A M E R I C A N
I N T E R N A T I O N A L
S C H O O L
B U C H A R E S T
WINTER EDITION 2016
+ INTERVIEW: TIANQI YANG
Class of 2009. After studying economics at LMU in LA, Tianqi returned to Bucharest to run his family's business as the General Manager of DHS Bikes, the largest bicycle factory in Romania.
+ INTERVIEW: SERGIO ZACIU
Class of 2012. Sergio followed his dreams of working in the film industry all the way to Los Angeles, USA, where he is currently in his final year at Chapman University.
Development Manager, Bog'Art PAGE 14
+ DINNER WITH CHEF FOA
The AISB Alumni Association hosted a very special Christmas dinner featuring an exclusive menu prepared by Chef FOA of Flavours Food Design.
AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST
WORLD ALUMNI MAGAZINE
Turda Salt Mine Museum
Salina Turda is a salt mine located in the Durgău-Valea Sărată area of Turda, the second largest city in Cluj County, Romania. Since its opening in 1992, Salina Turda has been visited by over 2 million tourists. Salina Turda was ranked by the Business Insider as the most beautiful underground place in the world. Similarly, Salina Turda is ranked 22nd among the most spectacular tourist destinations in the world. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salina_Turda
A new year, A new page At the beginning of every New Year there is a general feeling of fresh starts and changes and we make resolutions to better ourselves. So I could not think of a better time to give the opportunity for the new generation of AISB alumni to step in and make their mark on the AA.
Maria Tudor / AA President
The 2015 fall semester was a fun one for the AISB Alumni Association and a full one for me personally. The AA team took a different spin on the Bucharest fall reunion. We organised the professional and personal networking reunion with special guest, Marian Staş, who brought in effective conversation topics.
It was a very interesting night where alumni and current AISB educators discussed the ways in which the Alumni Association can work with AISB to improve the lives of current students. At the same time we talked about how AISB can contribute to alumni networking and how the school can support in raising the Alumni Association to another level. On this thought, the AA is launching a project that we have been working on for the past two years: the AA professional network. I truly hope that this platform will bring us closer together as a community while at the same time giving us the means to develop business opportunities and to offer jobs and internships to our students and new alumni. On this new platform, current AISB students will have the chance to search though all alumni profiles, get inspiration from our successes and failures, and contact us to get advice on what and where to study.
I myself, worked for four years with my father in our family business and I can’t say enough how much I learned and how much experience I gained by working next to someone who’s most important mission is to teach their daughter how to become better. The expectations are endless, but there are some personal benefits too. Perhaps one of the biggest is the flexible hours you allow yourself when you are your own boss, which allowed me to get so involved with AISB to found and grow the AA. I will always be thankful and honoured to have had this opportunity. I am proud to say that together with a great team I have added a valuable piece to our community. Among others, AISB now has a strong team that gets involved in organising reunions and events with the students, a constitution to be run by, a networking platform, and a magazine with a readership of over 20,000 people.
This issue’s cover story is about a great mix between the personal and academic development at AISB and one’s personal journey of coming back to work in the family business in the Romanian culture. I interviewed Bogdan Doicescu, aka Bobo, who can be considered a complete product of AISB, having spent all of his formative years at the school. With a full American education, Bobo shares what it’s like to “walk through your dreams in your home country;” a truly inspiring and captivating story about his time at AISB and his experience in the real estate city of New York. What I like most about Bobo is that he became a person who knows what he wants to do with his life and nothing stops him from doing what he feels is right, like leaving a night club to go to the gym and then going back, because that is one of his passions. I also admire Bobo’s involvement is his family’s business. As he was a very passionate student who fully experienced New York from a professional point of view, Bobo brought new development ideas to the successful business run by his father. More about his story on page 14.
Having said all this, I recently accepted a new challenge and with new a beginning comes change. I am, for three months now, the General Manager of the Romanian Tennis Federation; a job that requires my full attention with extensive travelling, but leaves me very little personal time. There comes a time in one’s life to move on and let others develop the legacy of AISB’s Alumni Association, which is in its own way a family business! My heart will always be with the AA and I will always be the founding President of our Association as well as first editor of the alumni WORLD™ magazine. The page has turned, but I will always be here.
Maria Tudor AA President
AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST
VOLUME 4 / ISSUE 2 WINTER 2016 EDITORIAL TEAM Alex Cristescu, Alexandra Johari, Patricia Khalil, Nikos Kougionas, Maria Tudor CONTRIBUTORS Ghassan Awdi, Oddny Bakke, Robert Brindley, Vlad Coraci, Michael Demmytenaere, Vlad Dima, Bogdan Doicescu, Catalina Gardescu, Patricia Khalil, Andrew Nicholson, Maria Tudor, Tianqi Yang, Sergio Zaciu PHOTOGRAPHY Bogdan Greavu AISB Archives Mihai Constantinescu Silviu Pal DESIGN AND TYPOGRAPHY Mario Zamfir School Brand LLC ONLINE EDITION School Brand LLC WORLD ALUMNI MAGAZINE Sos. Pipera Tunari 196 Com. Voluntari Jud. Ilfov Romania 077190 Tel.: 021 204-4300 Fax: 021 204-4384 Email: email@example.com www.aisb.ro Published by Design Works Publishing Co Print Circulation: 1000 copies Electronic Circulation: 2000 copies Cover Design: Mario Zamfir About AISB
AISB was founded in 1962 and is currently Bucharest's largest international school. The language of instruction is English and teaching is based upon an American style curriculum. The school offers the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program from Early Childhood through 12th grade. AISB is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Council of International Schools, and the International Baccalaureate Organization and is recognized by the Ministry of Education in Romania.
Copyright ÂŠ 2016 AISB ALUMNI. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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Trademarks: WORLD Alumni Magazine, AISB Alumni Association and their associated logos are trademarks of the American International School of Bucharest. All other names, logos, and trademarks of other companies shown in this publication are the property of their respective owners.
What do successful people learn from family relationships?
Alumni Fall Reunion 2015
Dinner with Chef FOA at the Flavours Food Academy
CONTENTS 06 08 12 14 17 20 22 26 29 30 31
GIVING BACK TO OUR ALUMNI FAMILY INTERVIEW WITH TIANQI YANG INTERVIEW WITH BOGDAN DOICESCU ALUMNI PROFILE: RALUCA PARASCHIVESCU VAMPIRES VS BERLIN INTERNATIONAL INTERVIEW WITH SERGIO ZACIU INTERVIEW WITH GHASSAN AWDI A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE SAVE THE DATE FOR THIS YEAR'S GALA KEEPING UP WITH THE NICHOLSONS
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Robert Brindley / AISB Director
As we plan to improve and change our educational offerings, the key to any vision of the future lies in our ability to predict what knowledge, skills and concepts will be needed by coming generations of students. I am firmly of the belief, from what I have read and understand of our world changing at a rate which must be daunting for the younger folk amongst us, that technology will be at the center of any transformation. However, as our cultures and communities evolve there will be constants and traditions that we must preserve, indeed cherish; ideals, morals and values that will transcend time and ensure that our world is a safer, cleaner, and more ethical place, leading to a more sophisticated understanding of the world in which we live. These traditional principles and standards must focus on mutual respect and a fundamental understanding that, in everything, we must ‘do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves.’ This requires social and cultural awareness, tolerance and an acceptance of differing
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perspectives; the concept that students ‘become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.’ (IB Mission Statement) In terms of the educational design of our curriculum, I definitely ascribe to the comments made by Ross Dawson, futurist and strategic advisor, that the more important skills and characteristics for future careers will be based around creativity, relationships and expertise, as described in this article about the top ten careers of the future: https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/careers/blog/top10-careers-future. That is, experimentation coupled with the ability to understand that mistakes and corrective improvements lead to an enhancement of the creative process; that a cultural and social sensitivity of those around you, with whom one interacts, leads to authentic, productive team work; and, that mastery of certain core skills and concepts in at least one, if not many disciplines, is paramount.
