WORLD Magazine - Summer/Fall Issue

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Students transformed concerns about online learning into new opportunities.



Amid the anxiety and the disappointment this year, the AISb community is providing much needed support for our communities, and for each other.



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Romanian Feature 2

Sarmizegetusa Regia

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sarmizegetusa Regia, the capital of the ancient Dacian Kingdom, is one of the most mysterious historic landmarks you will ever visit in Romania. Located high in the mountains, on a plateau that is difficult to access even today, Sarmizegetusa Regia still shines and is a reminder of one of the brightest moments in the history of the Dacians, the enigmatic ancestors of the Romanian people.

Su mme r/ Fall 2 0 20 I W O R LD A LU M NI MAGA ZINE

Kirsten Pontius / Editor

I’ve often gone to work with a cold. A cough, a sneeze, I’ve powered through out of a sense of inflated obligation. As an expat, I’ve learned to identify fellow-huggers in order to connect with other touchy-feely types and not annoy the distance greeters. Even a tap on the arm to show understanding is infused into my chemistry. When my son was nearly a year old I remember him eating cereal bits off the floor of the airplane and thinking, “keep going baby, mama needs a few more minutes of rest”. Germs build your immune system and rest makes me a better person. Win. Win. All of our lives are infused with nuances and norms that we never expected to come to a crashing halt at the start of 2020. In fact, I write this from a house that I have shared exclusively and constantly with my kids and husband for the past 3 months, distance learning platforms open, and taking shifts with my partner to work and to play with the children, it’s a very different life and work experience than most of our alumni have associated with AISB. It’s hard to not feel the distance. The isolation that continues to drag on


ALWAYS A VAMPIRE even as things begin to re-open, as everyone remains cautious and careful and distanced. We look to the alumni at times like this, all around the world, who know what it means to be together, apart. Alumni know that you can simultaneously love and link and look to a place and a community, while being far away. They have shown us that, at AISB, we were given the tools we need, empowered with strength and resilience, and cared for as a member of the team. We know from them that, though they moved on, they still remain with us, and they bring some of us with them. For two years I’ve been listening intently to the stories of the AISB Alumni as the editor of the World Magazine. Of the students who walk out of our buildings to find their way in this world through airports, and adventures. Of the former teachers who continue their days of classrooms, and discussions that drive independent thought and future careers. Of the alumni parents who bring to their new school and country experiences of a place that was safe, supportive, and connected. I have listened as each one draws connections to their time at AISB, to the moments in time when their lives were influenced by a great school, a community, a common tie. Because our alumni know each moment they thrive or struggle, they grow or adapt, that AISB influenced the person they have become and the choices

they now make. They are connected as a Vampire, even when they are not physically here. The stories in this issue are about just that. About alumni who continue to exhibit the characteristics of a Vampire while in other places. The resilience and support of Alumni in Romania from their offices and internships initiating thousands of Euros in donations and services due to a global pandemic. The Stewart family, which consists of three former students that share stories of an unexpected and amazing international experience from their homes outside of Romania, while their parents help the school navigate an incredibly difficult time. We even have stories of illness, separation and struggle that remind us that we are strong and resilient and still united. This issue is about what it means to move on and away when you are still so linked, and how you live with a piece of everyone who made up your experience at AISB inside of you. We build on this connection and we thank the alumni for the way they exhibit their strength, networking and loyalty though distance, time and struggle.

Kirsten Pontius Editor

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The WORLD Magazine is published biannually for alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of AISB, the largest private, international school in Romania. TM

EDITORIAL TEAM LEAD EDITOR: Kirsten Pontius EDITORIAL TEAM: Fabiana Papastefani, Alex Cristescu, Michelle Ciubuc, George Mucibabici, CONTRIBUTORS Catalina Gardescu, George Mucibabici, Alex Cristescu, Peter Welch, Andy Mennick,Isabella Sarmiento, Patricia Khalil Warren AISB Student Contributors: Mara T. PHOTOGRAPHY AISB Archives, Bogdan Greavu DESIGN AND TYPOGRAPHY Mario Zamfir, Aliant Brands Ltd. ONLINE EDITION Aliant Brands SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Blvd. Pipera Tunari 196 Com. Voluntari Jud. Ilfov Romania 077190 Email: / LEARN ABOUT UPCOMING EVENTS Visit: Follow us on: Published by Aliant Brands Ltd. Print Circulation: 2000 copies / Electronic: 10,000 views Cover Design: Mario Zamfir ISSN 2537-3978 / ISSN 2537-3986 / ISSN-L 2537-3978

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.

The American International School of Bucharest supports a more sustainable environmnent. Please recyle this magazine when finished reading or using. Copyright © 2020 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. Trademarks: WORLDTM 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.


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Director's Message


Family That Stays Together


Association President


Resilience, Our Story


Interview: Andy Mennick

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Peter Welch's message on persevering through adversity and how to be adaptable.

How a family's resilience was and is still being tested during the pandemic.

Association unites to enhance student opportunities during the pandemic.



Maximizing Resilience in Uncertainty


Strong Together: Alumni Resilience

Stronger Than a Pandemic

Students transformed concerns about online learning into new opportunities.

Photo Gallery

The last eight weeks of the 2019-20 academic year took place online. It was virtual and it was reality.

Family’s Journey Through AISB History, Leadership & Success

There are few families that have left a stronger mark on our community than the Stewarts. Read their remarkable story in this exclusive interview.

How COVID-19 affected the travel plans of AISB's Alumna, Patricia Khalil Warren.

AISB Faculty Alumn, 2006-2014


The global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brought so much change in what we do and how we do it. This period showed us how much we can actually achieve and how resilient we are.

Amid the anxiety and the disappointment this year, the AISB community is providing much needed support for our communities, and for each other.

AISB Alumna, Caitlin Griffin with her husband Josh and their beautiful family of nine (five girls and four boys) at their home in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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Director's Message

Peter Welch / AISB Director

You may know people in your life who talk about this pandemic as some sort of opportunity for reinvention, a chance to reevaluate our habits and reset. There have certainly been some positives within our AISB community – colleagues have really pulled together, many of us have enjoyed more family time and I am daily impressed by the creativity of our teachers – and yet I find it hard to err on this sunny side. With the stresses and real suffering that this virus has caused, we – often the lucky ones – should count our blessings and take a sober account of what we are living through.


