal”), is based on stories and drawings by students from “Les Cajoutiers”. Every year, we have created cards with photographs from Senegal to sell at AISB events. During our last trip in October 2019, we also decided to raise awareness about the natural environment. Vilma took the initiative to make a presentation to the grade 6 class about two of the Sustainable Development Goals that we studied in the French class. She made a poster with Goals 13 and 14 and asked the students to think about solutions and ideas about protecting our environment. Understanding that we have to act locally to be part of global change, we also planted trees together in front of the school.

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What is the impact of this project on us here at AISB? One of the participants in this year’s trip, Laura KV, understood that the personal interactions with the Warang community “allow to view others with the lense of deep empathy”. She concluded that “alongside poverty and despair, I saw true happiness. The happiness that can exist anywhere if we stay on course and do not lose sight of what is important, appreciating the opportunities that we have, valuing small moments in life, developing meaningful connections and caring for one another.”

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The happiness that can exist anywhere if we stay on course and do not lose sight of what is important, appreciating the opportunities that we have, valuing small moments in life, developing meaningful connections and caring for one another.

Our annual Budapest Alumni Reunion took place on the 31st of May, 2019 at the NagykovĂĄcsi campus. Over 50 alumni returned to campus to reconnect with former teachers and reminisce with other Blazers. It was truly a memorable experience for all!

Budapest 2019


Amsterdam 2020 The alumni reunion in Amsterdam happened on the 31st of January, at The Student Hotel Amsterdam City. It was great to see the many alums who traveled from The Hague, Rotterdam and even Maastricht just to meet and catch up with other AISB alumni. We would like to especially thank Floris Kibedi-Varga (‘16) for helping us coordinate this wonderful event. It was a great success.

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New York 2020 Our second official New York reunion took place on the 7th of February, at The Playwright Irish Pub in midtown Manhattan. Everyone had an amazing time catching up with friends, classmates, and teachers. Special thanks to Lilla Varga (‘17) for her support organizing the alumni meet. Here is Dr. Jalics’s (teacher 2000- 2015) report on the event:

We are looking forward to seeing you at our upcoming reunions London (TBD) California (TBD) Budapest (currently planned for 28th May 2021)

I had a great time at the 2020 AISB reunion in New York. I had gone to the last two reunions on the east coast and this time there were different alumni from previous years. It was wonderful to see so many past students who have since graduated college and are pursuing graduate degrees or working in impressive jobs. It is humbling to see how much appreciation the former students feel towards their teachers. I enjoyed reconnecting with students and look forward to attending future events.

Follow our updates on our AISB Alumni Social Media (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram) or contact our alumni office ( to find out more and register. We can’t wait to get together again for more Blazer love!

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CLASS NOTES Matthew Wilde (‘94)

Tibor Besedes (‘95)

I try to do as much snowboarding, mountain biking and traveling as I can between working and enjoying time with my awesome wife and four kids. We hope to go to Hungary again someday!

I am a professor of economics at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. I am married and have a 12-year old son. Currently, as many others, I am dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and figuring out how to teach my courses online. Over the last few years I have been fortunate to be able to catch up with old AISB friends from Finland to Chile.

Nathalie Nagy Privett (‘94) My husband and 9 year old daughter are currently living in Budapest, Hungary since 2012. Since 2003 my best friend Yana Flaksman (also a former AISB student) and I own our own travel company, Boutique Journeys, specializing in arranging customized, high-end travel to Hungary and Central Europe.

Billy Bradley (‘95) Living in Indianapolis, IN and working for a Spirits and Wine Distribution Company

Nehmi Klaassen (‘95) I’m living in Amsterdam, NL with my husband and two boys (2 yo and 8 yo). I moved here in 2007 from Budapest, my husband is from the south of Holland (we met in Budapest!). I am currently working for a company called Kambr and about to launch the agency side of the brand, called Yellow Cat Five. In my spare time I enjoy practicing yoga and spinning and of course, I still love to travel and try to get out as much as possible.

