World Magazine - Spring 2017

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Class of 2009. From student to US Active Duty Naval Officer. Read the full interview on page 9.


STEP INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY – The Campaign for AISB's Design & Engineering Center, is a great opportunity to show that our community can join forces and partner up to create something truly remarkable. Read more on page 11.

CAREER NETWORKING DAY The Alumni Association organized another successful Career Networking Day at AISB for its Grade 10 students in the newly renovated Secondary School Library. Read more on page 25.

EDUARDO YREZABAL Representative in Romania of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees



Romanian Feature 2

The Palace of Culture, Iasi County

This remarkable construction (1906-1925), built in flamboyant neogothic style, stands partly on the ruins of a medieval royal court mentioned in documents dating from 1434. Today, the 365-room palace houses the Gheorghe Asachi Library and four of the city's museums: the Moldavian History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of Art and, the Museum of Science and Technology. The interior dĂŠcor, with the lavish furnishings and magnificent staircase of the entrance lobby, can be admired free of charge, but tickets are required for entry to the museums.


Change Is Necessary

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." – George Bernard Shaw Salwa Patricia Khalil / Editor

This issue of the WORLD™ Magazine is packed with interviews that share a common thread: change. Change is necessary in today’s ever developing world; we must continue to progress in order to keep up with the moving currents. Mark Phillips, Class of 2009, shares his experiences as a US Active Duty Naval Officer, embracing the changes in his life that allowed him to appreciate and value an international lifestyle. Likewise, Nathalie Notarianni, Class of 2013, talks about how the unique opportunity of growing up in various diverse, culturallyrich countries has shaped her future career ambitions. Similarly, Jan van Groningen and Vik Salic share the story about their transition into the hospitality industry with a new culinary endeavor for them both: Fish House.

The cover interview in this issue reminds us that regardless of how changes may affect certain individuals or contained demographic groups, we all share one planet and therefore a responsibility to care for one another. Mr. Eduardo Yrezabal, the Representative in Romania of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, shares his insight, discussing the realities of the many refugee crises that exist all over the world. He talks about the changes that refugees and asylum seekers experience due to persecution, and what we can do as a greater community, to offer our support. This issue also invites readers to discover the world of fictional writing in an honest and profound account from former teacher, Rod Lamirand, who describes the process of going from teacher to author. Exploring a different angle, Andrei Harnagea, Class of 2007, considers the notion of blind faith when making career and life decisions. We also hear from Dr. Oana Taban, AISB mother, who shares her passionate story that describes her journey from dentist to business woman. As an alumni group, we are actively supporting our High School students to understand and make the most of their upcoming academic transitions by leading them through a number of seminars focusing on best-fit choices for the IB Diploma Program and University. Likewise, AISB is itself experiencing vast developments. We are

shifting our approaches to remain at the forefront of 21st century advances and challenges. This issue of the WORLD™ Magazine will reveal two incredible projects that reaffirm AISB’s position as a leader in international education in Eastern Europe. While we might consider the thread that ties this issue together to be change, I am also in a privileged position to observe that each story echoes the genuine appreciation that our contributors share for AISB. The AISB community has not only offered our alumni unique experiences and steps to success, but a true feeling of community and togetherness that lives on through their daily interactions. As AISB enters a new era to equip students with the 21st Century skills to tackle change, we call on our network of alumni across the world to be part of this incredible progress. We encourage you to join us on our private network at to stay informed while building your professional and personal relationships. Enjoy the pages in this issue of the WORLD™ Magazine.

Salwa Patricia Khalil, AISB Communications & Alumni Coordinator / Editor



VOLUME 5 / ISSUE 2 SPRING 2017 EDITORIAL TEAM Dorothea Achim, Alex Cristescu, Patricia Khalil, Ana Teodorescu CONTRIBUTORS Robert Brindley, Alex Cristescu, Jan van Groningen, Andrei Harnagea, Patricia Khalil, Rob Lamirand, Nathalie Notarianni, Mark Phillips, Vik Salic, Dr. Oana Taban, Eduardo Yrezabal PHOTOGRAPHY AISB Archives Bogdan Greavu DESIGN AND TYPOGRAPHY Mario Zamfir School Brand LLC ONLINE EDITION School Brand LLC WORLD ALUMNI MAGAZINE Blvd. Pipera Tunari 196 Com. Voluntari Jud. Ilfov Romania 077190 Tel.: 021 204-4300 Fax: 021 204-4384 Email: Published by Design Works Publishing Co Print Circulation: 1000 copies Electronic Circulation: 2000 copies 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.

Copyright © 2017 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: 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.


Press Release - AISB Design & Engineering Center

24 28

Grade 10 Career Networking Day

Interview with Dr. Oana Taban / DENT ESTET

CONTENTS 06 08 09 11 12 16 19 20 22





Director's Message

Dr. Robert Brindley / AISB Director

In early 2016, The AISB Board of Trustees approved the first major upgrade and expansion to the school’s facilities since the current school campus was completed in 2001. The construction of the purpose-built Early Learning Center began soon after and in a few short weeks, we will be in the final stages – putting the finishing touches on the exterior of the edifice and starting the interior design for an August 2017 inauguration.



In the design stage, we followed the credo that ‘form follows function;’ that is, construction was based upon the intended educational purpose for the space and not the other way round, as can often be the case. So, with this parameter in mind, we designed the new Early Learning Center based on the educational philosophy that a young child’s development is enhanced through: teaching symbolic languages, be they mathematical, artistic or dramatic; developing fine motor control, sorting, or hand-eye coordination; and promoting mutual respect and personal accountability. This innovative Early Learning Center will have a dramatic positive impact on the learning of our youngest children as they get used to the increased space that has been purposefully designed to meet their needs. These formative years lay the foundations for their future learning by developing the conceptual framework and educational fundamentals for successful life-long learning. As such, the opening of the Early Learn-

ing Center this fall will enable our educators to apply a new pedagogical philosophy focusing on exploration and discovery of the senses – one that will give our youngest learners the tools and principles to succeed in a supportive and enriching environment. Once the current early childhood space is vacated by our youngest learners, we will begin the conception of the brilliant Design and Engineering Center, opening in 2018. The world is changing rapidly, indeed it has already changed significantly, and our curriculum should be revitalized if we really are to prepare our students for a world that will transform even more dramatically in the years to come. I am strongly of the belief that the mastery of core knowledge areas, such as English (reading or language arts), mathematics, science and history, will still remain essential. Likewise, Drama, Music and Visual Art, along with athletics and personal fitness, will expand horizons

necessary for a fulfilling life. However, it is in the area of technology, in its broadest sense, product design, creativity and innovation that we will start to develop in the Design and Engineering Center. This center represents a giant leap in preparing our children to lead the future. This uniquely designed, innovative space, one of its kind in Europe, will offer students a fully immersive experience – a state of the art learning hub that will combine academics and creativity with the power of doing. We have had considerable discussion on the need to educate our students for 21st Century skills. These discussions have emphasized the importance of cultivating interdisciplinary themes that create greater global awareness. Creativity

and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, must be integrated into core subject matter across all ages. My aim is quite simply to transform not only how we teach but what we teach across the board. I expect these new spaces, for elementary and secondary students, to incorporate automation, robotics, material sciences, film and media, information technology, and food science all centered on the concept of design and innovative thinking.

Quite simply, this is because facilities matter if you want an excellent academic and extracurricular program. Together, we are creating spaces for our students to think, read, play, and practice, but above all to experiment so that they can be better inspired to lead new generations in an increasingly complicated future. Our mission is to prepare, engage and inspire – our steps have been strategically taken to fulfil such aspirations. Regards,

So much is happening and we are spending a significant part of our financial reserves with no expectation to expand the school greatly with regards to student enrolment.