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AISB Leadership Team / 2019-2020 Academic Year

Like you, I suspect, I take part in a round of daily Zoom calls. Each week, I see my fellow directors in our sister CEESA schools. We all look wearied; we all share stories of trying to make the impossible and sometimes the absurd work at our schools. Here’s a comment from our last call: ‘80 per cent of my teachers are stranded outside the country and can’t get back in and we’re starting next Monday. What shall I do?’ Sometimes, we just have to laugh. And it is in that human reaction that I see the strength of the human spirit enduring. There is a line from an anti-hero in an Arthur Miller play that says that despite all the tough things he had lived through, every morning he gets up with a new feeling of hope. I remember that line quite often these days. By the end of my working days, there is usually

an accumulation of problems and fraught communications that I need to put down. I am just exhausted. Somehow, overnight, my reservoir of good will has filled back up and I tackle the next day. There is a reason that if someone offers you a chocolate cookie at 9 am, you might say no thank you, I am on a diet. Offered the same cookie at 9 pm, then you find yourself saying, Ok, go on then… Social science demonstrates that our resources of self-control, patience and empathy are finite; they get depleted through each day. And yet, these resources continue to fill back up. We can be remarkably resilient creatures. Through this crisis, I have felt so fortunate to work with outstanding colleagues who have showed such admirable resilience. This article

is for them. We know that habits of gratitude of sustaining in these times. So, I want to say that I am grateful to be part of an AISB community that is resilient, that is kind and united. This is the creative, compassionate and courageous school that we all believe in, that we said that we wanted to build together before this pandemic even started. This crisis has at least given us this powerful perspective on what we value and what matters. This is the optimism I can believe in. Regards,

Peter Welch Director

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From Three Locations,

A FAMILY OF FOUR STAYS TOGETHER For eight weeks [at the time of writing], starting in March 2020, I was quarantined in Washington DC. My father has been quarantined for nine weeks in Norway and my mother and sister for eight weeks in Montana. Two months ago, none of us fully understood or could comprehend what this growing pandemic meant and how greatly it would affect not only us but truly everyone else. Similar to most people living this we went through a period of feeling immune and untouchable. COVID-19 seemed so far, yes incredibly serious, but not close enough. But then I got sick. I did not have any of the major symptoms health professionals and the media told us to look out for: a fever, trouble


breathing, and a dry cough. I had a minor cough, fatigue for the first two days, and then complete loss of smell and taste. The first couple of days I didn’t get tested because health professionals stated they would not test anyone without a fever. As the days went on, I physically started to feel better, but my taste and smell were still gone. Two weeks after I first got sick news broke in the United States that loss of smell and taste was a significant symptom (which had been a known symptom in Europe for weeks) within younger adults. I called my doctor again for what felt like the thousandth time of explaining my symptoms and I was told to immediately come in and get tested. It was supposed to take three to four days for my results to come back and eleven days later they came in negative/ inconclusive. The doctor said that my coming in over two weeks after my initial symptoms would explain my results but based on my symptoms, she could confidently estimate that I had probably contracted COVID-19 but was now healthy. I am grateful and lucky that my situation was not as serious as others, but I was frustrated

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because I hadn’t not gone in because I was irresponsible but because I had continuously been advised not to. It taught me the importance of being an advocate for my health. I knew something was not right with my body and had to constantly convince others otherwise. My dad was in Norway at this time because that was where he was relocated for his job. My mom would usually be with him, but as my sister's university closed for the remainder of the semester, my mom stayed in Montana so my sister was not alone for months on end. We talk everyday through Whatsapp and Facetime, checking in with each other, we like to know what we all have planned for the day, and we send each picture of food we have been cooking and exchanging recipes. The difference in rules was pretty extreme. In Norway things quickly closed down. Even within the United States though the difference in rules between DC and Montana was large. DC essentially shut down and you could not and still cannot enter any public building without a mask. In

Montana they took it seriously for the first few weeks and then things went back to normal. For example, when I wrote this article, restaurants were still closed in DC but Montana had reopened restaurants to 50% capacity. My family’s and my resilience was and is still being tested. We talk everyday with the awareness we might go many more months without being able to see each in person. My mom has always referred to us as a nomadic tribe. For over 20 years the four of us moved around the world solely relying on each other. Now for the first time we are spread across the world unclear of what the future holds. We are aware there are families experiencing much stronger heartbreak and struggle and are thankful for those sacrificing themselves every day to help others. As a whole, humanity has been forced to be resilient. Through my family and friend’s resiliency, optimism has been possible. Isabella S.

Alexandru Cristescu / Association President


The last WM was celebrating the start of the new decade, bringing some amazing life stories from our alumni community and their families. Now that we are well into this new and surprising decade that started with a pandemic it is paramount to thank all those in the medical profession and everyone else who helped with donations, deliveries, services etc. making our way of life possible. Thank you so much! The AISB Alumni Association has continued our work as per our goals and strategy. We have hosted a very successful Career Speed Networking event at school before the health crisis and helped organize a few internships. Of course, with the closing of school for the academic year, we too have suspended our physical meetings and events. That being said, the team conducted online monthly meetings such as in May 2020 when we hosted our Senior Brunch and Letting GO events online for all those who could attend. The feedback was great for these two events with a new virtual format for us. We hope to see you as soon as possible at our reunions and events; until then, we will continue our work to add value to the AISB community in whatever capacity we can. Please,


if you need help we are here for you, reach out to us.

is due to international education and the communities it has developed. Societies A small thought from are richer for it. An open an association with an world has been a net international community: benefactor for everyone. This is not the first, The current situation probably not the last, is one of many we will pandemic the world will overcome together, with see. The last one was the resilience. Spanish Flu back in 1918 at the end of the First Everyone please stay World War. The world safe and healthy, it won’t and our societies have be long until we all can changed so much in the see each other. past years. Countries and communities were far less mobile and open to both ideas and each other. Today we have a more global outlook, with more opportunity, more acceptance and far more Alexandru Cristescu cultural diffusion. Association President The world reacted with solidarity and with unity. In some small part this