Judit Markovitz (‘95) I live in Israel, married with 3 children, aged 3, 9 and 12. I am a therapist and currently work at the American International School in Israel.

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Pete Jones (‘95) I currently own and operate an apartment rental and Airbnb business in Hungary. I have been doing it for 15 years and I love holding seminars about property, Airbnb, bank loans and investments at my seminars. I coach people online as well as at my seminars. My seven year old son has inspired me to write children’s books which are available on amazon. com and throughout Eastern Europe. My book, The Beggar King, is available in all book stores throughout hungary (A kolduskirály), and I have just signed with Pegasus publishers in the UK for the worldwide rights. In short, I currently own and manage 4 apartment hotel businesses in Budapest which I started in 2006. I started by renting one apartment in Akacfa street and then growing it to more than 100 apartments 10 yrs later. I have gained a lot of wisdom and have also lost some businesses on the way. (Like my pancake restaurant I started in Osaka, Japan before I moved to Hungary).

Csaba Sandberg (‘96) I graduated from AISB in ‘96 and spent two years in Hungary studying and working, while I was trying to get into a Swedish university (Swedish unis were not very happy with the IB back then so I had to do a bunch of additional studies). I moved between several universities in Sweden and got my master of law degree in 2003 in Stockholm. In 2004, I started working for a Swedish agency in the field of civilian crisis management. By 2008, I was fed up with saving the world and moved into the private sector working with IT and ICT security. Our son was born the same year. In 2011 my family and I left Stockholm and moved to The Hague where I started working for Eurojust, and EU agency coordinating the work of judges and prosecutors in fighting serious cross border crime. I am still working with IT and ICT sec and am currently the acting head of the IT department.

Lenka Keleova (‘99)

Sverre Rakkenes (‘96)

Alessandro Sparta (‘01)

I have started a new job in a government housing bank. I work in the platform team.

I am currently pursuing my dreams of Consulting, Coaching and Cooking as not long ago I have decided to really live my life to the fullest, in my own accord, thus, after the COVID-19 is over and done with, I will have already decided to which sunny beach I would like to move to. In the meantime, I am currently developing my own website where I teach/ cook/consult/coach via video calls on www. and once there is the freedom to travel, I will definitely visit my Instagram fans, where we will be Vloging/cooking/posting on @sandroskitchen. One thing I can say, is that my road to this point was not easy, it was really tough.... So no matter what life throws at you, never give up on yourself, and remember who you are, how great you are.

Karoline Thompson (Szurgyi) (‘98) Quick recap of the last 22 years - went to college for aviation management and learned how to fly planes, did transportation management for the US Army and deployed to Iraq 3 times, left the work force and got married. Became an instant mom to 2, had 5 more, and chose to stay home with them. Currently living a blessed life in western Wisconsin.

Leonie Leliveld (‘98)

I have been living in Spain for a few years now, as my husband is from here. I work in international HR for a global American company. After AISB I lived in the Czech Republic and Italy, before settling down in Spain.

Prakhar Bisht (‘00) I am currently teaching sociology. I remember that time when our campus was in Budapest.

Petra Szalai (‘00) I founded an International School.

I work as crisis coordinator for the Ministry of Health in the Netherlands. Currently on corona, enough to do! Any spare time, I spend with my husband and two boys (age 9 and 10).

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Diana Andrabi (‘03)

Andrea Leiva (‘08)

Since graduating in 2003 I have lived in 7 countries and worked many jobs in the area of aviation sales. Currently I am happily living in England as an expat, and making plans for the next chapter in my life.

I currently live in Guadalajara, Mexico. Have a degree in Communication Studies and work for IBM as a Business Advisor. Married, no kids, and a great desire to move abroad again and pursue a similar expat experience.