Robert Brindley AISB Director

AISB is investing 6.5 million Euros in an Early Learning Center dedicated to preschool children The American International School of Bucharest is investing 6.5 million Euros in an Early Learning Center dedicated to preschool children between two and five years old, announced Robert Brindley, the Director of the institution. The capacity of the campus will be of 190 children and for the 2017-2018 school year, AISB estimates that 100 children aged 2-5 from 40 nationalities will inaugurate the building. Presently, AISB educates around 100 children aged between 2 and 5 years old from 39 different countries. The new early education center is being built on an area of 3,800 square meters and will be equipped with facilities to match the needs of the youngest students of this educational establishment. The center will have 20 classrooms for educational activities (without taking into account the administrative spaces) and it will be ready in the summer of 2017. In addition to the classrooms, the center will have: interior gardens, a specialized library, common work spaces, a music and movement room, a medical office, gym, kitchen and canteen for the little

ones, nature ateliers connected to each classroom, spaces for changing children as well as rest areas, a digital atelier, and outdoor play areas. “Building a center destined exclusively to our youngest students was necessary to adapt the learning environment to their needs. We are aware that this center will be their first experience in an education institution and that’s why we want to provide them a dynamic environment, where we combine games and learning,” said Robert Brindley, AISB Director. The American International School of Bucharest (AISB) began the 2016-2017 school year with 810 students, 242 of whom are in High School. The students

come from 56 countries, the top 5 represented being Romania (32%), USA (13%), Israel (5%), Germany (4%), and Turkey (4%). For the 2016-2017 academic year, AISB saw revenues of 16 million euros, similar to the values of the year previous. Investments of minimum 500,000 Euros are made over the summer holiday annually, with last year’s investments amounting to 1 million euros. AISB is the oldest and largest International school in Bucharest, founded in 1962 by the American Embassy and currently situated on a 10-hectare campus built in 2001.



Alexandru Cristescu / Association President

How Does the AISB Alumni Association Function?


The AISB Alumni Association is actively involved in the effort of our community of global citizens to provide value that is sustainably created. I have been running our Association for over a year now and during this time we have defined our goal and strategy with the aim to better our community by satisfying the needs of our interest holders: 1. 2.

3. 4.

ALUMNI need to reconnect, be involved in their community and find new opportunities.

CURRENT STUDENTS & PARENTS want to find guidance, inspiration and assurance for their future actions.

AISB needs to improve the community and become a leader in education. THE ALUMNI TEAM volunteer their time to grow as individuals and become respected members of our community.

We have aligned these interests and transformed the AISB Alumni Association into an educational partner that works side by side with our community. Currently there are four main branches to our activities: 1.

EVENTS carried out by alumni which are hosted at AISB for 10th, 11th, and 12th Graders as well as the parents of Grade 12 students. These are designed to offer a more complete image of life after graduation while supporting students with course selection, university search and application, and the practicalities of university life.


REUNIONS hosted abroad and in Romania, their purpose being for us to reunite under a social setting whilst facilitating networking amongst alumni.





WORLD ALUMNI MAGAZINE is a bi-annual publication, which since October 2016 has been issued ISSN codes and is catalogued by the Romanian National Library. The content promotes our community and at the same time is a potential source for education.

AISBCONNECT.COM & SOCIAL MEDIA is our own exclusive network where only AISB alumni may sign up and interact, while our social media efforts present our community to an audience which has grown in the past year by more than 300%.

We focus on what we do best in order to satisfy the interests of all our parties while not overburdening our volunteers. Our team consists of over 40 people including Executives, Delegates who are spread on all the continents of the world, and School Liaisons. It is unique to have this type of global spread and reach. We will continue to grow and improve as long as all the individuals and organizations of our community are active partners of AISB. This fall we will celebrate the 5-year anniversary of our Alumni Association. I look forward to seeing many of you at our anniversary event to celebrate our success. Stay connected on to be the first to hear about the details of the event.

Alexandru Cristescu Association President

Interview with

Mark Phillips

US Active Duty Naval Officer AISB Alumnus, Class of 2009

WM: Tell us about your time spent at AISB. MP: I was fortunate to be at AISB from 2003-2007. During that time, I participated in the school swimming team, cross country team, and the Vampires newspaper.

WM: From the point of view of a person who has studied in Australia, Romania and the United States of America, what is the value of an international education? MP: I feel the benefit is being exposed to different cultures and traditions. Travelling and studying in foreign nations enhances perspective and allows the individual to learn about aspects of life they may not normally be exposed to.

WM: Is the international lifestyle with which you grew up something you would like to continue for yourself and your future family? Why or why not? MP: I fully plan to continue to have an international lifestyle, both personally and for my family. I very much enjoy living overseas, and I have a strong desire for my family, especially my children, to gain exposure to the world and hopefully attain fluency in a second language.

WM: Tell us a bit about your career. MP: I am in the United States Navy, commissioned as an Active Duty Naval Officer. I'm primarily a surface officer, which encompasses our fleet of ships and provides an emphasis on operating them. The specialty for our field is driving ships, along with managing everyday ship operations and upkeep. At the moment, I am the Assistant Operations Officer of Amphibious Squadron Three, where I oversee the operations of four amphibious ships.

WM: What advice would you give to a young person who would like to pursue a military career? MP: I would highly recommend taking full advantage of any educational opportunities offered by your military service! I was fortunate to attend university prior to my commission, which is required to become an officer in our Navy. Continuing your education both before and after joining the service will help advancement and job options in the military.

WM: What are some of your best memories of AISB and Romania? MP: I was able to travel with the crosscountry team and the swimming team while at AISB to compete in other countries. These opportunities to travel with the team to other nations and compete were fantastic. The school would pair us with local families of the host nation, and being able to interact with these families was a magnificent opportunity.

WM: If you could visit Romania and AISB for a day what would you do? MP: I would enjoy attending the opera again - the performances were always fantastic! At AISB, I would enjoy visiting some of my old classrooms and seeing all the changes the school has likely gone through over the past decade.

WM: What are your plans for the future? MP: I'll be stationed in San Diego until 2018, when I'll likely move to Virginia to attend some Naval training and education. Beyond that, I hope to earn my MBA - as soon as my career allows. Being in the service, you're never entirely certain where you'll wind up... you can only hope for the best!



Biggest international school in Romania invests 2 million Euros in new tech center The American International School of Bucharest (AISB), the oldest and biggest international school in Romania, plans to invest some 2 million Euros in developing a new technology center, in the 2017/2018 school year.

The AISB design & technology center aims to offer students a fully immersive experience by combining traditional learning with modern design processes, allowing students to explore, innovate, and experiment. “One of its kind in Europe, this will be a state of the art learning hub that will combine academics and creativity with the power of doing,” according to AISB representatives. The center project will span over 2,500 sqm, which include some existing facilities that will be reconverted as well as new facilities. The school aims to raise EUR 500,000 from donations to cover part of the costs. AISB has invested EUR 7 million in the school year 2016/2017, EUR 6.5 million of


which went into developing a new early education center for children between two and five. The school has also invested EUR 0.5 million in modernizing and equipping classrooms with the latest technology, in revamping the physics lab and the new library. “The money from tuition fees is permanently for investments in increasing the quality of the educational process. We aim to offer AISB students the best learning conditions,” said AISB Director Dr. Robert Brindley. AISB had revenues of EUR 16.5 million in the 2016 financial year, EUR 13 million of which came from tuition fees. Most of the money goes to the school staff’s salaries and benefits, namely some EUR 10.5 million in 2016. The school has a team of 222 people of 16 nationalities,


including 42 Americans, 22 Romanians, and 17 Brits. AISB has 823 students in the 2016/2017 school year, 169 of whom enrolled in the last 12 months. The students come from 56 countries, with 30% of them being Romanians, 15% Americans, 5% Turks, 5% Israeli, and 4% German. The demand for enrollments is about 20% higher for the 2017/2018 school year, most of it coming from Romanians. The school’s rules don’t allow it to accept more than 30% of students of a single nationality in each class, so the school can only receive about 5% of the eligible candidates. “Most requests come from Romanian families. We have about 50 such requests each year,” says Catalina Gardescu, Admissions & External Relations Manager AISB.