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Excerpts from

RESILIENCE, OUR STORY On Christmas Eve 2019, my husband and I found ourselves in a beautiful, quaint cottage in the middle of nowhere in South Australia wishing for the blessing of becoming parents. A few weeks later back home in Shanghai, we found out that our Christmas wish had been heard… I was expecting. The year before, we had planned a ski trip with friends, so before we knew it, we were off to Nozawaonsen, Japan for our 10-day trip. A few days into our ski trip, tensions were starting to fill the air. The coronavirus was making headlines, and it was especially relevant for us as our home in Shanghai was not far from the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan. Shortly after, we learned that schools were closed in China and we would not be returning home to Shanghai as planned. With our plans to return home derailed, on Sunday, February 2nd, we took the bullet train to Tokyo. Monday morning, we walked to an international medical center. It was there that we heard our 8-week-old baby’s heartbeat for the first time, saw the pulse on the screen, and saw the little nugget that was our little one. Love and hope cut through our anxieties and for a moment, the world stopped. We spent the rest of the month in Japan, as we mulled over what to do and where to go next. When considering where to go next, we had to consider the care we would need for our growing baby and considered our family’s homes in Canada and Romania. We arrived safe and sound in Romania on a Friday evening, two days before the COVID-19 virus took a turn for the worst in Italy. It was now February 21st, just over four weeks since we had initially left Shanghai. We ended up staying in Bucharest for nearly a month.


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With the situation quickly escalating in Europe, on Friday evening, March 20th, we made a very quick decision to travel back to Shanghai where things were plateauing. Twenty hours later we were on a plane; we flew through Dubai and Singapore on our way to Shanghai, aiming to avoid the 24 high-risk countries (at the time) that China had classified, as that would make our entry into Shanghai all the more complicated. Each time we got off a plane, we checked the news. Emirates was to stop flying from the next day. Singapore was to close its borders to transit passengers a mere 6 hours after our departure. China eventually closed its borders a few days after we arrived. How lucky were we to finally land in Shanghai at 9:30pm on March 22nd. Upon arrival, Shanghai’s Pudong airport had implemented thorough procedures for disembarkation, travel history interviews to class incoming travelers as high-, medium-, or lowrisk, and COVID-19 testing. We were classed as low-risk and received green stickers.

We got through customs and made it to baggage claim just before 1am. Luggage in hand and smiles on our faces, we high-fived (yes, actually), and we made our way to the exit, happy that we would be able to take a taxi and get home for some muchneeded sleep. We had been on the road for over 30 hours by now. Somehow, we were funneled through to the yellow-sticker area, where buses to testing centers were organized by the district you lived in. We clarified that we did not have yellow stickers, that we were in fact the proud holders of green stickers and that we could take a taxi home. We were informed that at midnight the procedure had changed, and we were one hour late to the taxi-home party. So off to the testing center we went, in the middle of the night. We finally arrived home at 4:30am on March 23rd after a 35-hour trip. This new mama needed some rest. Even though we had both tested negative for COVID-19, we still quarantined at home for 14 days because we are teachers. In retrospect, we are glad we had to get tested, because at least we could enjoy our 14 days in the confines of our home without having to worry that we might develop symptoms during that time period. And our compound management company was amazing. Mom and dad are so in love with their little world citizen already… their Australian, Chinese, Canadian, Romanian, Lebanese, Chilean nugget. Their international traveler who before her birth, has already been on three continents and in four countries (seven if you count transit countries), flown on nine flights, and fled a global pandemic. With a beginning such as this, who knows what fate holds for this world citizen growing in mommy’s belly. Patricia Khalil Warren AISB Alumna

ADVERTISE WITH US Advertising with the WORLD Magazine couldn’t be simpler. With a number of exciting opportunities both in print and online, WORLD Magazine is valued among its alumni readers. Close to 100 percent of our readers make a point not only to look at every issue that arrives at their home, but also spend a considerable amount of time reading it online. TM

For patrons, WORLD Magazine delivers an affluent, influential, and engaged readership worldwide in a respected editorial environment, delivered in a professionally edited and attractive package featuring among the best graphic design found in alumni magazines. The magazine’s “shelf life” represents one of its greatest advantages as a tool in your marketing arsenal. Support the AISB Alumni Association through your donation of cash or services and benefit from a space in the WORLD Magazine. TM



Catalina Gardescu AISB Admissions Manager

+4 021 204-4333

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Su mme r/ Fall 2 0 20 I W O R LD A LU M NI MAGA ZINE

Interview with

Andy Mennick Our Alumni Liaison Officer, Fabiana Papastefani tracked down one of our very special faculty alumni, Andy Mennick. Even though he had opted out of FB in China due to connectivity issues, we caught up with all the adventures he’s been having since leaving our community in 2014. When Andy shared about the intensity of his last year or so, we had to know more! From moving to Seoul in July, finding out he'd need to get a new job in October, and starting a US job search in Korea; to moving back to Hawaii in December, getting Covid-19 and ultimately starting a new job as Director of College Counseling at a new school, he’s happy with where he’s finally landed! World Magazine asked him about what he’s been up to recently: WM: What made you decide to repatriate back to the United States after so long overseas? AM: My most recent overseas stint lasted a bit over sixteen years. Coming back to the US is a bit of a story. While I was working at the International School of Beijing, the Chinese government changed the rules for working visas - particularly lowering the age at which a foreigner could get a work permit in China. Even though I had a few years to go, I decided it was probably best to start looking for a new job earlier than later. The job search that followed wasn’t the most-pleasant one I’ve had. Many countries have lowered the age at which foreigners can get a work permit, and I found that I could apply for less than a quarter of the available college counseling jobs that year. I accepted a position

