World Magazine - Summer 2015

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A M E R I C A N

I N T E R N A T I O N A L

S C H O O L

O F

B U C H A R E S T

SUMMER EDITION 2015

+ INTERVIEW: MATTHEW WERNER + CREATING PEER NETWORKS + UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN MIND AISB Parent / AISB Board of Trustees Chair / Management Counselor, US Embassy in Romania

Cutting edge research on improving youths experiencing homelessness due to their LGBT+ identity

Managing Partner, Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii PAGE 14

One-of-a-kind research project

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Romanian Feature 2

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Red Lake, Transylvania

The only one of its kind in the world, "Killer Lake," known officially as Red Lake (Lacu Rosu), is a natural barrier lake sitting at the foot of the Hasmasu Mare Mountains in the Eastern Carpathian Range in Romania. In 1837, a succession of heavy storms in the area loosened massive boulders, and uprooted trees and sediments, blocking several creeks and creating a natural dam. Virtually unknown to the rest of the world, this place awaits discovery by those interested in finding stark, yet breathtaking natural beauty in a rare place. Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Maria Tudor / AA President

Who would have thought that back in 2011 when I was approached by Mr. Lynn Wells to start forming an Alumni Association, four years later we would have a growing organization; one run by young and enthusiastic members, and one that actually makes a difference in our community? Now, at the end of the 20142015 school year, on behalf of the AA Executive Team, I can proudly say that our vision and plans for our association are becoming a reality.

Who are those young and enthusiastic members? We are a team of four alumni who care about AISB and the society in which we live, who volunteer our time and energy to a greater cause in order to create a strong network of professionals and businesspeople who can interact and work together globally. Our small but determined team is formed by: • Ioana Balu – Public Relations and Marketing Manager at Flavours Food Design, and Treasurer-Secretary of the Alumni Association. Ioana is energetic and hands-on; she is the brick of our team who brings in valuable ideas and ways to apply our vision; • Alex Cristescu – Lawyer and Manager of Sanctuaro, his family’s real estate business, and Legal Advisor of the Alumni Association. Alex is hard working, positive, and temperate, organizing our structure, the way we work, and all the legal aspects of the AA in order for the Association to be effective; • Patricia Khalil – Development and Communications Assistant at AISB, and Alumni Coordinator for the Alumni Association. Patty is dynamic and eager to see the relationship between the AA and AISB blossom, working to ensure our communication with the school is productive and our plans implemented; and • Maria Tudor – Managing Partner of Ensola LED Lighting Systems, and President of the Alumni Association, who, together with a group of dedicated and passionate alumni, set the foundations of the AA and fueled its growth. I am highly enthusiastic about, and a strong supporter of, the potential of our work.

Why do we do what we do for the Alumni Association? Because we want to give back to the school that made us who we are today: global citizens in a global world. I do hope that following the Alumni Association’s new developments, our team will grow and we will attract more active members to devote their time, energy, and knowledge to the AA, in order for us to accomplish greater projects. To those of you who will become involved with the Alumni Association moving forward, I can sincerely say that I am positive that the outcomes of our existing accomplishments will encourage you, AISB Alumni, to join forces in our endeavor to successfully bring together a network of highly capable world citizens. As you will see in this WORLD Magazine issue, our community is formed of smart, influential, and hard working people at the top of the academic sphere. Together, we can create lasting and meaningful work, giving back not only to the school that educated us, AISB, but also to the communities that we are each part of in our own corners of the world.

Maria Tudor AA President

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VOLUME 4 / ISSUE 1 SUMMER 2015 EDITORIAL TEAM Alex Cristescu, Patricia Khalil, Maria Tudor, Ioana Balu, Sever Savanciuc CONTRIBUTORS Tim Battersby, Christine Bittner Hubley, Robert Brindley, Alex Cristescu, Mihai Grozavescu, Patricia Khalil, Angelika Strohmayer, Marcela Talero-Hester, Maria Tudor PHOTOGRAPHY Bogdan Greavu AISB Archives DESIGN AND TYPOGRAPHY Mario Zamfir School Brand LLC ONLINE EDITION School Brand LLC WORLD ALUMNI MAGAZINE Sos. Pipera Tunari 196 Com. Voluntari Jud. Ilfov Romania 077190 Tel.: 021 204-4300 Fax: 021 204-4384 Email: alumnimarketing@aisb.ro www.aisb.ro Published by Design Works Publishing Co Print Circulation: 1000 copies Electronic Circulation: 2000 copies Cover Design: Mario Zamfir

About AISB

AISB was founded in 1962 and is currently Bucharest's largest international school. The language of instruction is English and teaching is based upon an American style curriculum. The school offers the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program from Early Childhood through 12th grade. AISB is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Council of International Schools, and the International Baccalaureate Organization and is recognized by the Ministry of Education in Romania.