So as we develop AISB’s educational competencies, we must continue to develop and strengthen the core skills and competencies that are reflective of the more traditional approach to education, which many schools of thought seem keen to wash away under a tsunami of technology. At the same time, we need to ensure that our students are equipped with the emerging skills of future careers and societal demands. Thus, the vision of the future of education will be based on merging the best traditions of the past with their technological, high-tech, innovative equivalent of the present. When we get this balance right – our school will become a power house of collaborative learning. Regards,
Robert Brindley AISB Director
Director’s Blog http://director.aisb.ro/ Balance
As published in the Director’s Blog on November 18, 2015
We often talk about the AISB community and how important it is in the life of past, present and even future students. Whilst we need feedback and help from alumni and parents, there is an onus on the school to provide information that invites discussion and presents data that has the potential to maximize the learning experience for their children, our students. Teachers can only achieve so much in exploiting such potential; it is our partnership with the parents and alumni that really fosters such latent talents. There was a remarkable piece of research from Australia that studied children, over time, on how the home environment influenced a child’s learning. Their findings – Longitudinal Study of Australian children (LSAC) ( highlights factors that affect future academic performance. The study applies to younger children but the outcomes, in my opinion, relate to all students as they build traits for life-long learning and also to how a school develops its curriculum and extra-curricular activities. To summarize the outcomes, students achieved to a higher academic and emotional level if: • The child is encouraged to play games, or gets involved in arts and crafts activities;
• A parent regularly reads to their child; • There are a many books in the household that accommodate the child’s curiosity and reading level; • There is involvement in regular outof-home activities. So, how does this translate to older students and the challenges of a maturing child? If there is one word that springs to mind it is balance. The ability to relax and understand the value of play, whatever your age; to surround yourself with books, papers, magazines, kindle, i-Pad, or tablet that give access to alternative sources of information, ideas or perspectives; to create a lifestyle that connects on a regular basis with the outside world and the environment;
an activity that literally grounds you in the present; and, importantly, to create mechanisms that keep you informed, to read, to enquire, in order to challenge comfort levels and outlooks on life. Thus, we must use the resources of our community. Over the coming months it is my hope to enrich the afterschool program to offer other alternatives that engage and inspire our students and present a more diverse, challenging and resource-rich community. Visit the Director’s Blog today: http://director.aisb.ro/
Share your news with us!
Getting in touch with old friends
We are always happy to hear from alumni about their life after AISB. If you have news you would like to share with your alumni community, then please get in touch and we will do our best to include your story. Please keep us up-to-date with your news.
We have a number of ways in which you can make contact with each other - through attendance at one of our many events, via the search facility on our website (coming soon) or through searching the various social media sites we have a presence on.
For more details, contact: Salwa Patricia Khalil AISB Alumni Coordinator I firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also like to hear from alumni who have contact details for other alumni they know we are out of touch with.
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Salwa Patricia Khalil / AISB Communications & Alumni Coordinator
Take a moment to reflect: Who has helped you reach your dreams and potential? Who has offered you unique opportunities and experiences that have shaped the person you are today? Who has helped prepare you to be ready to grab opportunity? Have you found specific examples? I’m sure the answer is yes. It’s important to realize that, no matter how self-made we are, we are each who we are today because of certain key opportunities we have been presented with from people who have wanted to help us – be it our parents, friends, bosses, connections, contacts, networks, communities or even strangers who saw potential and invested in it. In realizing this fundamental aspect, we are able to open our eyes to the potential we have to positively influence the lives of others around us too. What opportunities can we create for the next generation of young mathematicians, athletes, scientists, artists, engineers, lawyers, marketers, and more? During the first in our Professional Series of Alumni Reunions, An Alumni Network Effectiveness Conversation, our facilitator, Mr. Marian Staş, Chairman of Leaders of the Third Millennium, lead us through an enlightening exercise: it revealed what alumni can give to AISB, but also what they should take from the school, and vice versa. Last year was filled with alumni accomplishments: budding relationships,
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Giving back to our Alumni Family Column by Salwa Patricia Khalil
AISB Alumna / Class of 2009 AISB Communications & Alumni Coordinator new initiatives, old traditions, and beautiful moments, all tied together through our alumni family. Alumni have inspired current AISB students through careers, hobbies, poetry, coaching, and educating; alumni have worked with parents to facilitate their understanding of the milestones that their growing teenagers are living through; and alumni have welcomed fresh faces to the network by sharing words of wisdom with the newest AISB graduates. So… what has AISB and the Alumni Association done to give back to you? We have hosted innovative reunions, offering our alumni unique opportunities to visit special places, discuss deep ideas with professionals, and learn from experts in a variety of industries. We have provided opportunities for new connections to grow and prosper, and the platforms in which to do so confidently and effectively. But our biggest gift of all comes this year; our way to say thank you for your presence and for all you have done to build the AISB Alumni Association to its greatness. And what better a time to share this gift than at the beginning of a new year filled with exciting prospects? This year, we invite you to truly connect and engage with your family of AISB Alumni on our new bespoke online networking platform that will offer solid engagement tools. Following our most significant investment yet, we are excited to be able to offer all of our alumni a host of tools to enable the growth of our
network on a private and very powerful online platform, powered by the leaders in this field, Graduway. One of the greatest things about the platform will be the mentoring capabilities that it will offer to support our alumni across the world, paving the road to alumni interactions in the global business setting with public and private forums, discussions, events, jobs, and internships. It will be launched to a limited group of users in late January before we roll it out to our network of alumni across the world. We are indebted to the many alumni who have shared and continue to share their passions with AISB students, engaging, preparing, and inspiring them to reach beyond the walls of the classroom. It is clear that AISB Alumni across the world continue to come together to model leadership, global citizenship, and commitment and I hope that you will accept my invitation to join your online network in the coming months, catapulting the growth, benefits, and possibilities of the AISB Alumni Association’s ability to serve you, your personal needs, and professional goals. Be the person that others have been for you and let’s continue this conversation online. To be on the exclusive list of initial users for the online platform, get in touch with me at email@example.com. Salwa Patricia Khalil, AISB Communications and Alumni Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Column by Oddny Bakke
AISB HS Guidance & College Counselor
At AISB, our educational philosophy is to engage, prepare and inspire. Successful families also engage in actions that can fit within this philosophy. We may consider family to be our immediate relations, extended relatives, a group of our closest friends, or family created by partnerships. What do successful people learn from family relationships? How does family help us? How can we ensure weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re nurturing the best environment for our family?
AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST
(Family continued from page 9)
As a school counselor, I’ve had the experience of working closely with families of students who care greatly about the development and education of their children. As someone who takes these family experiences as integral to the development of an individual, I often think about the qualities of families and consider what actions and behaviors contribute to children growing into successful adults. From infancy to young adult, families engage the child in opportunities to explore and negotiate social and environmental situations – constantly gaining insight to their individual interests, talents, strengths and weaknesses. As the child develops, so does the complexity of their experiences. As confidence grows, so does a repertoire of transferable skills. I work with many seniors who are applying to colleges in areas of the world they have never been to before. They feel comfortable doing this because they are aware that their skills are transferable to any environment. New experiences are constantly providing a new
awareness of themselves and how to navigate the world around them.
Families prepare their children for life by teaching and setting the foundation of values, morals and problem solving skills that will help them negotiate the rest of their lives on their own. This foundation is in essence, part of their support system. It is inevitable that our children will experience failure, just as they will experience conflict, because these things are a normal part of life. The key is to provide them the space to work through failure and conflict of increasing complexity, complimenting their developmental level. Students who are prepared are more able to navigate difficult situations and to know that it is all right when they don’t achieve an expected outcome. Thus, they will be better prepared to be successful in meeting other challenges in life. Our children are negotiating a
world that’s very different from the one previous generations had to negotiate. This is why they often refer to their peers for guidance and opinions. Yet family remains the most prevalent support system throughout a student’s development, and often also one of the most consistent. Inspiration is creating the desire to attain something, and instilling the belief that it is possible. Families can inspire by showing children that their own thoughts, dreams, and ideas are important and valued. Believing in their abilities, and showing them that someone cares about them and is always cheering for and supporting them is an important step. Children from inspirational families have a strong belief in themselves and what they can realistically achieve in their lives. However you define family, family is the ultimate support system where one finds security and belonging. Despite the fact that the nature of families is a dynamic one, everchanging in structure, they provide the fundamentals for positive growth and success.
Oddny Bakke / AISB HS Guidance & College Counselor
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Oddny joined AISB at the start of the 2015 academic year as a High School Counselor working alongside Tim Battersby. Together, they work with students in grades 9 through 12 on various aspects of their social, personal, academic, and career development, overseeing the development and delivery of the grade 9-12 advisory programs and counseling students individually and as a group on social, emotional, and academic needs including transitioning, family changes, grief, and loss. Furthermore, they help students figure out their next chapter in life after high school by working with grade 9 and 10 students in career planning, and supporting grade 11 and 12 students with university advice and applications. Whether it is applying to university, taking a gap year, or considering a vocational career, Oddny
supports students in making wise and informed choices. For the past seven years, Oddny has had the opportunity to work with students in Phoenix, Arizona in the US; Nairobi, Kenya (ISK); and Jakarta, Indonesia (JIS). Prior to her K-12 experience, she was an Academic Advisor, Disability Counselor and Exchange Program Advisor for a small liberal arts college in New England, USA. Oddny is originally from the beautiful state of New Hampshire on the east coast of the US. She has two amazing grown sons: Paul (28) is an airline and military pilot, and Alex (26) is the General Manager of the Deluxe Diner in Newton, Massachusetts. Oddny loves to trail run, practice yoga and mindfulness, and spend time outdoors.
Scholarships Awarded to the Class of 2015 Graduates
What Are Your Plans for Next Year?
The people most helpful in the university planning process were:
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Tianqi Yang GM DHS Bikes / AISB Alumnus, Class of 2009
“AISB taught me that
knowledge should not be taken for granted, and if I’m genuinely interested in a subject, I have to pursue it.” WM: What was the most important influence that the AISB education had on you? TY: AISB taught me that knowledge should not be taken for granted, and if I’m genuinely interested in a subject, I have to pursue it.
WM: What did you study after high school?
TY: I studied sociology and later switched to economics at LMU in Los Angeles. I also took a variety of courses in philosophy, history and marketing. All the interests I pursued during college were related to what I learned at AISB, which seemed just like some random interests at the time but later proved to be the stepping stone for the greater curiosities that contributed to my overall world view and social values. WM: What work experience did you undertake during college, and how has that influenced you?
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TY: During college I worked in a temporary job for a small film studio, where I learned that a zealous work attitude is very much appreciated by American employers. After graduation I worked at a famous American maker of bicycle components, where I learned that a noble company mission could be the most important factor in helping talented people reach their personal potential, hence the company’s potential. It was a very small team that creates immense commercial and social value. My experience in that company taught me to believe in my dreams because I don’t have to be alone in that journey. All I need to do to achieve them is to build a dream team. WM: What is the story of your family business? TY: My family first visited Romania in 1998. During their vacation, the mayor of Petrosani, Hunedoara convinced my father to invest in his city. At that time, the mines were closing and there was a surplus of workforce in the region. All
the cumulated wealth my family earned over the years has been reinvested into the same business they started in 1999 – DHS, the largest bicycle factory in Romania. WM: How did you decide to come back to Romania and manage your family business? TY: My first job was on the assembly line of the bicycles: I was 14 and it was the middle of summer vacation. My parents loved to talk about work even at home so I learned about the bicycle industry ever since I was a child. Even during my college years, I attended all the most important tradeshows in this business. During the 2013 Las Vegas Interbike Show, I found an American company who had their production in China and Taiwan and I managed to lead them to Romania and start a collaboration with my company in order to expand their presence in Europe. This opportunity was probably the reason I had no difficulty finding a job
in the bicycle business after graduating from university. During my first job in the States, the company I worked for also had a sister NGO which promotes alternative transportation as a solution for global warming. As the CEO’s research assistant I was involved in the study of the global trade of fossil fuels and I participated in lobbying for environmentalism. Honestly, I did not hold my company in high regards before, but it is during the year 2014 that I finally decided that my family business is a perfect place for me to begin achieving my dream as being a part of the sustainable future. I know this sounds cheesy but I believe people our age can hardly be motivated by wealth alone. WM: What have been some challenges you have encountered until now? TY: It’s been an entire year since I worked here now. I’ve encountered new challenges, daily. This company was a well-oiled machine when I first took over, but not exactly ready for the plans I have in term of human resources, which is the biggest challenge. We had loyal
and capable people but everyone was already a screw in the machine that I couldn’t delegate for new projects. While not exactly experienced in hiring, I faced difficulty attracting people who shared my vision. Since hiring new people proved unbeneficial in the short-term, I’ve established an internal promotion system that involves everyone from line workers to top management. During the process, I’ve managed to convince some high level managers to find replacements for themselves thus making them available to run new projects and set new departments. This is a costly process, but what I currently have is a large company that runs itself like a small or mid-sized company, where most of the decision making is done by the “dictator,” my beloved father.
are minimized when there are permanent wars to be fought and lands to be conquered; every general can become a king if he can conquer enough land to call a realm. I believe that all of the company’s current challenges will be solved by the people who share my dreams, and my job as General Manager is to keep creating new opportunities for my employees and for my business.
The change I’m about to bring first is a system where everyone can have a shot in reaching their personal potential, and I believe this is the solution to all other challenges that I have in hand. This idea is inspired by my understanding of the history of Roman and Mongolian empires. An empire’s internal conflicts
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Bogdan Doicescu Development Manager, Bog'Art AISB Alumnus Class of 2008
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“I chose to attend school in the U.S. because
I was so molded by the American school and the culture: from sports, social dynamics, and the education system as a whole, that no other place would have allowed me to feel like I fit in naturally” WM: Bobo, please tell us a little bit about your educational journey BD: I am a product of AISB, having started my first day of education in pre-school in 1994 and graduating from grade
12 in 2008. Post-AISB, I attended Columbia University in the City of New York, graduating in 2012 with a Major in Financial Economics and a Concentration in Business Management from Columbia Business School.