Sandy Slavinskaya (‘04) Upon graduation from AISB, I moved to Boston, MA, a city that subsequently became my permanent home. I went to Boston University and graduated with honors degree in Political Science and International Relations. I chose a career in finance and for the past 10 years have been working as an analyst on one of Morgan Stanley’s top wealth management teams. Aside from work, I have married my soulmate, Sergey, in 2011, and we have two wonderful children, Victoria (4) and our newest addition, Daniel. I enjoy spending time with my family and in my spare time volunteer in the local community.

Naomi Sianturi Clancy (‘09) Married and living in Norfolk, VA.

Tessa Caballero (‘10) Last year I started a new position at General Dynamics IT as a Sr. Program Analyst on a US Department of State contract. The contract has started a new program that I was hired to join under the Armored Vehicles division within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in the Washington, DC area.

EJ Jeong-Shimizu (‘10) Top English-Korean Conference Interpreter, active in multilateral and bilateral collaborations between governments, private sector entities in extremely diverse settings with 14 years of experience. Also a proud mom to a multilingual 10-year-old boy who is always a ray of sunshine, blessed to be married to the love of my life.

Dominika Őze (‘10) I live in Budapest and currently working at a multinational company. I love communicating with people and getting to know other cultures. I like to travel and get familiar with the history of places.

Mackenzie Harrinton (‘10) I just moved to North Carolina to help my company open up a new site and got promoted

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to Assistant Manager of Main Manufacturing. Working for IDT to produce oligonucleotides.

Bin Zou (‘10) Living in San Francisco, California. Working at Apple in technical operations for hardware manufacturing.

Li Wang (‘10) I’m currently a healthcare lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Los Angeles after graduating from UCLA School of Law. In my free time I enjoy staying active and connecting with friends, including keeping in touch with AISB alumni.

Nora Fuzesi (‘14) I received my Bsc from Suffolk University in Psychology in Boston, MA, USA. Then I Moved to London, UK to complete my Msc in Crime and Forensic Science at University College of London. Then I decided to further pursue psychology and started a MSc in Behaviour Analysis and Investigative Interviewing at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. I also hold multiple certificates from the Paul Ekman Group. I am planning on opening my private practice in Budapest, Hungary, in 2020. I will be working with children, couples and families.

XiaoCheng Ji (‘14) I am doing import and export trading between many countries in EU with China. I own a retail website for E-Commerce in Hungary. Also, I invest in stocks and real estate businesses in New York.

Krisztian Feher (‘14) I have written my first novel, but I’m still looking for publishers so I don’t have much to say about that now. But perhaps by the next edition of the Magazine it will be more timely.

Timea-Laura Tifan Gy (‘14) Currently, I am finishing up my MA in Architecture in the UK while working freelance as a graphic designer and illustrator. Following this, I am planning on opening my own design/ architecture practice within the next 5-6 years after gaining some professional experience.

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Gabriela Siovolgyi (‘15) After graduating in 2015, I completed my bachelor’s in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kent and completed my master’s in Health Psychology from University College London. I am currently working for the Department of Health and Social Care UK to introduce new policies to reduce obesity rates in children and adults. Apart from research, I am also a psychologist for the National Health Service working with adults suffering from anxiety and depression. Finally, I am working in the field of clinical psychology at a private practice in London with families, children and adults, with a focus on neuro-development disorders.

Robert Connell (‘15) Currently studying a masters of science “MSc Carbon Management” at the University of Edinburgh. Engaged in a project across the UK to increase businesses engagement with climate action in the cities that they are based in through city-wide commissions, involving city councils, businesses and other stakeholders.

Gábor Diósi (‘16) I am on an epic quest to find meaning and purpose. In a few months I will receive my bachelor degree in European Studies. The current time period is quite busy as I am finishing my thesis, working as an intern for my university and writing several portfolios and papers that must be ready before the end of May. I am staying true to myself by still doing the very important things at the last possible minute. Despite this approach being stressful, I know for a fact that my best work is produced under pressure, and I intend to produce the best quality.