at a very good school in Seoul, and thought I was set. In the spring, however, it appeared that the new HR staff had run into a learning curve and getting my work permit was in jeopardy. As a back-up, I reopened my job search and included the US - and was surprised to see how much interest there was from schools. At the end of the school year, it looked like my visa issues in South Korea were sorted out, so I started the 2019-20 school year in Seoul - only to find out that my visa may not last the year. It was a difficult decision, but I decided it would be best to leave the school at the end of first semester so I could still find a job. I decided to look only in the US, and started my job search in October. By the end of the semester I had a number of interviews but no job yet, so I went home to Hawai’i. Once back, I made several trips to the US mainland for finalist interviews, catching a case of Covid-19 during my travels. During my quarantine, I received an offer from my first-choice school, so three days after I was out of quarantine I flew from Kona to Boston - and straight into two more weeks of quarantine. I started work in mid-April, and love where I am working. I initially thought the transition to working in the US was going to be difficult, but it’s been quite positive. WM: What was it like to have Covid-19? AM: I was extremely fortunate to have a mild case. The main symptoms were weakness, confusion, and a 24-hour fever cycle (fine until noon, and then high temperature and feeling very sick for the rest of the day) that lasted about ten days. I didn’t mind being stuck inside, because I didn’t feel well most of the time, and have an amazing view of the ocean from my home.

AISB Faculty Alumn, 2006-2014

WM: Where are you currently working? AM: I am now the Director of College Counseling at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. It’s one of the oldest day/ boarding schools in the US, but is an atypical one. The school purposely accepts and supports a wider range of learners than most East Coast prep schools, and is very successful at being inclusive in so many ways. The down-toearth nature of the school along with its history of success with students attracted me the most. Q: You shared with me that you didn’t have a chance to physically go into your new job. What was it like to start a new job at a distance? AM: It’s been very peculiar to start a new job entirely with Zoom meetings! At the same time, my colleagues have been terrific, and we’ve all pulled together to make things work. One advantage is that I need to do a lot of data analysis to get started with my work here, and not having many interruptions has made that process go faster. I realize there’s a lot I don’t know about how things work at the school, and I’m finding out by doing - which isn’t a bad way to learn at all. What’s perhaps been the strangest element is that my household goods haven’t arrived yet, and I’ve got a bit of IKEA and rented furniture in an apartment that echoes quite a bit! Fortunately, the movers are coming soon, so things will seem at least a bit more-normal. Q: What did take away from your time at AISB and Romania?

relationships,” and I think that characterizes AISB at its best. I worked with so many incredible students, and enjoyed being given the chance to develop a program to better serve them. Likewise, I was fortunate to work with some profoundly-talented colleges. Cathy Ottaviano was the best counseling colleague I ever had (and her husband Dave the best school head from whom I’ve ever worked), and my ongoing professional conversations with Melody Wong and Raluca Paraschivescu did a great deal to help me improve my practice. I greatly enjoyed the dayto-day life in Bucharest, and made sure that I always lived within walking distance of the Romanian Athenaeum, which kind of became my second home in Romania. It was also rewarding and moving to do the college counseling service projects I undertook with the English teachers/counselors at the Romanian national school in Suceava. I feel badly that the link with them has been broken, as they were tremendously inspiring educators and kids. Q: Favorite memory of AISB and/or Romania? AM: My favorite AISB memory? Easy: The Sunday App-O-Rama sessions with the seniors during application season and the Senior Parade before graduation. Oh, and the ongoing sessions of me and Madame Paraschivescu making fun of each other to entertain students. For Romania? The Bruckner performances from the Enescu Philharmonic, great meals with friends at La Cantine du Nicolai, and walks in the parks.

AM: I particularly enjoyed the campus culture at AISB. Jane Wells and I used to say that AISB was “A school of formal academic expectations and informal

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When AISB announced its closure due to coronavirus in March, everyone awkwardly stumbled upon Zoom, not knowing what exactly to expect. Although there was excitement about taking classes while in a large group face call, distance learning created lots of uncertainties. Most on-campus events and initiatives were canceled, and many worried that they would lose the sense of connection with the school community.


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However, students transformed these concerns into the anticipation of new opportunities. One by one, volunteers stepped up to lead activities like beat-making, creative arts, and workout during flex time (MYP free block). A digital version of the Friday Lunch Lounge was launched, where people could post photos and videos of their creations and talents. Servicelearning groups were also back in session to discuss how to best advocate their cause and provide aid digitally. One of the biggest successes was AISB’s first Human Rights Week, delivered online by Amnesty International. After several preparatory sessions, they swapped physical workshops with Zoom discussions, podcasts, articles, and an informative website that combined everything together. “I think that the main advantage of organizing an event over zoom is that it is easier to raise awareness and get people interested,” explains Mara T., the student leader of Amnesty International. “Distance learning has taught us that service is not about grand or extravagant gestures, but small and meaningful actions such as a presentation about women’s rights or a podcast about people’s experience with freedom of speech during communist Romania.” This courageous first step created a ripple effect. Many inspired student groups were beginning similar digital projects of their own, taking a more positive approach to distance learning. Another example of a successful initiative is Earth Week, organized

Human Rights Week Day 2: Human Trafficking presentation delivered by student group FACT

by AISB members who share care for the environment. Taking one step further, the team was able to host local environmental NGO representatives and climate activists in their lunchtime Zoom discussions. Gabrielle W., a Grade 9 student, was one of the student leaders to organize Earth Week during distance learning. “After the coronavirus hit, most of us assumed the event would be canceled and the group began to dissipate a bit,” she says. “This eventually worked in our favor, however, because a greater variety of people joined our cause. [...] Knowing that there are other individuals out there who care enough to take the time of day provides a tremendous sense of community.” Other service groups have been staying in touch with their Romanian counterparts to provide necessities and aid during the national lockdown. Service Learning Council Leader Andrei V. explains, “Groups are working on collecting games for the children of Fundatia Inocenti, several boxes of food were delivered to a HIV+ group, and small groups of students have been cleaning up green areas around their houses, within the government regulations.” The students’ families Some students, with the help of their families, have also supported a small private orphanage to ensure they had enough food while in quarantine. “The overall feedback that we received from the community is that they were pleased to be engaged in such activities, and the “organizers” thought it went better than it would’ve if they were to organize it on campus,” Andrei mentions. Besides, service wasn’t the only factor that bonded students in different grade