I then focused my academic experience towards Real Estate, obtaining a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development from New York University. I chose to attend school in the U.S. because I was so molded
WM: What would you say is your educational philosophy?
by the American school and the culture: from sports, social dynamics, and the education system as a whole, that no other place would have allowed me to feel like I fit in naturally.
and seeking a learning experience by doing to discover what you like to do specifically are very valuable as even within the same industry there are so many options and unique vantage points that you can only truly discover through a
BD: Accompanying my studies, I always believed in practical experience, and finding what you love to do. I think internships
practical application of your skills. I don’t think people should spend too much time discovering, though. There is a great start-up mantra of “fail fast, fail often;” though I’ve learned from athletics that you can never really
fail at something as long as you make progress and refine your skillset from the lessons and experiences learnt. WM: How has your education shaped what you are doing now?
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BD: Having recently returned alongside the family company as Development Director at Bog'Art, the role could not have been better crafted. I think I was bred to do what I do – I remember early on in elementary school at AISB, I was given the assignment “design your dream home.” From what I had seen at home, I showed up with thorough architectural plans: a birds-eye view, diagrams for doors, labels on rooms… the works. My parents were notified at the upcoming parentteacher conference that it was unfair to the other students who had drawn beautiful perspectives in color that I be helped on assignments given the resources I had at my disposal. But I hadn’t received help; my father glanced over my project and replied: “I’ll have to have a talk with him, the corridor is way too long and the bathroom has the wrong proportions to the bedroom.” This is the type of dynamic I had from early on, and it was the norm for finding what I really loved to do, without the pressure of it being imposed. I went through this process by venturing into different roles for my work experience, starting with banking during my time in college: I spent a summer doing Corporate Finance for Eastern Europe in Vienna, and another with Asset Management at a Romanian Bank; both were not what I expected my career to be, in that I felt that the learning I was so excited about was awfully tedious in terms of the day-to-day banking work. Aside from the shiny building and the suit, I really just enjoyed the
shiny building part – so that’s what I followed. I wanted to be in a place that was so dynamic and diverse that it would serve as a learning experience in itself. The City where I went to school became the subject matter. All of the things I learned served me well in being able to absorb new information; I commend the advantages of a well-rounded liberal arts system. During my time in New York, skyscraper city called for me to really uncover the universe of buildings, so I applied for a New York State Real Estate Salesperson License, which put me in the center of the action as part of the Development Marketing and Residential Sales Team of the highest performing agency in Manhattan. I was feet on the ground and very connected to the pulse of the city and the look and feel of the enduser. This helped me learn sales and interpersonal relationships, as well as the dynamics of a city in motion. The experience helped me learn how to talk the talk, walk the walk, and hustle, but it did not challenge analytical thinking as much as I would have liked it to. I tried to go through the design path to really understand what buildings ought to be about, interning for an international architecture firm from a non-architect role, by bridging planning and cost estimating with scenic renderings and floor plans to create offering books and memorandums ranging from small commercial and residential projects to large institutional projects in the US and Europe.
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I also had a brief stint at a U.S. Commercial Real Estate Finance firm alongside which I compiled and marketed creative financing solutions for commercial, mixed-use and residential projects of $2-$100M to potential debt and equity sources. This cumulus of different roles helped me learn how to interact with and speak the language of lenders, designers, contractors, developers, brokers, and investment management companies across the entire spectrum. I firmly believe that not knowing enough about every aspect of a business and sitting on either side of the table to put it all together can be dangerous. WM: What challenges did you face returning to Bucharest and how have these translated into the work that you do for your company? BD: With my return, I worried, how do I fit in. I had the privilege of designing my own role that mixes a start-up feeling of initiative with the balance of a tightly coordinated corporate structure. My title would read “Development” as the representative of the next generation that takes it to the next level on multiple heights. Growing as the face of the organization in a newly crafted public relations role that combines sales and marketing with investor relations, my role is both Business and Real Estate Development. Specifically, my activity oversees the development of the company's own portfolio of assets as well as new investment opportunities. I coordinate
a range of activities from deal structuring, acquisition, highest-andbest use land analysis and project feasibility studies with investment proforma cashflows, project management, planning and budgeting, as well as execution monitoring and oversight. WM: What projects are you currently working on? BD: I am recently involved in a 5,000 sqm residential project in a very central location, near Cismigiu Park, and for this year I have sourced new projects that will be funded with the launch of a private-equity investment fund leveraging the Bog’Art brand name to focus on our own mixed-use development in urban in-fill locations in Bucharest. WM: What advice would you give to current AISB students looking to follow their career dreams? BD: Students and young professionals won't know how to anticipate the satisfaction or frustrations of a job unless they go out and actually do it. Try it and see how it feels, otherwise you may find out later on that it wasn't what you expected, or there was another way you could have better applied yourself, your unique skill set and personality – even within the same profession. Make it your own experience and surround yourself with people and places that will push you to grow. Your greatest satisfaction will be your ability to take a walk through your dreams.
Raluca Paraschivescu Chapeau Madame! In the past 53 years, the AISB family welcomed and later said goodbye to many of its members, young and old. Some of them stay so close to its heart that it is like they never really left at all. Madame Raluca Paraschivescu is one of these family members. She has been gone from AISB for a while now, pursuing her passion for the French language in Hong Kong... but she is never really gone! The moment you meet the storm of a woman that Madame Paraschivescu is, you think she is crazy – in all the right ways, of course! The first impression is one of Hurricane Catrina but you soon realize that Madame is a friendly summer, much needed, rain storm, full of sun and rainbows on the side. Ask any of the AISB Alumni and they will tell you without a doubt that Madame is not just a French teacher; she is “the” teacher. Do you know that movie “Dead Poets Society”? Remember that teacher who tags at the students’ hearts as well as their minds? Remember that teacher who was quite tough but didn’t need to show it because you would not be caught dead disappointing them? Remember that teacher who never let the child inside them die? This is Madame Paraschivescu! When Madame talks about students – past or present – her face lights up. The excitement you can see on her face is a direct result of her passion for teaching, her huge heart in which she somehow finds place for each and every one of her many students worldwide. As a former colleague I remember Raluca as deeply empathic and compassionate, a close member of our family and one that we were very, very sorry to see go. Every summer Raluca makes it a point to come by and see us at AISB and it is obvious this is not negotiable for her. She looks at every nook and cranny like she is visiting her old house, where she grew up. Against all odds I am hopeful that Madame will join AISB again in the years to come. Until then, may she be appreciated as the truly magnificent person and exceptional teacher that she is, in any school that is lucky to have her. Catalina Gardescu AISB Admissions & Development Manager
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October 2015 ALUMNI REUNION The first in our
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with Marian Staş
On October 1st, 2015, we held the first in our Professional Series: An Alumni Network Effectiveness Conversation with Marian Staş. For the first time in AISB Alumni reunion history, we were joined by a facilitator who helped us realize some insights on the power of our alumni network. Mr. Marian Staş, Chairman of Leaders of the Third Millennium,
facilitated our discussion, touching on subjects like our individual strengths, their application in a group setting, the effect on the value of the team, and the application to our alumni network specifically. Mr. Staş ended the session with an activity that brought to light what alumni can give to AISB, but also what they should take
from the school and vice versa, commenting: “I liked a lot your courage to create; the fact that you took the exercise with a grain of salt: seriously enough, but fun enough that it came to life.” Needless to say, the 30 participants took away some valuable lessons and together, the strength and cohesiveness of the Alumni Association grew.