The number of Romanians who return from abroad to take managerial positions in local companies has also increased in recent years, as some multinationals prefer to repatriate Romanians instead of bringing expats to run their local subsidiaries, according to Catalina Gardescu. In their case, the company usually pays for the children’s tuition. However, most of the Romanians who want to enroll their children at AISB are wealthy locals who are willing to pay the tuition fees themselves. The AISB students are aged 2 to 18 and the tuition fees vary from EUR 6,868 to EUR 20,080, depending on age. Republished with permission from

A CALL TO OUR ALUMNI COMMUNITY STEP INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY – The Campaign for AISB's Design & Engineering Center, is a great opportunity to show that our community can join forces and partner up to create something truly remarkable. The goal is to build a state of the art space where students have the opportunity to discover and satisfy their curiosities. With a non-linear method of learning focused towards innovation and creativity, students enter a continuous cycle of experimentation, creation, presentation and improvement. This type of non-standard education is key for the future and we are very fortunate to have Dr. Brindley steering AISB on this path.

"We are educating tomorrow's leaders. As such, we must nurture principled, openminded, caring, risk-takers who are balanced and reflective. They will lead through respectful discourse, building conduits across

cultures and finding creative solutions to barriers."

Dr. Robert Brindley, AISB Director Besides excellent academic preparation, our students will have to be innovative and creative in order to achieve their full potential in the future and compete against the very best. The world is growing, technology is advancing fast, ideas and ideals are overlapping and many issues are arising. This means that with the right individuals, the solutions of the future will be generated though the kind of collaboration that also unlocks value for all parties. Education must change as knowledge and skills will become insufficient; mentality will separate the good from the great. I firmly believe that AISB's Design & Engineering Center will shape valuable individuals for the international community because it focuses on the nurturing and stimulation of creativity in a cross disciplinary environment with low barriers to discovery. To the members of our alumni community, I urge you all to support this Center and contribute in any way

you can and see fit. Contribute with ideas, ask how you can be involved and be part of something truly unique that will set AISB apart from other schools in the region and benefit generations of students to come. Do something extraordinary and donate now. Every contribution counts. Sincerely, Alex Cristescu Association President Find out more by scanning the QR code below.

Become part of our students’ futures by supporting our Step Into The EXTRAORDINARY campaign, which aims to raise 500,000 euros for the completion of the AISB Design & Engineering Center, representing the beginning of a new and exciting adventure. AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST 11

Interview with

Eduardo Yrezabal Representative in Romania of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The American International School of Bucharest (AISB) as well as the AISB Alumni Association do not discuss political issues but the current refugee crisis is an issue facing the international community. Therefore, we felt that it is important to publish an interview on this matter. To this extent we have interviewed the Representative in Romania of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Eduardo Yrezabal.


WM: Today, the international community, is facing a refugee crisis. Could you please elaborate on the extent of this issue? EY: Refugee crises are not new. Probably what is new is the high visibility that few refugee crises have in the news, in particular the Syrian refugee crisis. This is motivated by the number of people that arrived in Europe during 2015 and 2016. Other more distant crises such as Nigeria, Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia or Yemen do not feature so prominently in the news, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. The sad reality is that there are more than 60 million people in the world who are forcibly displaced from their homes. More than 21 million of them are refugees. Refugees are persons who are compelled to leave their countries owing to persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership to a particular social group. They can also be persons who have left their countries unwillingly owing to war, generalized violence and conflict or other serious violations of human rights. The big tragedy of refugees is that they cannot return to their countries without a serious risk to their lives and security.

WM: What is the role of the UNHCR in this matter? EY: The UNHCR is the agency of the United Nations Organization that is mandated to assist governments and the civil society to offer protection to refugees and find durable solutions to their situation. This mandate stems from a Resolution approved in 1950 by the General Assembly of the United Nations that created the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and from the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees that provides the international legal framework that States must follow to protect refugees.

WM: How is Romania helping out in this situation? EY: Romania is party to the 1951 Geneva Convention and has assumed its obligations to protect refugees. Romania has adopted legislation and a procedure to conduct refugee status determination and grants all the rights foreseen in the 1951 Geneva Convention to persons recognized as refugees. Romania is also contributing to international solidarity efforts offering the possibility of resettlement to refugees that are in first countries of asylum in which, owing to the difficult situation of those countries, refugees cannot find the protection that they need.

WM: We are talking here about the lives of people, what are their expectations? EY: What refugees want is to have a normal life: Identity documents, work, access to education and to be self-reliant; to be able to take care of themselves and their families. I remember a conversation I had with a young refugee from Afghanistan approximately one year ago. When I asked him how he would like to see himself in one year time, he told me “I want to be a tax payer”. I told him that most people hate to pay taxes. He replied, “If I had to pay taxes that would mean that I have income, and having an income would mean that I would be in a position to take care of my family without having to be assisted by the government or humanitarian organizations”.

WM: What are the solutions and what is the end goal? EY: The most desirable solution would be that conflicts, persecution and violations of human rights end, and that refugees could return to their countries and homes in safety and dignity. Unfortunately, that is not in our hands. It requires political commitment and actions, and we, the organizations working with refugees, are humanitarian organizations and not political actors. While we all wait for that

to happen, refugees need to have a dignified life in the countries hosting them. The UNHCR started a campaign in 2016 which is known as the #WithRefugees Campaign. We ask people to sign petitions asking for 3 very concrete things: 1. Every refugee child gets an education, because 50 percent of the refugees in the world are children; 2. Every refugee family has somewhere safe to live; and 3. Every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community. These things are basic pillars of what it is known as “integration,” and integration needs the active involvement of governments, civil society and refugees themselves. States have the legal obligation to offer meaningful protection to refugees, but States are not to be understood solely as the authorities or the rulers of countries. The State is also the people, the sovereign people of a country.

WM: How can individuals or organizations help the effort to better the situation? EY: Private individuals and private entities can help in many ways. The most important one is enabling a positive attitude towards


Photo Credit:

refugees. Refugees are not a threat. They are the victims of persecution and human rights violations. Once this is understood, refugees will be able to receive from the population of the host countries the same treatment as the rest of the population. It is not about giving refugees privileges, it is about giving them equal opportunities. This can only be achieved by the people, by the community, by employers. It is about not discriminating against refugees when they seek jobs, when they want to rent an apartment, or when they want their children

to have an education. Help them not to feel second like class persons or a heavy burden to the society. In summary, as that young Afghan refugee once told me, help them to become tax payers.

WM: How can people, organizations or corporations help? Who can they contact or what programs are available? EY: In Romania, the Government, and more concretely the General Inspectorate for Immigration (GII)


is coordinating the integration efforts through its Asylum and Integration Directorate. GII works with a number of NGOs that are implementing projects on housing, language training, access to the labor market, and many other similar issues. These organizations would be happy to have the cooperation of private individuals and private entities that are willing to offer support in the form of job opportunities or finding private accommodation at affordable prices for refugee families. But again, I want to repeat, the most urgent thing is to


Directia Azil si Integrare / Directorate for Asylum and Integration

contribute to the creation of a positive attitude towards refuges. This is the key to many other things. Do you have opportunities for refugees in Romania? Please refer to the list below with the contact details of several NGOs providing assistance and counselling to asylum-seekers/refugees. These contacts can assist with further disseminating the information to beneficiaries and act as liaisons to which job offers can be referred.