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Léa Louafi (‘16) I am currently studying International studies in the Hague. Next year I will follow a Master program either in Paris or Copenhagen in the field of security and risk management to later enter the governmental aspect of international security.

Adnan Fathy (‘16) I have started working for a tourism company that does adventures around Egypt and across the world! We do skydiving, paragliding, and some diving otherwise I’ve been enjoying my time with my family!

Marcell Földi (‘16) Since graduating from AISB in 2016, I’ve been pursuing my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Amsterdam where I also aim to complete my Master’s degree this coming academic year. Over the past couple of years, I made Amsterdam my home and have grown to enjoy student life there but I never ruled out moving back to Budapest after my studies.

Floris Kibedi Varga (‘16) I graduated from the University of Amsterdam’s PPLE program in 2019. Since then, I have been working at ASIF Ventures, a venture capital fund. We enable young entrepreneurs in Amsterdam by providing seed capital to accelerate their businesses.

Natali Petrás (‘19) After I graduated AISB in 2019, I moved to the Netherlands to study politics, psychology, law and economics at the University of Amsterdam. I truly feel that AISB has prepared me for my start at University, because I feel challenged yet not overwhelmed by the intense curriculum. I’m planning to focus my studies on corporate international law in the future, most likely in a country where I haven’t lived before!

Mujie Yan (‘19) I’m currently studying piano performance in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Due to the pandemic, I’m staying home back in China after my institution moved all our classes online. It has been difficult to have online classes since performance majors rely so heavily on faceto-face interactions and live performances. However, everyone continues to do their best in this special time, keeping up the work and everything else.

We really appreciate your continued contributions for our future editions. Please email your updates with photo to We are also keenly seeking Class Reps to help connect classes as a group. Please let us know if you can help in this role. Thank you.


Brandon Lee ('99)

Brandon Lee, a loving husband, father, trusted friend, confidant, advisor, and member of AISB's class of 1999, lost his battle with depression and passed away on August 29, 2019. Brandon shared with so many the uncommon level of warmth, support, dependability, and care he invested in his relationships. For those that felt his friendship, we will, when the sadness passes, be forever grateful for him. There are so many happy memories of Brandon, and we are hoping to keep Brandon in our hearts and collect stories and pictures to share with his daughter, Ruby as the years go on. Please share a story of Brandon by emailing your funny, heartwarming, or memorable moments to Please share photos and videos to the same email.

Melissa Kieffer (’09) Born October 8, 1990 in Minnesota, Melissa lived a funfilled, adventurous life in many places: Virginia, Singapore, Budapest, and Austin, Texas. Everywhere she went, she touched people’s lives with her warmth and genuine concern for others. In 2011, she became very ill and was diagnosed with the Mitochondrial disease MELAS. As anyone reading this tribute now understands, it was a life-changing diagnosis which forced her to drop out of college and live at home with the support of family and friends. Always hopeful and positive, Melissa turned her passion for cardmaking into a way to spread awareness about mito diseases and raise money for UMDF. Throughout the years, Melissa made over 5000 cards that have been received and enjoyed by people all over the world, including the Queen of Norway and President Trump. Melissa packed her last year of life in 2019 with monumental events: she proudly received the UMDF LEAP Award (Living, Encouraging, Achieving, and Persisting) in Washington, DC. She traveled over 4000 miles across the Midwest visiting family and friends – always smiling and sharing her joyful spirit. She became an aunt in August! She celebrated her 29th birthday and on her last full day on earth, after a fun day of watching football and eating at her favorite restaurant, she shared her faith with her best friend forever: Christopher. On November 11th, 2019, she passed peacefully, surrounded by those who loved and cared for her throughout her journey. Melissa’s family and friends continue her mission to raise awareness and money for UMDF. If you would like to order cards, please email

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When Great Trees Fall By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety. When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear. When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened. Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves. And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.