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Varsity Boys Football Team Win the Berlin International Friendly Tournament Republished with permission from the writers 30th September 2015 // 15:14 EET
On the weekend of September 25th-26th, 2015, the Vampires won a dramatic penalty shootout, en route to winning the Berlin Friendly Tournament. The first obstacle in front of our team was BBIS (Berlin Brandenburg International School). The Vampires hit the ground running, as Kenan B was taken down illegally
in the box, right in the first minute. Despite the obvious fault, the referee didn’t call anything. After luckily surviving a barrage of chances from the connected wing play in our opponents’ half, Kenan capitalized on a defensive error with a finish which was smooth as silk. Our team started the second half at full speed. We had a couple of favorable situations to score, including a one-on-one. Sadly, our players weren’t cold-blooded enough and failed to convert the golden opportunities into numbers on the board. A mix of defensive miscommunication with a speculative cross led to our opponents levelling the score at 1-1. After a Sisyphuslike effort, we ended up drawing, hence going to the lottery of penalties.
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Some say that penalties are luck, some say that it’s only a mental game, but we proved that it’s neither: concentration and focus paved our way towards a dramatic win. Our first penalty taker was Basil C, who scored his first penalty ever in a game. He was followed by David A, Kenan B, Matei L, and Andrei S. All of our players succeeded in their own way when stepping up to
the 11m spot. Basil calmly placed the ball in the bottom left corner. David safely hit the back of the net, while Kenan kicked the ball with sniper-like precision. Matei executed the goalie with a cheeky fake, while Andrei assured us the victory in a ruthless manner. Our great achievement would have not been possible, without the top save of our goalkeeper, Vlad M. We lined up in the final against Berlin International School (BIS). Once again, we got off to a solid start. Despite the tide of the game being against them, BIS found the back of the net, after a flashy fast break. That is when our champion mentality kicked in, as our team achieved its goals of stronger partnerships, and the progress was visible. After just a couple of minutes, the score was leveled out, after Andrei S hit the back of the
net with surgical precision. Using our superior strength and skill, we took hold of the possession and transferred this onto the scoreboard, through another world class finish by Kenan B.
level of happiness suddenly reached its peak: the AISB Vampires achieved a 2-1 victory.
We kept on dominating the game, yet the curse of the one-on-one chance, struck again. Some golden opportunities missed didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t balance the score in our favor as hoped. After having a goal ruled out as offside, BIS took charge of the game. They managed to create some great chances to score, however it was not enough to get past the back four lead by the physically imposing Antonio S. and Robert P., supported on the wings by Vlad C. and Alex P. who joined the game with fresh eyes on the situation. As the final whistle was blown, the
Grade 12: Kenan B, Robert P, Alex P, Vlad C, Antonio S, Vlad M, Matei L, Basil C
Vlad Dima, writer Vlad Dima is a Romanian student at AISB and he is currently in Grade 9. He joined our school in 6th grade, back in 2012. In the future, Vlad plans to study Law in Bucharest, and build a career as a business lawyer in Romania. In parallel to that, he wants to keep sports and journalism as a priority and practice being a sports journalist and sports commentator, as football is a huge hobby and passion of his.
Vlad Coraci, editor Vlad Coraci is a Romanian student at AISB and he is currently a senior. He joined us back in 2010, as a 7th grader. He plans to be a primary school teacher at an international level in the future. Formula 1 and Football are his favorite sports, both to write about and practice. Vlad thinks that he has already met future champions in both of these sports and will certainly write about them when their success comes.
Vampires Berlin Squad:
Grade 11: Andrei S, David A, Andre C Grade 10: Max Z, Rafael H Grade 9: Jonda C, Alejandro GM, Vlad D Coaches: Emanuel Munteanu and Jon Rees
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o i g r Se u i c a Z WM: Sergio, tell us a little bit about what your life looks like at the moment SZ: I am currently working with Sonar Entertainment, a small production company inside of Fox Plaza with many up and coming projects that you probably haven’t heard of as of yet, but a few names will ring a bell or two in a year from now. This is my second internship throughout my time at Chapman University where I am studying Film Production. I used to be with Blumhouse Productions, which is the biggest company in cinema right now for horror films. My job currently consists of reading screenplays and giving feedback on whether or not
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Sergio Zaciu is an AISB alumnus, through and through. He began his studies at AISB in Kindergarten, at a mere 5 years old back in 1999, growing with his AISB family and graduating in 2012. Sergio followed his dreams of working in the film industry all the way to Los Angeles, USA, where he is currently in his final year at Chapman University.
they are viable business options for the company. I read the script, do an analysis/breakdown, identify the pros and cons for the script, and look at whether it would be better as a series or as a film, and I also read lots of books and articles that would make for good content. WM: What do you enjoy most about what you’re doing? SZ: I really enjoyed my job while working with Blumhouse because I watched a lot of films, and I like the idea of a horror production company. Blumhouse, in particular, do a bunch of low budget horror films and then invest a lot in a big production. I was with them before they received an
Oscar nomination for Whiplash. As far as Sonar goes, it’s cool being in a very executive building, but for a lot of it you show up and do a 9-5 job which is not what I want to be doing when I’m done with school. However, it’s good to get a balanced view of the industry. Outside of that, my entire focus has been on my senior thesis film which I shot in December 2015. WM: Tell us more about your senior film SZ: The film itself is a 20 minute piece that I teamed up with my roommate to write. Because my focus is on Directing, we then
partnered with a student who is a Producing Major. Together we built a team of fellow students including a cinematographer, sound designer, manager, etc, to raise the money for the film and do all the paperwork to make a legitimate film at an industry level. When you say student film people think about something very simple filmed in a back yard, walking a dog, so on and so forth. This is much larger – tens of thousands of dollars have gone into this movie by now. For example, we have had proper casting calls in LA with professional actors who are all paid and we’ve had to do the screen actors guild paperwork for that. The whole process started back in May 2015 and the whole project culminated in December when we shot – now we have until April to do all the post-production. It’s a huge undertaking with the idea that when we graduate, everyone in the project walks away with this film as a calling card when they go into the industry. We shot the entire thing in the Californian desert on a 6-day shoot. We drove up a cast and crew of roughly 30 people, accommodated everyone in overnight cabins, fed everyone, and rented and brought the professional lighting and
set at a gas station in Texas, where an illegal Russian immigrant lives and works the midnight shift. She’s put into an awkward moral dilemma when a man walks into the station who she suspects is a local kidnapper and although she wants to call the police, she can’t because she’s an illegal immigrant and she would get deported. The movie touches on racial profiling and xenophobia, with 21st century American undertones supposed to apply universally towards what’s happening with Syrian refugees and Mexican immigrants. We have a FaceBook page for anyone who’s interested in the project: https:// www.facebook.com/whininglow It’s been a really cool experience; I have an incredible team together and I’m truly fortunate to have such a talented group of very supportive and dedicated people. It’s been a big undertaking – getting what we want out of this process, getting our artistic vision out, and
WM: What about your brother’s role?
The film, called Whining Low, is
WM: What’s the best thing about this experience so far? SZ: It’s pretty crazy but super fun, especially because it’s my film, too. This has been my baby for over a year. I’ve written over 40 drafts of the script. At this point we’ve gotten to a point where we know the entire film inside out. We’re pushing things out and we will finally have an actual film, which is crazy. Up until now I’ve helped out on other sets or made something small in my back yard. But it’s the first time we are making something that has money involved, a huge team, and everyone going out of their way to make this happen. I’m working with 30 people together as a unit to make an ensemble piece.