Copyright Š 2014 AISB ALUMNI. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Trademarks: WORLD Alumni Magazine, AISB Alumni Association and their associated logos are trademarks of the American International School of Bucharest. All other names, logos, and trademarks of other companies shown in this publication are the property of their respective owners.


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The Value of Professional & Personal Networking

18 29

2015 AISB PTO Annual Auction Gala

2015 Alumni Reunion - London

CONTENTS 06 08 11 17 21 22 23 24 25 26 28

DIRECTOR'S LETTER UP, UP, UP AND AWAY INTERVIEW: MATTHEW WERNER ONE SWEET DAY INTERVIEW: ANDRADA PETCU INTERVIEW: ALEX WALLAR WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO INTERVIEW: IRINA SOFIA LUCA CREATING PEER NETWORKS INTERVIEW: CORINA CACICOVSCHI MY QUEST TO UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN MIND

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Director's Message

Robert Brindley / AISB Director

The advancement of technology in the last forty years has been truly remarkable. How remarkable, time will tell, nevertheless, probably more significant than the industrial revolution’s effect on our civilisation, but less impactful, say, than the last ice age. That was challenging; it forced major changes to the lifestyle of the early hominids: they either adapted to their new environment, migrated, or perished. However, history’s view of us in forty years’ time, with regards to the impact of technology, will be quite different from our current perspectives. So how do we step outside ourselves and try to analyze the influence technology has on our lives? Experiencing and then understating the slowly encroaching ice age would have been difficult for our early ancestors, but the ability to accept change and adapt was critical to their survival. Things are not quite so dire with regards to understanding the social influence of iPhone usage, but technology is affecting our lives and we need to understand what is happening, if we are not to strand ourselves in a sea of social ice. Four decades ago I was writing my

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thesis at university on Radioactive Decay Ratios in the Uranium/Vanadium Deposits of Triassic Sediments; not everybody’s idea of fun, but something that absorbed a few months of my final year at university. The analysis involved many mathematical calculations; as there was only one calculator in the geology department, the size of a large brick, and just as heavy, I resorted to using a mechanical calculator, one with cogs and wheels. Now, compare that to an iPhone 6 or the latest calculator our students use, the TI-nspire. My ability to compute was Neanderthal compared to today’s capacity. The technological advances in the past forty years have been truly staggering; but with every great invention, there is also a downside. I am saddened when I see so many people socialising only through the social network, and yet that worldwide connectivity opens political understanding and liberates opinion. I am rather dismayed at the slowness of our students’ mental math, but amazed at the power of the calculators they use. I am at a loss as to where the balance might be between a and b, but I am sure that there are key traits that I know all

our students, and alumni will need, whatever the future might bring, in whatever vocation they might choose. These characteristics are timeless and transcend what might be the latest technology, albeit the pencil (imagine how liberating that would have been to a student who was used to chalk and then a messy quill!) or a tablet, much like the underlying principles of our curricula. The ten IB learner profiles of being knowledgeable, able to think and inquire, having good communication skills, being principled, open-minded, caring, and a risk-taker, as well as appreciating a balanced and reflective lifestyle, form the foundation to a successful life. And perhaps one extra, and the most important of all – tenacity. Regards,

Robert Brindley AISB Director


Director’s Blog http://director.aisb.ro/ “Much happens at AISB that goes unnoticed, or is very visible

and is never commented upon. We send out regular newsletters, but often the day-to-day minor improvements get lost. Thus, in the months to come, this blog will give me an opportunity to communicate more detailed updates on the running of this school. I will regularly be posting updates and, whenever needed, in emergencies.” Dr. Robert Brindley AISB Director, Dr. Robert Brindley, started a blog this year to outline major happenings at AISB. This new communication tool is helping AISB paint a more accurate picture of what is happening at the school daily, as well as of strategic plans that are followed.

“All posts will allow comments, and I encourage you to participate in the discussions at hand. To do so, click on the title of the blog post and scroll down to the end. All posts are monitored and only signed posts will be approved.”

Please take a moment to visit the Director’s Blog to find out what has been discussed thus far. We encourage you to share your thoughts; as AISB Alumni, and former constituents of the school, your views and ideas are highly valued.

Please follow the blog and stay in close touch with AISB and Dr. Robert Brindley.

Share your news with us!

Getting in touch with old friends

We are always happy to hear from alumni about their life after AISB. If you have news you would like to share with your alumni community, then please get in touch and we will do our best to include your story. Please keep us up-to-date with your news.