GOODBYE Saying goodbye to Director Paul Slocombe

After six years of outstanding service at AISB, Paul Slocombe is ready to look for new challenges and will initially be based in California. While the whole school community is sad to see him go, we're happy and grateful for all that he leaves behind.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Liverpool, England and spent 40 years living in the UK.

What did you want to be as a child when you grew up? For many years, I wanted to be a dentist. Then I had an interview and spent a day at the University of Birmingham Dental School and quickly realized I didn't want to be a dentist!

Where was your education and what did you think of it?

My education was supposed to be the finest England had to offer. I passed the 11 plus, an exam taken at that time by all 11-year-olds. Depending on what part of the country you lived in, between 8-12% of the population was selected to attend grammar school, based on the results of the exam. I attended a boys’ grammar school, and while the academic depth was unquestionable, the school experience was dreadful. It was an aggressive, competitive place; there was no relationship with teachers; and daily beatings were a popular outlet for the headmaster, who was a nasty little man. I couldn't wait to leave!

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Why did you want to come to work at AISB?

AISB offered me challenges and experiences that were stimulating and professionally rewarding. Taking over a great school and trying to make it even better was a wonderfully rewarding opportunity for me in the last years of my career.

What are your favorite challenges at work?

Analyzing what we're good at and determining what we need to improve.

Other than the career you chose, what type of work might you have pursued? Most likely medical research.

What is one thing that most people do not yet know about you? When I was young, I grew up in my grandparents’ house. My grandfather had been a well-known soccer referee in England and actually refereed some international games in the 1930s that Hungary played in. I think he refereed the 1939 Ferencváros vs Bologna European Cup Final, right before the start of World War II.

What would be some advice you would give to your graduating self?

You don't get anything in this life without hard work and perseverance. You have to be able to recover from work challenges, and you need to have total integrity. If you want to make money, you need to own your own company!

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WELCOME Meet our new Director, Mr. Brett Penny

We’re excited to welcome our new director, who brings almost 20 years of experience in education to AISB and joins us from the NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Mosgiel, New Zealand. Mosgiel is a small town located near the city of Dunedin, located at the bottom east coast of the South Island. I was raised in Alexandra, Central Otago.

What did you want to be as a child when you grew up?

I wanted to be a police officer and almost took this path. Although I was accepted to the New Zealand Police, I decided my heart was in education.

Where was your education and what did you think of it?

I completed my schooling in Alexandra, a small town of 3,500. In hindsight, I think I was lucky as the education was progressive for the time, and I was fortunate to have motivated, dedicated, and caring teachers. Upon graduation from high school, I moved with the majority of my class to Dunedin to attend the University of Otago. I combined university classes with full-time courses at the Dunedin College of Education, graduating with a Bachelor of Education and Diploma of Teaching. As I reflect on this training, I feel very fortunate for the rigor and depth of the program. I believe my true love for learning was ignited when I completed my Master of Arts at Columbia University as part of a leadership program through the Klingenstein

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Center. This qualification was an incredible springboard for a move into leadership, and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't utilize the skills and knowledge gained from this program. Following this, I completed an MBA in education through Keele University. This course of study was a wonderful opportunity as it pushed me in areas I had not previously studied and had the added challenge of being an online program. It wasn't very easy at times to balance this with my work as an elementary principal and being a father of young children. A lasting memory was the privilege to study with a good friend.

Why do you want to come to work at AISB?

Over the years, I had continually heard great things about AISB through colleagues who worked at the school. This was reinforced when I reached out to the school for reference checks during teacher recruitment. Furthermore, it is clear that the community prioritizes learning and wellbeing, and there are strong values guiding the institution. All of these elements aligned with my beliefs, which made me think it would be a good fit. The most significant endorsement any educator can provide is selecting the school for their own children. I am excited at the prospect that my son Liam and my daughter Hannah will have the chance to graduate from AISB. Finally, the interview process on campus confirmed all of these points to me. I was so impressed with the Board for their support of the school, the teachers' commitment to their work, and the shared moral purpose the leadership team displayed in their roles. When Debbie and I departed AISB last year, we were convinced it was the right place for our family.