AIDRom - Asociaţia Ecumenică a Bisericilor din România / Ecumenical Association of Churches in Romania

Str. Ilarie Chendi, Nr. 14 Sector 2, Bucuresti

Tel. : + Fax: + E-mail:

CNRR – Consiliul National Roman pentru Refugiati / Romanian National Council for Refugees

Strada Viesparilor Nr. 19 Etajul 2, Sector 2, București

Tel.: +4 021 312 62 10 Fax.: +4 031 405 02 75 E-mail:

IOM Romania

Strada Viitorului, Nr.11 București

Tel: +40 21 - 210.30.50 Fax: +40 21 - 211.44.54 E-mail:

JRS Romania

Strada Maior Opriș Ilie Nr. 54 București

Telefon:; ; 0732.129.238 Fax: 0372.877.090 E-mail:


A few questions on the career of a diplomat WM: You are a seasoned diplomat and have many years of experience. What attracted you to this career? EY: I prefer to be called an “international civil servant of the United Nations”. “Diplomat” sounds very formal. Although it is true that my job entails plenty of humanitarian diplomacy. I started my professional life as a young lawyer

working in the private sector in my country, Spain. Later, I entered in contact with some NGOs that were offering “pro bono” legal assistance to asylum-seekers, so I began cooperating with them. First I did it during my free time, but little by little I became more and more involved until I made it full time. That meant having to quit my previous job, but what I lost in salary, I won in personal satisfaction with what I was doing. I started working with UNHCR almost 24 years ago, and I have been posted in eight different countries in four different continents. What attracted me to the path I chose is the possibility to humbly contribute to make a change for the better in the lives of persons in need of desperate help because

they have lost everything except their dignity as human beings.

WM: What path should a young student take to have an international career in diplomacy? EY: Law, Political Science, and International Relations are the usual backgrounds. However, if you want to work in the humanitarian field as I do, we need also experts in finance, journalists, experts in procurement, logistics, epidemiology… there are so many fields to cover!

WM: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a career in international diplomacy?

EY: The advantages are personal satisfaction with what you are doing, and the fact that you get to know people, countries, societies and many cultures that otherwise you would know only through reading or watching documentaries on TV. There are disadvantages too. This work requires a lot of mobility. Today I live in Bucharest. Only one year ago I was living in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and before that In Geneva, from where I arrived from Ankara… And so on. It is difficult to reconcile family life with mobility, and it is sad to say good-bye to the friends you make in different countries. However, with the great possibilities that technology gives nowadays for connectivity, it not difficult to keep in contact.

HISTORY OF UNHCR The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. We had three years to complete our work and then disband. Today, over 66 years later, our organization is still hard at work, protecting and assisting refugees around the world. With your support, we can continue. © UNHCR / B. Sokol


Interview with

Rod Lamirand

AISB Teacher between 2008 - 2011

“We flew to a job fair where the American

School of Bucharest won out over three other schools and we signed up for what would be the best teaching experiences of our lives.”


WM: Tell us about your journey into teaching RL: The first, in known family history, to graduate high school, I followed this great feat with a half-decade of itinerant restaurant jobs whilst searching for the meaning of life. Finding everything and nothing in Solzhenitsyn, Hemmingway, Nietzsche, Hess and every other author, novelist or philosopher I could find, I eventually entered university at age 26. I didn’t care about grades but loved it when my philosophy professor asked if “an orange is still an orange, if it is not orange”. Navel gazing introspection aside, I graduated with a degree in English Literature and the knowledge that a Bachelor of Arts was a rather pedestrian achievement after all. Teaching certificate in hand, beautiful wife with child, I climbed into Canadian public education where I discovered the joys and disappointments of the classroom, the staffroom, and parent-teacher meetings.

WM: How did you take the leap from the public education system into international teaching? RL: The big 40 arrived and I only knew one thing – it was time for change. We took up running. My two kids laughed at my red face after my first nine-minute jog. We sold the rancher, got rid of everything and moved to the Middle East to teach at our first international school. Except it wasn’t an international school. It was a for-profit, national school run like a 1950’s private school. Thankfully we had not quit our Canadian teaching job so returned to the fold relieved but still restless. Two years later we were an hour south of Taipei in the lush greens and typhoon winds of Taiwan where we discovered that, in some ways, South East Asia is

everything: fast, warm, fun, different and exciting to name the most positive. If you haven’t tried stinky tofu or durian fruit you’re in for an experience. A year and a half later we sweet talked our way out of the contract, bought an RV and spent 154 consecutive days travelling in a giant counter-clockwise circle around the United States and Canada with our children and a dachshund we brought back from Taiwan.

WM: How did you end up at AISB? RL: Over the next two years our daughter in high school and son in elementary, we thought our overseas teaching was over until goddess Wanderlust frequented our dreams whispering of unseen lands. We flew to a job fair where the American School of Bucharest won out over three other schools and we signed up for what would be the best teaching experiences of our lives.

WM: Can you tell us a bit more about your experience at AISB? RL: Three years at AISB impacted our lives forever. It was a busy, sometimes difficult, usually fun, exhilarating experience which I suspect I will never have again. With some confidence, I can say that AISB, during the time we were there, was an ideal. It was, and perhaps still is, a collection of hard working and fun loving teachers from around the world teaching amazing students from over a hundred countries, including many great young people from Romania, with huge help and friendship from Romanian staff. I tip my hat to them all. Do I idealize? Is this the gloss of melancholy? Perhaps. Still, it was a vibrant community which I will never forget.

WM: Where did life take you next? RL: Of course, change is life, so we left. We moved to Jakarta for new jobs and experiences. Our tropical year there came to an end for the opportunity to get our son in a top-notch program back in Canada. However, when Canadian winters blow cold and gloomy, verdant hues and sky blues of Indonesia flood back and I long to return to the sounds and smells of South East Asia. I can’t see the future but I will return - just as I will again return to the beach of Mamaia and the bucolic towns and villages nestled in the shadow of the Transylvanian Alps.

WM: What about writing? Did you always dream of being an author? RL: All this time, my life’s goal of writing a novel lay dormant, occasionally nagging at me. I returned to Canada determined to make the leap from teacher to writer and with the unwavering support from my amazing wife I have it. With the exception of a year in the soaring mountains and deep lakes of Northern British Columbia, where I went to work as teacher/principal to replenish our accounts and discovered another, equally vibrant world, I now spend my days in the biggest challenge yet – writing something worth reading. I’ve written all my life. Through the 90’s I wrote for a number of magazines, supplementing my teaching income and learning more about putting words together. However, the penultimate literary goal, which I believe is authoring a good book - is a higher mountain, a steeper climb than it looks – and is littered with failed manuscripts and broken dreams.

WM: What has been your biggest challenge as author so far? RL: My first book, The Eyes of the Arab Boy, received no interest from agents or publishers, most do not even reply. In fact, the hordes of would-be authors so overwhelm the shrinking publishing industry that they only survive by shuttering their doors and painting them to look like shrubbery. Thus, I join the multitudes in self-publishing my first book even when the rising tide of poor-quality eBooks is a sea of flotsam potential readers rightfully can’t and don’t trust.