We have a number of ways in which you can make contact with each other - through attendance at one of our many events, via the search facility on our website (coming soon) or through searching the various social media sites we have a presence on.

For more details, contact: Salwa Patricia Khalil AISB Alumni Coordinator I skhalil@aisb.ro

We would also like to hear from alumni who have contact details for other alumni they know we are out of touch with.

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Salwa Patricia Khalil / AISB Communications & Alumni Coordinator

This year has been full of growth for the AISB Alumni Association and it has been a turning point in establishing a growing relationship with AISB and its students. With the appointment of a new AISB Director, and many proactive faculty and staff members, there have been advances within the Alumni Association like never before. These developments have been paramount in establishing ourselves as a group that is present in the lives of current AISB students by offering experiences, advice, and opportunities. The Alumni Association is proud to present this year’s achievements: • Coaching AISB students in sports, with Marius Opran coaching the High School Junior Varsity Boys A and B teams in Basketball, and Vicky Paun coaching the High School Girls in Softball. Thank you Marius and Vicky for your effort and dedication! • Developing our new Alumni website with the terrific handiwork of AISB’s Webmaster, Mr. Catalin Nicoara, and the ongoing support of Ms. Catalina Gardescu, Manager of Admissions and External Relations. We are working on networking features now and testing the website to ensure that the capabilities are maximized for you.

Up, Up, Up, and Away! Column by Salwa Patricia Khalil

AISB Alumna / Class of 2009 AISB Communications & Alumni Coordinator doors to the biggest Alumni group ever seen, with many graduates of the Class of 2014 joining us for their first AISB Alumni Reunion. Thank you to all who participated! • Welcoming 47 new Alumni Graduates, the Class of 2015, to the Alumni Association in May 2015, followed by the annual Alumni vs. Students soccer game. • Working with the AISB Library and Dr. John Kurtenbach, to invite AISB Alumna Zainab Syed, to perform Spoken Word Poetry in June 2015. Zainab shared her love and enthusiasm for poetry with students in Grades 5 through 11, inspiring them to reach beyond the four walls of the classroom and live their passions. • Sowing the seeds for “Enterprise the Revolution,” with Mr. Mark Monaghan, Economics Teacher at AISB – with Alumni helping to support two business related activities for students at AISB next year. • Working together with High School Guidance and College Counselor, Mr. Tim Battersby, to organize Alumni and AISB interactions. Together with Tim, we have:

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Hosted a “Packing your Bags” session with Grade 12 students in conjunction with the annual Senior Brunch in May 2015. Thank you to our Alumni Association President, Maria Tudor, who compiled a list of valuable advice, tips, and tricks from our alumni across the world to give our newest graduates a window into what University will hold for them, including tips on studying, budgeting, socializing, and more. Alumnae Diane Marpozan, Vicky Paun, and I were also there to answer questions and share insights. Thank you Miss Marpozan and Miss Paun!

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Hosted three “Career Talk” sessions throughout the year with Grade 10 students, covering: Law, Real Estate, Energy, Politics, Language Studies, Business Management and Family Businesses, Communications, Events, Marketing, Advertising, and Hospitality. Thank you Alex Cristescu, Monica Cristescu, Maria Tudor, Cosmin Ghita, and Simona Panait, alongside whom I have taken part in many interesting sessions throughout the school year;

AISB alumni have continued to do excellent work at AISB as members of the faculty and staff, with Diane Marpozan joining the AISB team this year as the newest alumni faculty member. We have been ever present at AISB events, including the Terry Fox Run, Annual Auction Gala, and International Festival, to name a few, and we have continued putting together this excellent magazine for our alumni across the world, with an extensive team behind the scenes working busily to take this magazine to the next level.

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Supported the counseling workshop for Grade 11 students and parents in January 2015, helping to kick off the university search and application process. Seven AISB Alumni shared their insights and experiences, helping students and parents alike, gain new perspectives on life after High School. Thank you to Alex Cristescu, Ioana Balu, Philip Bouri, Tianqi Yang, Bogdan Doicescu, Oana Toma, and Monica de Romeo for participating;

This year has been a fantastic year of growth for us and we are counting on you to keep building on this. Thank you for all you have done – each and every one of you truly makes a difference!