What are your favorite challenges at work? I love to solve problems and look for ways to improve learning. The most important challenge I face is how I can positively impact the wellbeing of the community. I take this responsibility very seriously and want to do

my best to ensure that our community grows stronger each day and that individuals feel cared for, appreciated, and are empowered.

What career other than yours would you pursue?

At some stage in my career, I want to contribute to public school education. International school communities are so fortunate as we can employ the best teachers and pair them with outstanding resources. The outcome will always have a positive result. I hope that one day I will be able to repay the investment others have made in me to positively impact a community in a different setting with fewer resources and fewer opportunities.

What is one thing that most people do not yet know about you?

I imagine there will be a lot! On a personal note, I have a love of old Land Rovers. I am restoring a 1960 Series II Land Rover in Canada. It is my retirement project, which I decided to start early while I still have the strength to loosen the rusty bolts!

What would be some advice you would give to your graduating self?

Your learning is only just beginning when you graduate, and the world is filled with incredible opportunities. Approach every challenge as an opportunity.

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COUNSELOR'S CORNER The Value Of Connection


here may not be a more interesting or significant word in the English language than “connection”. We talk with passion about connecting with family, a significant other, a teacher, a teammate, an interviewer, or even a pet, and with a certainty that life would not be the same without this magical and mystical idea. We can only assume that the first couple, Adam and Eve, had this critical chemistry. How else would the guy have taken that fruit on face value and thus condemned mankind to the endless agony of potty training, final exams, taxes and politicians?

Most of the time, the word connection brings to mind significant, positive images, rather than negative ones.

Social and business circles often revolve around the power of connection and how it just might help you get closer to the day when your ship comes in. College applicants hope and pray that impressing a college admissions officer with their own academic and social prowess will save them from forcing their parents to go to their connections and enter psychological debtors’ prison every time they see these people for decades to come. Or worse, they try to use their connection and find there is still no offer of admission. In this case, you have ruined a friendship by exposing someone who thought

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they had more power than they really did, who could only influence as a mere mortal. Careful, careful, my friends. But wait, my argument is now going the other way as I recall my connection at O’Hare Airport in Chicago on my recent holiday return to Budapest. Due to an airline snafu in Pittsburgh, I arrived at the gate seventeen minutes before the scheduled departure. Unfortunately, that was three minutes too late, as there was an arbitrary twenty-minute boarding requirement according to the gate agent with the wry “gotcha” smile. That left me forlornly looking out the window at the plane… which, of course, departed thirty minutes late after de-icing. The six-hour layover to make my next connection led me to backtrack and think, “Forget what I said about those mostly positive images.” But I can’t.

We human beings are a uniquely funny species. We will do almost anything, go almost anywhere, wear almost anything and say almost anything to garner favor and connect with people. Have you ever gone to gatherings you had no interest in attending? Why? Because you might make a connection… and the interesting thing is that you often do.

I can think of countless times that if I had stayed home, I wouldn’t have met that person who introduced me to another person who introduced me to another person who profoundly changed the direction of my life. There are networks of people connected by small common bonds. Singular physical or social network structures provide venues where

people are willing to extend a hand of support even though they have never personally met. It might be even stronger through connections made in a church, synagogue or mosque. Perhaps it might be a high school or university or fraternal organization. It might be as simple as a hometown connection. It may make no sense and have no rational basis, but we still reach out to help someone. This year where a world seems increasingly divided, it is a good thing to remember that connection can be a wonderfully powerful and positive concept for a brighter future.

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You can look forward to The Success Issue in Spring 2021. We will focus on what success means to you, our Blazers, and chronicle your colorful journeys in pursuit of success--however, you define the word. Please send contributions and ideas to Reka Sari at