Day 3 of Earth Week: Zoom discussion with Investigator Veronica Tulpan of Agent Green, a Romanian organization advocating for the protection of forests and national parks.

levels over the shared passions and interests. The Current Affairs Discussion Group, organized by English teacher Ian Edwards, allows anyone from Grade 9 and 10 to share their opinions about diverse world events and make new connections. “The meetings have been incredibly engaging so far,” says Ingrid Z., who took part in the group discussions. “We delved into relevant issues such as the prioritization of the economy over public health, lockdown and quarantine measures, while also dedicating time to philosophical topics like how to define art.” Gabrielle, also involved in the discussion group, underlines why showing resilience through such activities is so crucial at this time. “Belonging is important both within our AISB community, Bucharest, Romania, and the global community.” She continues, “The ability to show that we are still able to band together and share a passion for a worthy cause is deeply meaningful.” Distance learning has been a new experience for everyone, and it is normal to feel alienated at times. Nonetheless, AISB students were given the privilege to continue their educational curriculum online and connect with various people across grade levels. “During quarantine and lockdowns, it is crucial for those involved to know that they are not alone. That despite the situation, we are a community that supports each other,” comments Andrei. “It’s important to give back to the community – at all times – and now it’s more needed than ever.” Flora P. Journalism Student

Student artworks from Lines & Patterns Creative Activity led by Lucia L. (G11) during flex time

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Su mme r/ Fall 2 0 20 I W O R LD A LU M NI MAGA ZINE

There are few families that I remember in my twenty years at AISB that have left a stronger mark on our community than the Stewarts. CAITLIN [Class of 2002] JAMES [Class of 2005] IAN

[Class of 2008]

All of them have attended and graduated from AISB. I still remember Caitlin’s love for small children, her teaching

them Irish dances when we had just moved into the current AISB campus. Before she graduated, I was convinced that she would make a wonderful early learning teacher. Mother of nine, she has combined her passion for teaching with the immense love and strength it takes to care and raise such an amazing family. If one goes down to the Secondary Gym today, the names of Ian Stewart and James Stewart prominently stand out as Most Valuable Players, as the sports stars that they were in school - AISB owes them many trophies from the case that their father has helped build. Eileen Stewart was one of

the very first people who helped me understand the concept of a Parent and Teacher Organization and the importance that parent support has for our school programs. It was hard for a while to realize that Eileen was not school staff as she was on the campus helping so often. Last but definitely not least, Jim Stewart contributed countless hours as a volunteer member of our Board of Trustees for over two decades, guarding over the school finances and bringing all of his expertise into making sure we are sustainable, that we grow into the very best international educational institution of Romania. Working with over five Directors and two Business Managers,

seeing the school go from a couple of hundred students to over one thousand, Jim’s job was not easy and it was incredibly meaningful. We have reached out to the Stewarts to see where they are in the world and what they are doing these days. As you will see in their responses, the Stewarts truly embody our motto - once a vampire, always a vampire. Their many and fond memories of the years at AISB, their continuing to be part of our community after graduation is a testament to that. We asked the family a few questions about their time at AISB:

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WM: Stewart Family, when you think of AISB, what comes up in your mind? Ian: When I think of AISB the things there are a lot of good memories however the things that come to mind first are the good relationships that were created and still maintained today (both friends and teachers), the athletics and tournaments, and specific classes and lessons. I still speak to many of my good friends from the years and have gone to weddings, visited them, etc. Some specific examples - I recall my economics classes and biology with Mr. Popovich (11th grade) and Mr. Frampton (11th & 12th) as well as History with Dr. Chapman (9th and 10th). They were all great teachers. When it comes to sports I recall the 10th and 11th grade basketball seasons (Elliott and Popovich coaching), volleyball with Mr. Newell.


Again, the common denominator was that they were all great coaches and taught us lessons that transcended sports (especially the case with Mr. Elliott). Caitlin: When I think of AISB I think about all of the wonderful friendships I made and how much fun it was to attend school there. The experiences I had, friends I made and especially the wonderful teachers I had, definitely have played an important role in who I am today. (I even had one of them in my wedding party) James: It would be impossible to narrow the what down to just one thing. I wouldn't have traded the CEESA tournaments for anything and I was lucky enough to play on the same teams with my freshman brother, Ian, in my senior year. It was also on the 2004 Varsity Volleyball trip where I met my future wife, Nadia, who was attending that other AISB to the northwest. We've since put any rivalries aside, I think.

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Eileen: When I think of AISB what comes to mind are all the wonderful people I have met and friends I have made. Also how the Moms (mostly Moms) had our "PTO" meetings and any kind of organizational meetings in our own houses. It was a busy and very warm feeling of getting to know the AISB community. I also remember the Booster Club, the Sports & Arts tournaments, hosting of kids for the tournaments and the behind the scenes work for the success of these tournaments. Jim: What comes to my mind is the tremendous evolution of the School over the last 20 years since I first arrived in the summer of 2000. The School operated out of three rented locations around the city making it challenging dropping the children off to school each day. At that time I think the School had around 300 students. Fast forward to today. We have a modern campus that is one

of the best in CEESA with over 1,000 students. This, of course, would not have been possible without the support of an involved parent community, dedicated teachers and support staff, great Headmasters and a Board of Trustees that had a long term vision for our School. The best part was that many of the people from the categories just mentioned turned into long time friends.