WM: Where does the funding come from? making the best film we can to tell the story we want to tell.
camera equipment with us from rental houses in LA to make sure we could pull this film off as best as possible.
sure items are reserved and picked up, to the small, like making sure make up and sound are ready.
SZ: My brother, Oliver, is the assistant director of the project. He ensured all the safety protocols on set and made sure we were always on schedule. A set day is roughly 12 hours, never over. So when shooting over those 12 hours, you have to have literally everything mapped out, organized and prepared in advance to make sure you can get the shots that you need and stay on time. It includes the big things, like making
SZ: All over the place. We’ve won a few grants, including one from the school giving us funding for the location, accommodating crew, and for paying for the set location. We have a lot of money coming indirectly out of the tuition fees: part of the initial tuition is saved up when you enroll and given back to you through this process for your project. We had a fundraising campaign to cover the last thousand dollars that we needed. We also have our individual families helping to a degree as to their personal investments in the project, but the majority of the money is coming from the school and the grants.
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A lot of the gear we are using is also for free because it comes from the school. If this project wasn’t going through the school curriculum, we would be having to pay for so much more and we wouldn’t receive certain waivers; that alone would have accumulated at least an additional 20,000 USD. We are lucky to be able to save on those fronts. But it makes it all the more terrifying considering the prospects of making a film outside of a school curriculum. WM: What about using techniques to offset some of those high costs? SZ: You want to be able to figure out the budgeting aspect early on. That’s where the education of being an artist comes into play. The whole talent of being a good filmmaker is that you can be creative about your solutions to problems. There’s a great Orson Welles story where his friend Henry Jaglom wanted to do a huge explosion scene. Welles said “it’s simple, get the character to look at the city then light a match – you’re not showing the explosion but you are showing the thought.” That’s the art of film making – how you connote to a certain message without actually showing it. Many people are taken away by the spectacle of a huge blockbuster movie, but the real art is how to show those things without the money to do so. WM: So where did this all start? SZ: I was definitely more into theatre back at AISB while my brother was more into the backstage and technical stuff. He got into doing tech for Mr. Jemison’s plays all the
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time while I was more interested in performance. Throughout my upbringing, my dad had exposed me to decades worth of film content and I absorbed so much that at some point I realized maybe it’s not the acting I like, maybe it’s the film making. If it was the acting, I would have gone into a musical theatre profession but I had no interest in being on Broadway, I had an interest in film making. My family supported me in attending summer camps and then in 9th grade I got into the film class with Mr. J and from there on it was pretty cemented to me that the only thing I could see myself studying at university was film. Film became my passion and I was interested in music too, though in 11th grade I realized that although I loved music it wasn’t something for university. I realized that if I ever wanted a profession in film I had to study it at a higher level; I couldn’t just leave AISB and say, “yes I’m a filmmaker.” Studying it at a higher level gives you the opportunity to meet people and make connections over at least 4 years, or 6 with a Master’s Degree. WM: Who was your biggest influence? SZ: My brother because him and I did everything together. Mr. J was my teacher, he taught me how to look at and analyze films and he helped me become a better storyteller, but my brother took me out of my comfort zone. He would say things like “We are going to make movies this weekend. We are not sitting at home and playing video games, we are going to make a film.” My dad helped me watch films; I started to learn this
as I came to college – the way film schools are set up – they either teach you about film theory, or they teach you about the craft. Chapman is a great example of a craft school where they teach beautiful cinematography, editing, and sound design. They teach you how to create films that are technical marvels but not necessarily great stories, for that you’d have to go to a school that teaches academia to learn why a movie woks as opposed to how. When you realize which of the two things your school does not offer, you need to make sure you teach it to yourself. I quickly realized the school would teach me about all the technical things, so I had to teach myself the aspect of storytelling. I absorbed films like crazy. I was watching films and reading scripts, day in and day out. As of May 2015 I started writing non-stop about all the films I watched. I have cataloged literally every film I have ever seen on this website: http://letterboxd. com/immigrantfilm/. Then in August 2015 my friend and I started an online publication where we review films and do podcasts and interviews with musicians, called Crossfader Magazine, here: http:// www.xfdrmag.net/ These two things have given me the tools to be able to absorb, dissect, and figure out exactly what I like or dislike and what the movie does right and wrong. The common thread of all of my favorite filmmakers and the reason why I think they are so good is because they spent years cultivating the world around them, absorbing everything from the people they
met to the foods they ate and everything in between. They are good storytellers specifically because they understood the art of cinema – and you are only able to do this by watching films. You can make a million movies but to really understand the art of cinema, you have to look at the shapers of cinema. You have to be diligent to watch something every day. If you can consume something every day and write about it I think it helps you grow as a filmmaker – that’s the best lesson I learned throughout my four years here. WM: What’s it like working with your brother? SZ: It’s a lot of fun. We’ve been working together for years now. With every project that we work on we hone in our skills and start to realize what each one of us is good at. He’s a fantastic writer, he’s better than me at writing dialogue, for example. We both have different approaches to how we would shoot a scene but it doesn’t make one better than the other – we complement each other. It’s strange – what I would love to do is co-direct but the school curriculum doesn’t allow for that – he’s a sophomore and I’m a senior – his project is a 3 minute film with a crew of 8 people. Mine is 20 minutes with a crew of 30. We’re not allowed to work together per se but we can help each other out and we do as much as we can. I would really like to see what we could achieve hand in hand as a directorial team but that’s something that’s going to have to come way down the line. My priorities right now are to find places to work and get experience in the industry. We are
both going to go our own separate ways to a certain degree and I hope we will find each other again down the line. WM:What are your plans after you finish University? SZ: I finish university in May. Once I’m done in May it’s a matter of figuring out employment. Ideally, I want to work somewhere in the industry professionally for 1-2 years and then go and get a Master’s Degree to help me hone in my craft. I want to study at a higher caliber. Undergraduate school is great for meeting people and becoming a networker, and it provides the education that helps you ultimately make a great movie. I don’t think about all the great classes I took, I think more so about all of the great people I met. My final film won’t be good because of the teachers, but because of the students. This is the result of the fact that the school functions much like a studio – essentially, it’s for students by students. I would like to do a Master’s Degree so I can be more entrenched in the academia of cinema. When you look at most people who come out of film school, a lot want to be directors or cinematographers. For me it’s very clear that I would love to make films but coming out of university to say, “hey I’m a director,” isn’t plausible. What I really like to do is write. I would love to be writing for magazines and reviewing films but I would also just as much love to be involved in the writing process for TV shows and films.
WM: How would you describe these last few years? SZ: Enlightening - it’s been an interesting and enlightening 4 years – I came from Romania to the US by myself. I didn’t know anybody and I took it in with open arms. I love California’s culture and people, and I love the city of LA. I identify a lot with California because it’s a state full of people from everywhere. Every single neighborhood has a different predominant cultural background. When you ask people where they’re from, everyone says LA, but in reality everyone is from somewhere else. It’s a nice melting pot. That’s why I feel very much at home here, much more than I did in Romania in a lot of ways. I loved the fact that when I came to the US, there was a certain freedom of expression – I could be who I wanted. I could be a filmmaker and it wouldn’t be looked at as a crazy career path because it wasn’t a traditional career. When I look at a lot of my Romanian family, the expectation would have been for me to study business, medicine, or law. I acclimated to the American culture so well that I’ve been able to do something more risky. I wouldn’t change anything of the last 4 years. Sadly, as I am finishing this 4 year process I am realizing that I might be forced to go back to Europe because my student Visa will no longer be valid, but I don’t feel like I have anywhere to go back to because the US is my home. It’s a time-will-tell situation. I’ve really enjoyed this entire experience.