WM: Can you tell us a bit about your second book? RL: Esc4pe Jakarta is a Young Adult novel very different from The Eyes of the Arab Boy. That book was written for adults and is based upon our experiences in the Middle East. The new novel is an adventure story about a 15-year-old Canadian boy at an Indonesian international school when war breaks out. He, his sister, and his girl friend must avoid arrest completely on their own except for the help of some Muslim friends. What ensues is an amazing adventure through the tropical landscape and foreign culture of Java. I’ll give AISB Alumni a teaser for my newest novel Esca4pe Jakarta which arrives in the fall of 2017.

Suddenly planes start falling out of the sky. Sometimes they blow up, sometimes they crash. No-one knows why. Some say it is hacker terrorists. Others blame 3D-printed, home-made rockets cheaper than a new bicycle. Most media say it began with an American/ Israeli plan to destroy Middle Eastern nuclear weapons, ending with mini-nuke detonations over Iranian cities,


fistfights on the floor of the United Nations and sleeper terrorist cells bombing cities in the West. Online the Englishspeaking Internet blames China and North Korea for the renewed Korean war. After five days of worldwide disaster including 57 downed planes, 34 of which are commercial passenger flights, three quarters of the world’s flights are cancelled, militaries everywhere are marshalling, and protesters fill the streets of every capital. By the seventh day most airports in South East Asia are closed, trapping tens of thousands of expatriates. Overnight a new military government in Indonesia takes the US and Australian embassies hostage and shuts down television and radio stations. Average peaceful Indonesian protesters take to the streets only to find curfews and soldiers locking down the capital city of Jakarta resulting in mass riots. An anti-Muslim, off-air comment by the American president, broadcast live at the same moment someone shoots and kills the Pope in Vatican City inflames religious/ cultural/national angers and fears already raging out of control. By day 10, the world’s economies have crashed, most of the internet is down, and every single government on the planet is advising its citizens to return to their home country. But how?

As for publishing, I will again court agents and publishers but this time I am targeting parents and teachers by writing an exciting adventure story but one which deals with thought provoking situations. For example, the protagonist is a Grade 10 Christian boy while his girlfriend is a Grade 10 Muslim girl. What is that relationship like? What do they talk about? Can they, should they, be together? Are their parents right? Another issue in the novel asks the question: when does a boy

become a man? When does a girl become a woman? Do those sentences even make sense any more or are they cultural and patriarchal legacy attitudes? Of course, these questions are to be explored but they are not overtly discussed in the book. The novel is written for 12 and over and thus, focusses on action and fun, friends and family. Still, there are larger socio-cultural aspects which parents or teachers could explore if they desired. In the end, I suspect I might have to self-publish initially which is perfectly fine. I’m in for the long haul.

WM: So, what keeps this dream ignited? RL: If your eyes still follow, here is a small reward – imagine an old fool with not a lot of money turning his back on one hundred thousand a year to get up each day and face the tyranny of the blank page, at a time when average attention spans are measured in seconds and CG-aided, visual extravaganzas, with world-destroying plotlines, run to empty cinemas because the public is inundated with choice and inured to novelty. Further imagine that fool has a wife and children who can’t help but watch and wonder. But all I’ll say, here and now, is this: sometimes it’s enough to leap. Sometimes it’s enough to leap, whatever the consequences. Rodism #26: Nothing is promised, but barren stands the unopened door. So, here I sit, my second novel nearing completion. The future unclear. Success statistically unlikely, yet determined still. And anyway, if it doesn’t pan out, my old friend Change will turn up and I’ll see Bali and Bucharest again.

WM: What advice would you give to those of your former students who are aspiring writers?

RL: I would suggest they get started early, work hard, keep their core strength (hours and hours in concentrated focus and physical stillness is hard on the back), know they are worthy, and keep the day job. The written word will never die. However, reading, may already be going the way of crocheting. Sadly, our screen filled lives and always on apps seem to be turning books into decorating paraphernalia. I fear few have the patience to wade into a fictional world of wonder, broadcast through twentysix simple shapes. Image this magazine was devoid of colour or image. Who would read it? However, on a more positive note. If novels are less important, good writing is critical. If you can pull thoughts and opinions into a logical discourse and present them in some sprightly syntax, maybe throw in arch connotation or highbrow innuendo then, well, you will work. You will have a job. You will likely have a great job – so long as you’re not providing powerful prose to protolyze repugnant philosophies! Lastly, I would advise aspiring writers to avoid sentences with fancy-pants vocabulary like you’ve just read. Read a little Hemmingway to see the power of simple words.

THE EYES OF THE ARAB BOY Stash and Anna... a Canadian couple in their first overseas teaching jobs, are in danger of imprisonment and flogging when their attempts to ‘spice it up’ are witnessed by a Muslim neighbour. Things go from alarming to heart pounding when the Omani police, investigating expatriate teachers in relation to computer crime, find blasphemy and illicit images on their computer. Charged with crimes against Sharia law they must escape the country and hold on to their marriage... BUY NOW - visit WWW.RODLAMIRAND.COM

WM: What about life advice in general? RL: I think, almost all life advice is suspect, self-evident or wrong. However, since you’ve asked I will offer three more Rodisms (aka aphorisms by Rod). The first is #26 which is above. The others are: #3. Either you run your life or your life runs you. #2. Sometimes you have to go a long way to travel a short distance. #10. It’s not that others can and you can’t but that others do and you don’t.

ESCA4PE JAKARTA This isn’t Canada anymore! Fifteenyear-old Spencer must grow up quickly when war breaks out around him in the tropical country of Indonesia. Without their parents help, Spencer and his 11-year-old sister find themselves running from arrest, stealing, and avoiding wild animals in this adventure of a lifetime. Escaping Jakarta with the help their Muslim friends, Spencer comes face to face with his own prejudice and must discover if his father is wrong, if his young heart is true, and if he can save not only himself but his whole family. Spencer knows every boy becomes a man but what kind of man will he become? WWW.RODLAMIRAND.COM


Vik Salic & Jan van Groningen Interview with

Vik Salic and Jan van Groningen both graduated from AISB in 2008. They have now joined forces to pursue a new project: Fish House. Find out more in this interview! WM: Vik, Jan, tell us a bit about your journeys postAISB. JvG: After High School, I pursued a 3-year BA in New Business from Nyenrode New Business School in Amsterdam. I later gained another BA, this time in Business Management from the University of Westminster in London. At University I was part of the Rowing Team and I also worked different part time jobs in the hospitality industry. VS: I gained a BSc in Management from Warwick Business School in the UK, following a 3-year program. I then started a brokerage marketing company in Serbia after training in Romania and I worked on that project for almost 2 years. After that, I worked as a consultant and business developer for different marketing and brokerage companies, travelling between

many countries for 3 and a half years including, notably, countries all over Europe, Mexico, Russia, and India.

the atmosphere. It is a practical business so every change shows the real value of our efforts.