WM: asked the “kids”, “Where are you now and what are you doing? Is this what you thought you would be doing when you attended AISB?” Ian: I am currently living in Hoboken, NJ (outside NYC). For the last 9 years or so since graduating from college I have spent my time working in financial services and real estate. Currently I am trading for myself and attempting to make a career of it. Looking at markets, companies, economies etc.

has always been an interest of mine (maybe stemming from those early economics classes with Popovich). I am not too surprised that I ended up in Financial Services right out of college as I majored in Finance and had a passion for economics but the path can never be predicted! On a personal note, I got engaged this past summer to Jenna (2019) and will be getting married April 2021. Caitlin: I have been married to my husband Josh for almost 16 years. We live in the Philadelphia suburbs but are about to make a move to Charleston, SC. I am currently a stay at home/homeschooling mom for our nine children, five girls and four boys, learning how to praise God through all seasons! My main desire in life was always to be a stay at home mom so yes, I do believe that this is what I thought I would be doing back when I was at AISB! James: After graduating from AISB in 2005 I completed my first year of university in Madrid, Spain and then transferred to and graduated from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia with a Marketing

degree. I reconnected with Nadia in 2007 when she started at Fordham University in New York and we were married in 2014. We're currently settled (for now!) in New Jersey, just outside New York City, which makes it convenient for both of our jobs. I started off in IT Recruiting but quickly realized that wasn't going to be a longterm move for me and after a few years decided to make a change. Since 2015 I've been working in IT Management for WeWork where I'm focused on managing technology support teams, strategy, and operations for the United States & Canada. When I'm not working, I still like to stay active and I really enjoy biking. I certainly couldn't have predicted this path just like how my father probably never expected to spend half of his career in Eastern Europe and have his children graduate from anything other than a high school in the United States! But there we were! Life is unpredictable! I think high school students today are so lucky to have instant access to a wealth of information and resources to help guide them in narrowing down their interests.

My AISB years were the quickest and slowest years of my life. When I was there it seemed like it would last forever and then after it was over I was asking myself how it went by so quickly. WM: You have been involved in the AISB community for a long time. What made you remain so committed? Jim: It was back in the summer of 2000 right after we had arrived in Bucharest that I met the DCM (Deputy Head of Mission) of the US Embassy, Susan Johnson. She asked me to be on the Board of AISB due to the experience that I had being on several non-profit boards in the US. Little did I know that I would be on the Board 20 years later. I always believed in being on a Board, if I can contribute to the development of that organization. I also believe in giving back to the community in which I or my family have been part of.

AISB has been instrumental in the success my children have become today and for that I am ever grateful. I wanted to see the School develop to be the best education facility in Romania so that other families and their children can have the same experience my family did. We will miss AISB and its community when we eventually leave. Eileen - I am proud to have supported Jim in his many years on the Finance Committee. He always had the benefit and future of the school and its students as his driving force.

Introduction and interview questions by Catalina Gardescu, AISB Manager of Admissions & External Relations

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When we were toasting to the new year 2020, no one could prepare us for what this year had in store. Not just for me, my family and my school, but for the entire humanity. My work as the External Relation Coordinator at AISB is about relationships with the public, and we often envision just one way of doing our job: going to work, meeting people, organizing events and networking with various members of the community. The global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brought so much change in what we do and how we do it. This period showed us how much we can actually achieve and how resilient we are. In our day to day life, in normal circumstances, we always


know who or where our tribe, our family and community is. In normal circumstances, we do not think too often about our wider community, because in our busy lives we do not have so much room for that. Some of us are involved in charity and social projects but I had been observing how many of those projects are stand-alone, they do not connect with each other, or do not get so much visibility, thus allowing them to gain momentum and participation. The crisis generated by this pandemic, saw “our tribe” reach completely different sizes and boundaries. Such a roller coaster of emotions, in such a short timeframe: worry, overwhelm, uncertainty, nervousness, fear, to then experience excitement and happiness seeing how people were coming together, in such a short time, people were turning their resources and businesses into serving and supporting others. I witnessed and was part of projects in which people were reaching out to people, that in other circumstances they would not. I witnessed how in a matter of days, a relatively small community of Romania -the

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AISB community - was made aware, part of and collected more than 150 thousand Euro to support the call for help from The Colentina Hospital, to purchase personal protection equipment, monitoring equipment, medical devices, and so on. I watched how donations kept gathering and, in the meantime, how our alumni team was sharing news of other alumni and businesses that they either owned, managed or were working with, who had become part of the huge COVID 19 - support structure developing before our eyes. I saw how businesses that were shut down, put their facilities and resources to use and in support of the community by preparing and delivering meals to medical staff in various hospitals, or meals for public order forces serving on the streets of the city, for the ambulance drivers and paramedical staff, for SMURD, guards, and other support staff. I saw a whole school “move” to learning online and still being a school, being a community - online! I saw teachers, counselors, coaches getting online with students at all hours of the day,

I saw our alumni reaching out to our seniors, getting ready to “take off” to whatever reality after high school. Watching all this, and despite the inevitable feelings of nervousness and uncertainty that most of us were feeling in the middle of this pandemic, I immediately thought of the thousand of sheets and cardboard hanging in the balconies and windows all over the world: #allisgoingtobealright! Yes, we will be fine, we will be alright because we care, because we react, because we reach out, because we are resilient. I knew, while watching all this unfold in front of my eyes, that this community is made to survive, is made to stick together, and care for one another. I knew right away that we are this organic body that is “mutating” to adapt to whatever we were moving to. The Alumni Association events at AISB around this part of the year centered around our seniors. In the past, we had waited for them to be done with all their IB exams and we would welcome them to a brunch, treat them to some yummy food, while we introduced them to the new stage of Vampire life: AISB Alumni life!


The second event we organize with senior students and parents is the Letting GO day. We have some of our alumni studying or working in different areas of the world sharing with parents and the brandnew alumni experiences, tips and information on settling in a new country, in university, offering

tips on needs when away from the daily family care and support. None of that was possible this year, and just like all AISB classes and meetings moved online, we followed suit and moved our events on the Zoom platform. We knew we could not have the same structure, so we decided to merge these two events: Introduction to alumni world & Letting GO, splitting participants in separate rooms, as per the various places where our seniors are planning to and live. These events turned out to be exceptionally well received and useful. Our alumni in the US, UK, Canada and The Netherlands – in lockdown in these countries, studying and taking exams online, very generously, made some room in their schedules and got on these zoom sessions with our seniors and their parents. Questions came from both parents and seniors and our alumni gave very detailed, honest, and structured feedback and information on the respective countries, characteristics of life in these countries, dos and don’ts when at university abroad.

We were so proud to see our alumni lead discussions in very delicate topics like emotional, mental and physical health aspects, being mindful, as well as about opportunities to address them properly by professionals in the respective country, or exploring the opportunity to fly home and take care of them with the support of the family. The energy exchanged was amazing, it was a great break for our alumni who were busy with work projects or exams – some of them on babysitting duty for their new-born nephew!