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Ghassan Awdi AISB Alumnus / Attended between 1999-2009
WM: Ghassan, tell us a little bit about yourself.
WM: How would you describe your time at AISB?
GA: My name is Ghassan Awdi. I am 22 years old, and I own a business-class lounge at Basra International Airport in Iraq. I grew up in Romania for 16 years and left here when I was finishing 10th grade in the summer of 2009. I have a very international background, originally my family is from Lebanon, although my father grew up in the US and is an American citizen. My mother, on the other hand, grew up in Brazil born to Lebanese immigrants who migrated there in the 1950s. When I was 16, my family was forced to move back to Lebanon, and there I completed my IB Diploma at the American Community School in Beirut. I then moved to the UK to pursue a BSc in Engineering and Business Studies where I graduated with a 1st Class Honors at Warwick University. Currently, I travel between Romania, Lebanon and Iraq trying to expand my business career.
GA: Out of the two schools that I studied at in Beirut and Bucharest, AISB was my favorite. I had amazing friends at this school, and I used to meet people from a lot of different backgrounds and cultures. It was truly an international school. Compared to my years at Beirut, AISB really makes you think about your future. For example, from my time at AISB, I had already been determined to go study at the University of Warwick since 6th grade, although eventually I was accepted to 11 other universities. AISB was a big part of my childhood, and my earliest memories at this great school date back to the time when it was located in two different campuses in the city and not in Pipera. I was an AISB student since Kindergarten. WM: What is your most memorable time at AISB?
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GA: Many years at AISB make it difficult to select a single memorable time there. However, there are three great memories I have of that school that I would like to mention. One of them was the celebratory event we had on the current AISB land when the first shovel was dug into the earth to mark the beginning of AISBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pipera campus opening. The second was the yearly Terry Fox Run that took place at AISB. I used to enjoy raising money, the BBQ, and participating for a good cause with my teachers and friends. Probably the events that were most fun at AISB were the school trips that each grade used to take to specific rural parts in Romania. I can recall Predeal and other mountainous regions that we visited as a class. It was a great outdoor experience to sleep in tents and cook our own food. WM: Are you still in touch with any of your colleagues from AISB?
GA: I realized how truly small this world is because in almost every country I travel to, I always seem to find a way to catch up with some old AISB friends. In Uganda, I caught up with Niccolo Ficarrelli, in Romania with Nikos Kougionas, and in England with Sever Savanciuc and Laura Heitman. I also sometimes communicate with some old professors on LinkedIn such as Mrs. Heidi Brenner who was my 1st grade teacher at AISB. I am happy that the AISB Alumni Association is so active because I would like to attend the reunions and enjoyed the only one I went to in London almost two years ago. It is great to see how successful many of my old school mates from AISB have become. WM: What class from AISB helped you the most and why? GA: I recall physics with Mr. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien as being really helpful. I used a lot of the material I studied with Mr.
O’Brien during Physics IB HL in the school I attended in Lebanon. Even some of the thermodynamics material I learned with Mr. O’Brien in 10th grade was helpful in my studies at University. WM: How would you describe your experience at Warwick in the undergraduate program you did? Are you planning on doing a Master’s Degree? GA: University was mostly entertaining. I found Warwick easier than high school, and this was a disappointment because it was not much of a challenge. Currently, two of my sisters are studying in Chicago, and I was really impressed with the education system there. Universities in the US offer students more; the classes are harder, they prepare you for life after University better, and I noticed that there are more rewarding career opportunities if you studied from a US university compared to a European one. At Warwick, I graduated with the highest overall mark in the Engineering and Business Studies program. This degree offered at Warwick is similar to industrial engineering offered in the US. However, I think that university degrees are not that relevant to people who want to start their own business. Even many people who work at large financial institutions hardly use any of the material that they studied at university. I find that the real learning experience occurs during your first years working, after graduating from college. WM: How did you decide to open a business lounge in Iraq? GA: An uncle of mine is married to an Iraqi woman and through the help of her family, I gathered the chance to participate in a tender at Basra International Airport. We were successful in our tender because there was not much competition. Prior to my arrival, the area that I rented out from the airport was used as an Iraqi market style restaurant. These
previous small start-ups failed because the owners failed to understand what foreigners, and specifically oil executives, were looking for. Since the airport only has about 12 flights a day, I had to reach out to every type of traveler. Thus, I created two sections: one for high level oil executives who want to enjoy privacy, free internet and snacks, and another section as a café where there is no entrance fee, targeting budget passengers. WM: What is it like to do business in a country that is so negatively portrayed in the media? GA: I often think of Iraq as Mars, but my family has been in Romania since 1989, and they continue to tell me that Romania was worse than present Iraq. I honestly don’t think I can believe that statement. I live and work in a city called Basra; it is located in the south of Iraq and two hours away from Kuwait City. It is a city of 3 million people and contributes to 90 percent of Iraq’s GDP. Iraq’s largest oil reserves are located in Basra, however, none of the money from oil revenues is being spent to improve Basra and it remains the most impoverished city in Iraq. Working in such a turbulent country is risky, but it is mostly in these underdeveloped countries that high returns can be achieved. WM: What are some of the misconceptions of Iraq that you can refute? GA: The thing that most foreigners believe about Iraq is that if you go there you will die or be kidnapped. Not all of Iraq is fighting ISIS and there are many cities such as Basra, Najaf, and Karbala that are far from all the violence. The main problem is poor governance. There are areas in the US and Brazil that I have travelled to that are more dangerous than the city I am living in.
Furthermore, a lot of people think that no business opportunities exist in Iraq, but the city that I currently live in has hardly anything. For example, there are no cinemas or fast-food chains in Basra. My lounge, Sky Lounge at Basra International Airport, was the first place in the entire city to offer an Espresso or have the capability to take debit/credit card payments. There are a lot of business opportunities to be made in Iraq and consequently, average income in Iraq is higher than in Romania. One thing that I found surprising and interesting when I moved to Iraq is that the country had not improved after the Iraq war. The majority of the people I met in Iraq, including Christians, Shias, and Sunnis, all wish that the days under Saddam Hussein's regime would return. WM: How did your family influence your business decisions? GA: I have a highly entrepreneurial family that enjoys taking risks and truly have money-making business ideas. I am proud to say that many members of my family have become extremely successful starting from humble beginnings in Paraguay, Romania, Lebanon, Brazil, and the USA. For example, one cousin has successfully launched his own shisha and tobacco brand with the help of E-Commerce throughout the US and Europe. They are very supportive of my career and point out business opportunities that I should seek, and at the same time they always expect better results from me in order to challenge me. After graduating from Warwick, my father was not happy about my decision to pursue a career at professional service firms where I had job offers from places such as Ernst & Young and Audi Investment Bank. My father, Hassan Awdi, admittedly told me that it would be an easier career
path to work for one of these firms. He acknowledged that in the beginning, I would be making more money working at a firm instead of opening a small business that could or could not be profitable. However, he kept telling me that after hard work, patience, and lots of optimism I would be making more money by being my own boss. I realized this was true, and thankfully it did not take more than a year for this to happen. I was successful in returning my investment in Iraq after 9 months. The smartest business man I know is my father who amassed a business empire in Romania that was involved in the hotel industry, press distribution, real estate, and media. Political persecution against my father in Romania was the cause of our departure from Romania in 2009. Unfortunately, the judicial system in Romania is unfair and for this reason, the work of my father in Romania slowly started to dissipate. However, to prove his innocence and be compensated for the nationalization of his businesses in Romania, my father brought his case to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes at the World Bank and won a multi-million dollar settlement against Romania. WM: What are your plans for the future? GA: I am currently looking forward to starting a new project and expanding my career. I cannot honestly tell you what my next step will be. I discovered that in business you can think of 10 good ideas, but usually only one actually becomes realized or possible to do. After traveling to Romania in November 2015, I am considering restarting some old businesses in Romania and hopefully come here on a monthly basis. I also hope that after a few successful years, I can reward myself and finance my Master’s program at an Ivy League school in the US.