WM: What brought you back to Romania? JvG & VS: We never truly left Romania. You can’t leave something that is such a big part of you. We grew up here, had most of our important experiences here, and our family and friends are here. If we’d have to put a finger on it though, the quality of life, the people, and the opportunity to help the country develop as it helped us become who we are, are prominent factors for us. The school life we had here is something that nobody we met in our travels and universities could compare to. WM: What sparked the change from business to restaurant? JvG & VS: The restaurant is still a business, the only difference is that you can see the instant gratification of the clients when they are enjoying their food and

On top of this, for Vik at least, it was always a dream to open a restaurant. Another important factor is that we are able to partner up with Chef Zoran Savic. He’s been in the restaurant business for more than 15 years. We learn a lot from him every day, and the passion and vision he has is extremely motivating. WM: Tell us about the Fish House concept. JvG & VS: Fish House is the brain-child of our friend and partner, Zoran Savic. We want to be the best fish and seafood restaurant in town and serve the highest quality dishes that change with the seasons as well as with inspiration. The aim is a relaxed atmosphere which doesn’t compromise on quality of food or service. In the immediate plan we developed the new summer menu which is a fresh blend of seasonal dishes and specialties. We also worked very hard to build the terrace which is now open, just

in time for the great weather coming up! For the future, we have many ideas but these are still in the planning phase. WM: You’ve been friends since high school – what’s it like working with your best friend? JvG & VS: We were always good at being honest with each other, this of course leading to many arguments and fights. Communication is the way to resolve issues; keeping things hidden leads to passive aggressiveness. Better say what you think and resolve the issue, make peace and move on. In business we find this approach imperative for success. So far it has been working but we are well aware of the dangers of doing business with friends. The key for us seems to be that we know each other so well that we can sense immediately when something is wrong and we won’t let it go unresolved.

Stay tuned for more of this story coming up in the Fall issue of the AISB Alumni WORLD Magazine!


Interview with

Andrei Harnagea AISB Alumnus, Class of 2007

WM: Tell us a bit about yourself. AH: I was born and raised in Bucharest and attended AISB starting with 6th grade. I attended AISB, like most kids, because of my parents’ wish for me to get the best education available. I can’t say it was much of a choice for me back then, it was their initiative, and I appreciate the courage and risk they took to this very day. At the moment, I work for Oracle as part of a small multimedia team that produces videos, infographics, animations and other interactive media.

WM: Why did you choose to pursue your University studies in the US? AH: I knew early on I wanted to go to the US. I wanted to go as far away from home as possible. I had this feeling that I just wanted to break away from everything and start a new life. New people, new friends. It’s a feeling that has, in many ways, returned throughout my life.

WM: Why did you choose the university you went to? Was there someone or something that influenced your decision? AH: This is actually something I think about every few months. The short answer is yes, there were two people who influenced this decision heavily and without whom I would have probably ended up somewhere else. I was fortunate to have been accepted to all the colleges I applied to. I initially wanted to choose between Parsons, School of Visual Arts in New York or RIT. The first key person who helped my decision was Vlad Paunescu, the owner


of Castel Film, and the second was Zoran Perisic, an old friend of Vlad’s with a long career in Film and Special Effects. Even though I never met Zoran to this very day, he was the one who told me to go to CCA in San Francisco. And I took his advice. Blindly. I wrote to Zoran a couple of years ago to thank him and tell him how I was doing. I was quite frank with him, told him how we maybe conversed two or three times through e-mail and we never met. But he changed my life. He chose this path for me and for that I will always be grateful.

WM: What did you major in? Was that what you initially intended to do? AH: I got my BFA in Animation which is in fact what I wanted to do from the very beginning.

WM: What was your experience in the US like overall and why did you decide to come back to Romania? AH: I had a very romanticized image of the US before going there. The first 6 months were hard. Very hard. Nothing was familiar and it felt like you had to re-learn how to live life. The rules completely changed. Everything changed. I came back to Romania after getting the chance to work for the European Space Agency and the Rosetta Mission. I sort of fell in love with Europe again. I wanted something different. I felt like starting over.

WM: What are some aspects you liked about the US and what did you find challenging?

AH: The thing I miss most about the US, hands down, are the people. They were the most open, creative and driven group of individuals I ever got to work with. People who did things out of pure passion, not for money or for fame, but just because they loved what they do. I miss that every day. I can’t say that many things come to mind in terms of bad experiences. The crime in some parts of the US is actually pretty bad. Armed robberies were quite an ordinary thing around our campuses.

WM: How did your experience there affect the way you see things now? AH: I could probably go on for hours talking about this. To be as brief as I can... my experience in the US made me more aware, more patient, better at spotting trends... at understanding people. The more you travel and the more unique memories you get to experience, the more you will discover, about the world and about yourself.

WM: How has your university helped you in your career? Was it easy? AH: Yes and no. If you think that by just having a degree and attending a good university you will get a good job or you’ll be put on a path to a career directly then you’re probably as naïve as I was at the beginning. And that’s okay, you’re still young. Reality however, is much harsher and much more competitive. One thing University will prepare you with is how to teach yourself anything. That is the most useful skill you can have. College gave me a foundation, but what you build on top of that foundation is totally up to you.


Interview with

Nathalie Notarianni WM: Nathalie, tell us a bit about yourself. NN: As a dependent of a Department of Defense employee, I had the unique opportunity of growing up overseas in amazing, culturally-rich countries. I consider the Marshall Islands my home, which is where I was born and spent my childhood before my family and I began travelling the world. After leaving the islands, we moved to the Netherlands for a couple of years, followed by Belgium and Italy. I finished my last two years of high school in Romania at AISB. The move from Italy to Romania was

the most difficult for me because we expected that I would be able to finish high school in Rome, a place I had grown to love so much. However, Romania, and AISB in particular, welcomed my family and me with open arms, and I was lucky to spend my last two years in Europe there before moving to the United States to attend Clark University in Massachusetts. I graduated from Clark in May 2016 and found a job later that summer as a paralegal at an immigration law firm just outside of Boston, which is where I work now.


AISB Alumna, Class of 2013

WM: What advantages as well as challenges did you find growing up as a third culture kid? NN: Being mixed with Marshallese, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian genes while living in various countries certainly made it difficult to identify with one place or culture, but it did so in the best way possible. As every third culture kid knows, the easy conversation starter of “where are you from?” is not nearly as simple to answer. For this reason, AISB was a great fit for me, because oftentimes my peers shared similar experiences, and we shared a

mutual understanding of and tolerance for each person’s unique upbringing. While it was difficult to socially adjust to each place, I am so lucky to have met such wonderful, interesting people along the way.

WM: How did you become interested in Political Science? NN: My interest in Political Science, with a focus on International Relations, grew out of a variety of factors. While growing up in multiple countries, I found the beauty in each place and deeply

appreciated what each had to offer. However, I never really developed a cohesive understanding of all of the countries, or had something to tie them together in my head, since each one had its own unique character. As I grew older and paid more attention to current events, I realized the importance of international relations for bringing countries together to put aside their differences and work toward common goals. Further, throughout my teenage years, I was able to work my summer jobs at the U.S. Embassy. On a daily basis, I was exposed to high levels of American diplomacy, and I witnessed firsthand the diligence, intelligence, and devotion of federal employees who strived to be the best possible representatives of the U.S. and affect positive change in American foreign policy, which something that I quickly realized I wanted to be a part of someday.

WM: You are a notable Alumna at Clark University, receiving a Presidential Scholarship as well as a place on the Dean’s list for your academic achievements. Congratulations! You were also acknowledged for a project you concluded on women in federal government. Can you tell us a little bit more about this project? NN: During the summer between my second and third year of college, I applied for and received funding from Clark University’s LEEP Program to pursue a selfdirected research project. The aim of the research was to develop an understanding of the demographics in U.S. federal agencies, the prospect of women and minorities’ advancement within the field, and the ways in which the federal government promotes success of these groups. My personal interest in such a career as well as my diverse background sparked

inspiration for the project, and I was able to simultaneously conduct research on the topic while participating in an internship with the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. The academic research combined with the hands-on internship made the project a truly comprehensive and special experience.