If you would like to know more about the AISB Alumni Association, please visit our alumni portal ( or get in touch with us via email. ( ONCE A VAMPIRE, ALWAYS A VAMPIRE!

Fabiana Papastefani AISB Alumni Coordinator

The message to all our alumni parents, students and teachers was loud and clear: the AISB Alumni are very committed to serving the community also after they leave AISB. We offer some very precious connections, projects,internship, study or work opportunities for our ASIB students and alumni, and we look forward to seeing everyone enjoy these connections and contribute to increasing this network even further.

Fabiana Papastefani / AISB Alumni Coordinator

Every year Seniors’ Brunch is such a lovely event, bringing us all out in the school park, enjoying brunch, enjoying the weather and each other’s company, playing some games, introducing them to the alumni world and, finally, presenting them an alumni gift. This is when the Alumni Association showed seniors who we are, engaging them in the very first networking event that they will do as young adults. We introduced them to other generations of alumni, talk to seniors about what alumni do, where they are, how and why networking with them all is key, how this benefits them and our entire community, how this network is creating little by little this web of contacts and connections that insures the flow of opportunities, exchange of information and support through various generations of alumni.

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As soon as Romania entered into a state of emergency in March, 2020, many hospitals were tasked to serve only COVID-19 patients, amongst them also, the Colentina Hospital in Bucharest. Many health institutions around the world found themselves in the trenches of this global pandemic with very limited resources – human resources but also personal protection equipment, observation and intensive care equipment and any additional supplies to support pandemic medical protocols in the COVID-19 care wards. Our alumni, Michelle Ciubuc, in her last year of medicine studies and doing her internship at the Colentina Hospital, disclosed early in the crisis, her concern with the resources available in that health institution. The hospital was not equipped to handle the number of ill people needing care, treatment and services required by this highly contagious virus. Both from an infrastructure point of view, as well as monitoring equipment, intensive care equipment, resuscitation

equipment and personal protection equipment. The managers of the Colentina Hospital, like many health institutions all over the globe, feeling so overwhelmed by the situation at hand, immediately began to run the numbers and inventory supplies determining what they needed to continue in this crisis. The initial figure for the most urgent supplies was 500,000 RON (just over 100,000 Euro), which sounded like an overwhelming figure to obtain in a matter of days, but it was desperately needed. The hospital published the call for help, with detailed needs, costs, and bank details, and Michelle shared this with our alumni team. We immediately decided to share the call for help with the wider AISB Community, hoping to support, at least in a small part, the efforts of this hospital. Catalina Gardescu, the AISB Admissions & External Relations Manager, shared the hospital letter with all AISB communities that same day. The day after, Catalina wrote to our

team announcing that people were reacting fast: personal donations, small businesses and larger businesses, the numbers kept rising, the donation amount was growing bigger and bigger in a matter of hours. It was such a great feeling to witness - how through challenge and overwhelm, AISB alumni, families and staff showcased such hope, enthusiasm, pride for our community and pure generosity.

In only a few days, the AISB community raised approx. €150,000! As the donation money was made available to the hospital, we had the chance to contact the managers of the hospital and we learned from them that they had already prepared a strategy for purchase & use of the below equipment and supplies: • Washing machines to wash all the scrubs and clothes of medical staff • Personal Protective

Equipment for entire medical staff of the hospital on all specialties • Ozone generator Upon hearing our request for donations, HEINEKEN, one of AISB’s community supporters, sponsored the hospital with audio equipment that allows doctorpatient communication between the green and red zones of the facility. This was incredibly useful and greatly improved the efficiency of the hospital dealing with such an unprecedented situation. This system allowed for uninterrupted communication between patients and the medical staff, while their movement was safely limited between the infected (and potentially infected people) and the rest of the staff and patients. We also came to know that another AISB family, the Krenzia family, through their company, ALKA, supplied coffee machines and STRETTO coffee for the medical staff of the Colentina Hospital. A generous and much appreciated burst of energy for the hard working individuals who

were regularly putting others before themselves. We are still hearing more and more about so many other members of the community jumping in at different moments with support, money or services, and we grow more and more grateful for this community we are part of, and for being able to experience the solidarity, the innovations, and selfless acts, despite the difficulties that all businesses are facing in this situation, despite the numerous challenges we are presented with during this time. This was yet again an illustration of how the AISB family collectively and simultaneously decided that we, as a global community, are ourselves a precious resource. We stepped up to care,. support, and protect each other, especially in such difficult times.

Fabiana Papestefani AISB Alumni Coordinator

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HEINEKEN ROMANIA At HEINEKEN, supporting the community is equally important as growing our business. During this difficult period, we at HEINEKEN Romania wanted to contribute to the joint effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. We decided that the strongest impact we can have is by supporting hospitals, medical staff and, implicitly, affected patients. At the beginning of April, we launched a local COVID-19 community support program with a total fund of + 1,500,000 RON. We chose to get 100% involved: we got in touch with 5 local hospitals, in Bucharest and the 4 communities where our breweries are, as well as with the local authorities, in order to understand exactly what were the most pressing needs at the time. We purchased the necessary equipment (protection gear for hospitals staff, medical devices and systems) and delivered them to the 5 beneficiaries. As part of our COVID-19 community support program, we have also offered a donation to the Romanian Red Cross and we engaged our team into making individual contributions. The first donation we made was the one for the Colentina Clinical Hospital in Bucharest. We purchased and donated an electronic emergency call system for intensive beds, much needed for patients in Intensive Care. The value of the purchase was 250,000 RON. ”We are going through an exceptional period, full of challenges and uncertainty. It is important for us, as a company, to support the communities of which we are part of. We wish to offer support to those affected and to the medical staff who are fighting daily with the effects of this pandemic.” – Dan Robinson, Managing Director – HEINEKEN România. It was an extraordinary mobilization from our team and the satisfaction we have equals it. In less than a month since we designed this plan, our donations have been delivered to hospitals that needed them. We are glad we could offer our support and we congratulate all those who gave a helping hand during this period – whether companies, associations or individuals.