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SPECIAL HOLIDAY DINNER FOR ALUMNI AND THEIR GUESTS AT THE FLAVOURS FOOD ACADEMY On December 2nd, 2015, the Alumni Association hosted a very special Christmas dinner featuring an exclusive menu prepared by Chef FOA of Flavours Food Design. The Masterchef himself presented a LIVE-cooking show, where alumni and their guests not only got to see him in action, but were also privy to his delicious culinary secrets! This event acted to bring together the alumni family for the holidays, and also gave guests the opportunity to make donations to the Alumni Association for their future projects. With a turnout of 25 guests, the night was truly spectacular.
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A Walk Down
Memory Laneâ&#x20AC;Ś by Michael Demmytenaere
AISB Alumnus / Attended 2000-2004
After leaving AISB in 2004, I moved back to Belgium and attended the St. John's International School. While it was an adjustment from Romania, it was an easy transition since AISB had prepared me so well for my IB Diploma. I loved St. John's, especially since it reminded me so much of the diverse, open-minded and motivational environment at AISB. I was quick to join the sports team after loving it at AISB and continued playing volleyball and basketball. It was too bad our schedule never included a game against my former school!
and industries. I started working as a management consultant at Roland Berger in Brussels, and was reunited with my friends from St. John's.
I always enjoyed the sciences and maths most and so I decided to focus on engineering in college, attending Boston's MIT in 2006. There, I majored in mechanical engineering while continuing to play volleyball, and got to fulfill my dream of studying and living in the United States. When it came time to graduate, I knew I wanted to do something that involved me working with a variety of different companies
Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to go back to Bucharest since 2005, but I would love to visit in the near future.
I loved Roland Berger but knew I ultimately wanted to be back in the U.S. and I also knew that I was ready for business school. I was accepted into Columbia Business School in New York City and graduated in 2014. I still live in New York City and work as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, traveling throughout the U.S. on different projects.
I often think about my time at AISB and what an impact
it had on me. If my family had never moved to Romania, I probably wouldn't have started an international school experience and received such a well-rounded education. I look forward to visiting sometime soon and I also very much look forward to seeing how the school is thriving now!
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2 0 1 6
A I S B
P T O
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SAVE THE DATE Saturday, April 9, 2016 JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel
The school year is already buzzing with great invitations to many events and we are peeking into the coming months of this New Year to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Have you been wondering about the AISB PTO Annual Auction Gala? Here is the information you’ve been waiting for. AISB is a vivacious space, an exciting community in which things happen, voices are heard, life is interesting and growth is supported. The AISB Parent and Teacher Organization (PTO) has the pleasure to invite you to The Burgundy Ball, an evening of passion for education, invigorating discussions and vibrant music. Save the date of April 9th for the 19th edition of the Gala which will be held at the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel. You do not want to miss this iconic AISB event! For the past 18 years, over 250 guests have attended yearly one of the most expected AISB events. Business people, diplomats, and members of the expat and local community come together for an evening of fun and friendship to support the students and projects of AISB. At the same time they are present to browse through exquisite
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services and gifts, get the best deals during the live and silent auctions and see what is new on the market. Yearly, over 100 products and services are promoted through this event and through the help of companies and individuals such as yourselves, the AISB PTO Annual Auction Gala has made a difference in the lives of so many students worldwide. If you would like to be a sponsor, please get in touch with the Gala CoChairs before February 1st. Supporting the AISB Scholarships and the PTO Grants, funds from this auspicious event have been instrumental in changing students’ future for the better. For more information, including the sponsorship package and how to purchase tickets for the Gala, please visit: http://gala.aisb.ro Kind regards, Catalina Gardescu, Gala Co-Chair AISB Manager of Admissions & External Relations Milica Madadi, Gala Co-Chair AISB PTO Member
The Nicholsons We had four brilliant years teaching at AISB. Champa and I often chat about our experience there, and use social media to keep in touch with our extended Vampire family, where possible. We recall the students we taught and coached, and of course the trips to Sri Lanka for tsunami relief. We have met teachers who have also passed through there and chatted about our old haunts like Piccolo Mondo, as well as the beauty of the countryside. The pivotal memories are related to friends and those who we considered family at AISB. After we left Bucharest in 2006, we returned to Sri Lanka. There, our family grew. Annika is now nine, and Samuel is now eight. They spent their first couple of years at a local nursery, and spent lots of time with relatives who live in Sri Lanka. They also got to know friends of ours who worked at the international school we taught at in Colombo. As Sri Lanka is where we built our home, and where we return to during holidays, both of the children are comfortable there.
Members of the Vampire family from 2002 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 2006
In 2009 we headed off to Peru for more adventures. We had four years at the American School in Lima. The children initially spent a year at a local nido (nursery) near our house. This gave them an immediate experience of Spanish, for which we are grateful. For the time we were in Lima both children were considered bilingual. Interestingly, we are very good friends with the Kurtenbachâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, who are currently at AISB, and the children fondly remember their times of playing in the sand with Lua and Calvin in their house on the beach south of Lima. We hope to visit Bucharest at some point and see them, as well as old friends from AISB. The nature of international schools is that we often organize holidays to see friends who used to be like family, as happened when Susan Canobie and the Chapmans visited us in Lima. We loved having them there, and wish we could have those visits with our international teaching family and friends more often. After four years, despite enjoying our time in Latin America, we longed for another adventure, and different
learning opportunities for the family. So we settled for a couple of years in Khartoum, Sudan. The children enjoyed many aspects of life there, including the nature of the school we all attended. Life in the school there provided a family atmosphere; where friendships tended to become close because there were fewer connections available outside of the school. We have recently moved to Hyderabad, India. We live on a scientific research center, where the school is also situated. This gives both our children the freedom to ride bikes, play with friends, and learn in another international environment. They are loving it. Samuel and Annika hear us talk about Romania, and AISB, and they know that it is a country of warm hearts. They look forward to a visit near as much as Champa and I do. We certainly have Vampire family to catch up with. Ten years is too long between visits, although our memories remain incredibly vivid.
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2016 see you at the reunion
Check the AISB Alumns Facebook page for details about the next Alumni Reunion. We hope you can join us!
Sos. Pipera Tunari 196, Voluntari, Jud. Ilfov 077190 Romania Tel: (40 21) 204-4300 www.aisb.ro
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