WM: How did your studies at AISB support your decision to follow this career path and how did AISB prepare you for your experiences at University and in the workplace? NN: As an AISB student, I was well-prepared for University and for pursuing my career interests. As any AISB student knows, the IB Program is intensive, time-consuming, and challenging. After high school, these academic and work commitments become even more challenging, and it is essential to not only feel prepared but to also be confident when pursuing these endeavors. Fortunately, the intensive academic experience that I had at AISB helped pave the way for the incredible experiences that followed after high school. I felt confident to pursue classes, projects, presentations, and even an internship that I thought I were out of my reach but I knew I would be able to handle and succeed in because I was well prepared to do so.

WM: What programs at AISB did you feel resonated with you best as a learner and contributor to your University studies? NN: At AISB, I took IB Visual Arts Higher Level, which was my favorite course but was also by far the most challenging course for me. It resonated best with me as a learner because my

teacher and the curriculum itself pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and put my thoughts on display which, as a natural introvert, is something I often hesitate to do. It became a welcome challenge for me during my two years at AISB, and although receiving a top final mark was an important goal for me, it was even more important for me to overcome my resignations and develop the confidence I needed to think outside of the box and create pieces that spoke without using words. I wish I had continued to pursue art after high school, but the course and the experience I took away from it continued to contribute to my achievements in University and employment.

WM: What advice can you offer to current AISB students who are ready to choose their University major? NN: Be open-minded. At 18 or 19, it may seem like you already know what you are meant to do in life, but in reality there is so much more to discover and experience. Keep an open mind and welcome change. Step outside of your comfort zone and push yourself to try new things, and you may very well come across a new, unexpected hobby or passion.

WM: You graduated from Clark University in 2016. What are you doing now? Can you tell us a little bit about your work? NN: My IB exam scores allowed me to skip a year at Clark University, so after three years I received my B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Asian Studies. That summer, I landed an offer for a paralegal position at Pabian Law, an immigration law firm based outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Our clients

are corporations, professional sports teams, and seasonal businesses that need visas for their employees who come from outside of the United States. I assist attorneys in acquiring the necessary evidence, information, and documentation to create and file visa petition applications with the U.S. government for our clients.

WM: What are your plans for the immediate future? What about the long-term? NN: I have only been working at my first full-time job for a few months at present, so I plan to stay with the firm for a couple of years before pursuing other endeavors. In the long-term, I plan to turn my focus toward federal government, especially in a field related to the internship I completed a couple of years ago with the U.S. Department of State. For me, an ideal long-term career would reflect the lifestyle I know and love, filled with opportunities to travel around the world.

WM: Your family is still in Bucharest – what do you miss most about living in Romania and about AISB in particular? NN: I certainly miss the travel opportunities that come with living in Eastern Europe. The cultures, people, cuisines, and landscapes are so beautiful, and there is a new adventure in each place you visit. Romania is very different from the other places I lived; I have a special place in my heart for it, and I hope I can return someday. Not having homework anymore is pretty great so I do not miss that aspect of being a student, however, I miss being surrounded by so many different cultures and interesting people on a daily basis, which is one of the wonderful features of AISB.


AISB Alumni Career Networking Day with Grade 10 Students


The Alumni Association organized another successful Career Networking Day at AISB for its Grade 10 students in the newly renovated Secondary School Library. The 10th graders were given the opportunity to chat with Alumni about their careers, engaging in discussions around Hospitality & Hotel Management,

Communications, IT, Medicine, Law & Real Estate, Economics & Finance, Dentistry, Business Development, and Entrepreneurship. The response for this event was fabulous, with students, alumni, and teachers alike commending alumni for their great preparation and insights. We are proud of the interaction of our alumni with the

future AISB graduates and would like to thank the team that put this event together: High School Counselors Oddny Bakke and Tim Battersby, Grade 10 Team Leader Misha Houriez, Alumni Coordinator Patricia Khalil, the supporting members of the AISB faculty and leadership team, and the AISB Alumni Executive Team.

Furthermore, a huge and heartfelt thank you to alumni Vlad Anghel, Maria Antip, Alex Calcan, Michelle Ciubuc, Alex Cristescu, Andreea Dinulescu, Dr. Nora Douedari, Radu Timis, and Maria Tudor for their commitment to the school and for the time they put in to making this event a true success!


we see no limit to what we can achieve with

THE AISB DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY CENTER “In the past twenty-five years the speed of discoveries in Science and Technology have been momentous. Today’s student and tomorrow’s professional must perform on a global field. Open and tolerant minds are connecting our cultural differences and are constructing bridges between people of all beliefs and nationalities. Art and

creative thinking set us apart from a culture of mass production. Education must adapt to the pace of progress. Our students must learn and retain pertinent multidisciplinary information today and acquire the skill-set of a lifelong learner able to adjust to an ever changing world” - Dr. Robert Brindley, AISB Director

our commitment to our students guides us in a


a giant leap to prepare our children to lead the future

Join us in the creation of The AISB Design & Engineering Center. This will be a uniquely designed, innovative space with a new way of teaching and learning, through a fully immersive experience. One of its kind in Europe, this will be a state of the art learning hub that will combine academics and creativity with the power of doing. Key features: A combination of traditional learning with modern design processes, in a completely non-linear mode. An opportunity for all AISB students ages 8 to 18, to explore, innovate and be intellectual risk-takers. A collective learning model and individual endeavor are the stars of our new approach.


The cultural integration of diverse subjects, together with interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches to learning. A push towards investigation, exploration, and experimenting; trial and error.


Interview with

Dr. Oana Taban WM: Please give us a quick introduction about yourself. OT: My name is Oana Taban, I am a dentist and I am married with two children who make me very proud – Maria, also a dentist, and Carol, a student at AISB. I am the founder of DENT ESTET, the Romanian dentistry market leader by revenue, team size, number of dental clinics and many other criteria. It isn’t easy to talk about yourself, especially if you consider your success a natural effect of hard work and dedication, rather than an objective that must be reached. Many times, the first things that appear at a glance into my mind when asked to talk about myself are the clinics, the team and the beautiful 18 years in which I have worked every day to build DENT ESTET and this medical team specialized to perform on all age groups: adults, children and teenagers. We have a team of 240 specialists who work in 9 clinics, and 86 of them are doctors. But the most important thing is that they all are devoted when it comes to offering the best services to our patients. I am happy that I’ve built something that can really bring a positive change into so many people’s lives. I don’t consider DENT ESTET a business because it is part of my family since… forever! It is our expression of passion for dentistry and for beautiful smiles… My team and the people surrounding me, including my two children, Maria and Carol, and also my husband, Cristian, are those who fueled my power to fulfill this dream over time and to create the leading group of dental clinics in


AISB Parent

Romania. And, when I look back to where I started, I see why it was worth all the effort.

WM: How did you decide to become a dentist and what steps did you take to make your dream come true? What University did you attend? OT: I attended the Mihai Viteazu High School, in Ploiesti, and I dreamt of becoming a doctor, when someone in my family, a succesful surgeon, advised me to choose dentistry – considering that it was more suitable for me. I prepared for the college exam for two years, focusing on Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I started dentistry at the University of Medicine, in Targu-Mures, moved to Bucharest and graduated in dentistry from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”. Attending and graduating from Dental school in Bucharest was a decision that I made myself and one which I am very proud of because I could never imagine myself in any other place than here.