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On March 26, 2020 Red Angus Steakhouse (, owned and run by our AISB Alumni, Dragos Panait (Class 2005), launched “Together, against COVID-19”, an initiative meant to help support the healthcare professionals that were on the frontlines diagnosing and treating patients infected with the coronavirus. The project started initially only utilizing the resources of Red Angus, who decided to donate about 600 meals over a period of time. Each meal consisted of a soup and a main course. They very quickly realized that this number would cover staff meals for only 2 days for the “Prof. Dr. Matei Bals” National Institute of Infectious Diseases, as well as the “Dr. Victor Babes” Clinical Hospital. The Red Angus decided to launch a larger campaign and look for any entity, person and company who would be willing to get onboard and donate the funds for any number of meals, that were calculated to cost 17 Lei each. At first, they contacted just a few businesses and invited them to cover the daily meal costs for healthcare professionals, but the initiative spread and was received so well by the wider community, that they were approached by partners, loyal guests and, even people who didn’t know the establishment and asked what they could do to donate and support. Businesses and individuals joined in and started funding from just a single meal to hundreds of meals. It was so heartwarming and satisfying to see how the community was pulling together. “It was really amazing to be a part of that.” - Dragos Panait The project became so popular that some of theThe Angus Steakhouse partners contacted the restaurant, offering their support and even developed further solutions for the initiative. The AISB alumni and parent Michael Kaiser got involved with his food supply company DELIRO (, donating about 140 kilograms of meat products and finger food to be included in the menus. Red Angus then partnered up with the entrepreneurs who own and operate Expressoft and LOKOFOOD - the food delivery website. They created a special page where users could securely pay for the meals while also covering all the costs associated with the transfer and banking fees, so the full amounts would be received. With consistent efforts and daily discussions, we managed to bring in over 25 corporate partners and over 50 private donors, adding the Colentina Clinical Hospital to our list of healthcare units. We are very thankful to the AISB community for the support, for being an important part of our campaign. The campaign continued: “Together, against COVID-19”, (statistics as of June 1, 2020)

600+ 9,300+ 25+ 50+ meals supplied by Red Angus

menus delivered with the help of the Red Angus community & partners

corporate partners

individual contributors


hospitals supported with meals

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A BUSINESS THAT CARES This is the story of a wonderful group of people, with passion and vision not just for what they do, but for the community they live and do business in.

Because life is too short to just do one thing, and because I have always been passionate about knowing food, and making the food I know I like, in the past couple of years I have enjoyed a part-time evening job at one of the most special restaurants in Bucharest - KAIAMO. I had heard of them, of how they treat the food - ingredients, process of making the food - what/how they serve their clients, as well as about the chef working there. Radu Ionescu, a Le Cordon Bleu Institute graduate, with a Grand Diplôme de Cuisine et Pâtisserie, inspired me not just through his cooking skills, but also his journey: how he started without haughtiness, from small restaurants, he progressed to working in the kitchens of 5-Star hotels, culminating with a period of working in the kitchen of the famous chef Ollie Dabbous, at his extravagant location awarded 1 Michelin star. I was looking for a place that would inspire me, that encompassed the care for the local & genuine ingredients and tradition, design and architecture, taste and character, but also the love for people: the ones who worked and served, as well as the people choosing this place to enjoy an exceptional experience. This was KAIAMO. Since my recent assignment at Raiffeisen Bank, I don’t have the time to keep working regularly at KAIAMO, but have remained in touch with the team, visiting from time to time, making food with


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them, and finding inspiration. During COVID-19 pandemic, they closed down for business, just like all restaurants and cafés all over Romania and in most countries globally. I had one more reason for inspiration and pride of being part of this group of amazing people when they decided to embark on a special project: meals for people who in the pandemic crisis days were serving in the health centers, on the streets, etc.

“It was give-back time, we did not know how and when our businesses would open, but we knew there were people serving non-stop on various fronts, who needed help and support, and we could not sit and watch. We decided it was time we brought our input to the authorities in the front line confronting the Coronavirus in Bucharest. Just as vulnerable, fragile and exposed as all doctors and nurses of our country. Amongst the ones in need, we addressed:

The initiative started on Good Friday, 17th April. The Kaiamo team knew there were other businesses (our alumni Red Angus Steakhouse, for example) preparing and delivering food for medical staff in various hospitals and they realized that there were also other teams, quite as important as medical teams.

- Radu Ionescu, Owner & Chef of Kaiamo

Easter celebration is very important for so many people around the world, as well as for Romanian people, and this year it was going to be very different for us all. They started to cook and deliver food to the authorities involved in keeping all of us safe during this global pandemic, to those overseeing the empty streets of our capital, whilst making sure we will be able to overcome this difficult time in our life.

George Mucibabici Jr.


This campaign went on until May 17th, 2020, with more than 6000 meals prepared and delivered. In this initiative they teamed up with their partners from Metaminds, a Romanian company with over 10 years of excelling in integrating IT Solutions, we were able to offer up to 400 menus/ day to these front-line heroes”. Vice President, Alumni Association & Alumni Business Community Coordinator

with support from Fabiana Papastefani

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This spring, along with the rest of the world, AISB was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the safety of our students, faculty and staff as our priority, we made the right decision to move to online learning. Since then we remained electonically connected, albeit physically distant. These are some of our experiences:


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A Community Comes Together


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The last few months of the 2019-20 academic year continued online. It was virtual and it was reality. And, in many ways, it was also a success. For a generation that grew up online, adjusting to school work via computer and the internet wasn’t a huge stretch.


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Do you have a story to tell?

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! Have you landed your dream job? Are you traveling? Have you reached a personal goal? Are you making waves in improving the world around you? Where has life taken you since AISB? Please message us via Facebook, or send an e-mail to:, and let us know what's new! No matter the story, we want to know! (Remember, our alumni consist of former students, staff, faculty and parents.) We may even feature YOU in the widely read Alumni World Magazine.


196 Pipera Blvd. Voluntari, Ilfov County, 077190 Romania Tel: (40 21) 204-4300


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