WM: How has your path after finishing your university studies changed throughout the years? OT: After I graduated, I started working as an employed doctor, but there were so many things that I felt were limiting my perspective, that soon I began wishing to open my own dental office. It didn’t take too long until I made that first step, and not even that much longer until I managed to have a significant number of patients. The practice grew

quite quickly for that period and I started hiring doctors and assistants. Actually, we have many doctors that have been working with us for more than 10 years; for example, the first employed dentist, Dr. Alexandru Georgescu, and my first dental assistant, Alina Inache are still part of the team. Once I understood how important it is to properly take care of all the management aspects of a healthcare business, I “sacrificed my career as a dentist doctor” and began attending international management programs dedicated to this market, the most important ones being in the USA. The influence of the American dental market was crucial in most of the decisions I had to take over time regarding the evolution of DENT ESTET and helped me introduce a lot of the international dentistry standards in Romania. We were the first to have a multidisciplinary team of doctors, the first to open clinics dedicated exclusively to children or teenagers, the first to digitalize many dental procedures etc. It is essential to have healthcare management skills and know how, but in my opinion, you can’t reach the full potential of a manager if you don’t know this profession very well, or even if you don’t practice it for a while.

WM: When did you change your mind from professing as a dentist to becoming a business woman? What caused that shift? OT: I consider very important the moment when I realized that intuitive management is not enough. I wanted to change a lot of things, but I could not


do it because I worked as a doctor as well as a manager and coordinator of the medical team. And I think that from that point on I understood what it means to satisfy the high needs of my patients and I started my preparations as manager, attenting many management courses in the USA. I understood that in order to do this I had to differentiate DENT ESTET in this market, so I had to understand the importance of healthcare marketing. I applied human resources strategies with the purpose to build a strong, well prepared and efficient team. I also had to

research for the best materials, the best dental equipment and to understand the dental suppliers market. And, of course, all of these came with important financial aspects that I had to learn and oversee. It was obvious that I had to make a change in my proffesional life and embrace the transition from being a dentist to being a business woman. So… I cannot identify a “time 0” when talking about this switch of position. It came naturally as more patients were coming, the team got larger and it needed someone to unify all things under the same roof. For the past 15 years I’ve also been a business manager that takes all the responsibilities and assumes all the changes. It is, undoubtedly, more challenging, but nevertheless rewarding. I am glad that this change came easily because I realized that all my medical experience completed by the management skills that I grew through continuous learning had a great impact on my business. For example, I understand the professional needs of the doctors; I understand the role of the support and management teams and the most important thing is that I understand the fears and the expectations of the patients.


WM: Was the transition hard? What did you have to change? OT: As a dentist, it was really easy to understand quickly what patients wanted and, furthermore, what are the best treatment solutions for them, but as a leader I was facing the big picture perspective. Yes, the patient must always be the focus of your services, but as a leader you also focus on having the best medical team, and a really smart and strong support team, consisting of treatment coordinators, marketing specialists, front desk officers etc.

I always had to find ways to inspire our doctors to be totally focused on our patients and on creating a strong, stable medical team that share the same values. I always say that this (the stability of the team) is one of the most important reasons for this beautiful growth of DENT ESTET. From an external perspective, I think that the lack of access to information was influencing the patients at that time. But over the years and through continuous investment of time and effort in free educational campaigns, patients got more informed and more selective when

Before choosing to be a manager, I enjoyed being a dentist; I enjoyed talking all day long to patients and treating them. As a dentist you develop very close relationships with most of your patients and you are rewarded with kind words and recommendations.

choosing a doctor for their dental and medical treatment.

But, as time passed, I realized that I could help them in other ways, in innovating, in creating a powerful medical team, in investing in new technologies that could change their lives for the better. And looking from this angle, after building so many dental clinics, I am confident that I managed to reach the treatment quality level that patients expect to receive.

OT: Despite what sometimes journalists see in me and write in the media, I have never considered myself a very strong person, neither the best in something. But I knew that I could rely on my intuition and my desire to constantly improve things. I had to get stronger in order to succeed in a field where “the doctor” was more a masculine persona and made easier the transfer of trust. Also, I had to change my daily habits, as the number of clinics increased and, of course, my personal time became very limited. I had to find the resources to be at the same time a leader and a mom. And this is a continuous challenge.

WM: What obstacles did you face during this time? OT: If I were to talk about obstacles, there are two perspectives: internal and external. From an internal point of view, the two most challenging things when owning a dental clinic are the stability of the team, but also its formation and evolution.

WM: How has this transition changed you as a person?

In 2008 I decided to open the first dental clinic in Romania and Eastern Europe dedicated exclusively for children, DENT ESTET 4 KIDS. Carol, my son, was only 2 years old when I identified the need for a professional environment where he could be treated. Although I had a great team of dentists and the latest technology, I

understood the many benefits of opening a clinic specialized in pediatric dentistry, like in the USA. The need for such a clinic is really high everywhere, but unfortunately there aren’t many who prioritize this specialty. After 8 years, I still get confirmation that this is an important step forward in our field from thousands of parents who thank us every day for the way our pediatric doctors influence the general health and childhood of their daughters and sons.

WM: What are your goals for DENT ESTET’s future? OT: DENT ESTET is always developing and this process comes with a lot of new challenges. In April we will inaugurate the first digitalized dental clinic for adults in Romania, a very ambitious and beautiful project, with 8 units where we will be able to treat even the most difficult reconstruction cases and to guarantee the results of the treatment. Three years ago, DENT ESTET started its national extension and the first clinic outside Bucharest was in Timisoara. The next steps are to bring our knowledge and the entire DENT ESTET environment to other important cities in Romania, so very soon, we will probably open more clinics for children, teenagers and adults in some of the biggest cities in Romania. In 2016, DENT ESTET joined MedLife, the most important Healthcare Company in our country. We are honored that we are partners and that our consistent efforts from the past 18 years have been recognized by the indisputable healthcare market leader in Romania. We are part of a company that has the same values that we have and that has grown, like DENT ESTET, always guided by

their patient’s needs. That is why we are certain that together we will contribute not only to this business’s evolution, but also to the dentistry market growth, constantly investing in education, innovation and team’s development. On the other hand, we are really involved in supporting the market and we have a lot of plans in this direction. In 2013, we launched ADOM (Association of Dental Office Managers) in Romania and the first dental office management school in our country to prepare healthcare managers for developing dental clinics. Since then, we had 9 editions and we are

preparing the first conference for dental office management. Because there are so many doctors and clinics in Romania that ask for our help, we will soon launch DENT ESTET Education Division and give more of our medical and business know-how to the local dentistry market.

WM: What advice do you have for our alumni considering a medical career and/or starting their own business? OT: Dentistry starts with passion, towards patients and towards the profession itself. Of course, it is important to learn and graduate from a well-recognized university. But, complete all this theoretical knowledge with practice and courses. Take your time to learn and discover what you like, what you can do best (implantology, prosthetics, orthodontics, endodontics etc.) and then practice again. We brought many concepts in Romania from the US dentistry market and what I can point out is the fact that the key to being a great professional is to never get tired of learning and improving your skills.

After we trained more than 250 doctors, dental office owners and office managers through ADOM, we reached the same conclusion: if you want to practice medicine and to be a great professional, you have to work in an organized system and to let others take care of management, marketing, patient care, business controlling, etc. Dentistry is an art, in order to perfect it one must practice it. Once you have decided to be a great doctor take all the time to do that. And if you’d rather choose to be a manager, then be a manager, dedicate your time

to developing management skills, coordination, a little bit of every business area, and build a strong team. Either way, I advise alumni to choose one or the other path in order to obtain the best results.

WM: What is your greatest achievement in life thus far, professionally or personally? OT: Apart from my family and the beautiful marriage that brought so many good things to my life for the past 30 years, DENT ESTET is undoubtedly the greatest achievement in my life. The team, the values, the need to become better every day… I strongly believe that DENT ESTET is a trendsetter in Romanian dentistry and its influence in the quality of the medical act is the proof that with dedication and trust we can build structures that can improve and change lives.


Join us to celebrate our 5 Year Anniversary. August 2017, Bucharest - Romania

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