• Working with the Middle School “Roots and Shoots” group, where Alumnus Eduardo Khalil took students through the theories and realities of building a green house. Thank you Eduardo for helping our students take their first step in turning this project from an idea into a reality. • Hosting an excellent Alumni Reunion in March 2015. With fantastic advertising leading up to the event by Alex Cristescu, Sever Savanciuc, Ruxi Micsunescu, and Radu Zatreanu, London again opened its

their kids off to University. A special and heartfelt thank you to AISB Board of Trustees Vice Chair and Chair of the Advancement Committee, and alumni parent Ms. Veronica Savanciuc, and parent guest, Mrs. Jann Brindley, as well as to Alex Cristescu and Maria Tudor, who helped parents understand the many faces of having a child leave home during the “Letting Go” session – both from the perspective of the parents and the young adults;

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Talked to Grade 12 parents about the anxieties and practicalities of sending

Have a fabulous summer break and I’ll be looking forward to connecting with you soon! All the best, Salwa Patricia Khalil AISB Communications & Alumni Coordinator skhalil@aisb.ro


Tim Battersby / AISB HS Guidance & College Counselor

The Value of

As our careers develop, we become increasingly aware of the value of our personal and professional networks. “Who you know, not what you know” plays out into opportunities and influence. We also become more conscious of how carefully and deliberately nurturing interpersonal relationships brings multiple flow on effects. It doesn’t take much to be friendly, to be empathetic, and to really listen to and engage with others. But wow! What a difference it makes!

We’ve all been teenagers, dealing with the awkward juggle of growing bodies, hormones, pushing for independence and recognition, worrying about the future, and trying to fit into complicated social worlds.

Professional & Personal Networking Column by Tim Battersby

AISB HS Guidance & College Counselor

Developmentally, teenagers struggle to be able to foresee the long term future impact of their present choices. Teenagers aren’t the easiest animals to work with and sometimes we wonder if they are even listening to a word we are saying. Believe me, despite the disinterested body language and minimal dialogue, they are soaking up everything around them, fitting it into their rapidly evolving concept of the world and their place in it. So as the committed members of the AISB Alumni Association walk away from another Grade 10 careers discussion, wondering if the sixteen year olds were only thinking about Game of Thrones or how many people liked their last FaceBook post, be assured, your messages were heard. This year we ran a series of careers discussions with Grade 10 students, and the messages were clear:

• AISB is a great school (teenagers might doubt this);

• IB prepares you well for university (teenagers might detest the IB!);

• You are part of a community and network that will be there for life; • That network is active and seeking out ways to better support current students; • Work hard at AISB, it is worth it; and • Make the most of all the opportunities outside the classroom.

Embedded in their enthusiasm for AISB, the AA delivered believable and encouraging sentiments for our teenagers to value both the here and now experiences as well as to start to understand the strength of the community to which they belong. If we start seeding these appreciations in Grade 10 and consistently grow them in Grades 11 and 12, everyone benefits. The current students will be able to tangibly see the benefits of both their time at AISB and of the alumni network ahead of them, and the AA will be gaining proud, active and engaged members ready to reap the benefits of the alumni network.

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As a careers and university advisor, each year I run a workshop for Grade 11 students and parents to kick off the university search and application process. I can honestly say that the session in January of this year was one of the most pertinent and profound I’ve coordinated. It’s not because I’m getting better at my job, but because of the very real and relevant input by several members of the AA. University applications are stressful, and let’s be honest, despite being important and exciting for the future direction of our kids, presenting the topic can be a bit dry. Not last January! Ioana Balu ’07, Alex Cristescu ’09, Philip Bouri ’04, Tianqi Yang ’09, Bogdan Doicescu ’08, Oana Toma ’07, and Monica de Romeo ’07, not only outlined their individual journeys from their senior years at AISB to university and now into their early careers, but they provided current and believable tips for both students and parents. Below are a few quotes from Grade 11 parents, attesting to the impact the AA made: “I was impressed by their confident attitude. Bogdan’s speech was well structured, organized and concise. This means that his upbringing, grafted on a good school background, gave wonderful results. Such meetings are useful because they provide information and give a sense of confidence that our children will succeed, too.”

“I am so glad of this new initiative because I could hear many details and tips from a student’s perspective. This was extra helpful especially because these students are now all working and have enough maturity to highlight exactly the aspects that most matter, how to tackle them best. Everybody tells us how not to panic, focus, and stick to the schedule, but their feedback and advice was even more detailed and helpful.”

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“The testimonies from the alumni were very helpful for us in deciding which country our son should go to for his studies. It was wonderful to hear directly from former students their experiences and see their enthusiasm.” “The meeting with AISB Alumni helped us to realize that there are countless possibilities and everyone has a chance without actually having to be ‘the perfect’ student. They also could give specific insight in terms of how their applications went. It truly helps us to support our own kids as much as we can, emotionally but also in terms of research.” Another anxious group of parents shuffled into the library one wet March evening to meet with several members of the AA, Jann Brindley, Alumni Guest and wife of AISB Director, and Veronica Savanciuc, mother of two AISB Alumni, and AISB's Board of Trustees Vice Chair and Chair of the Advancement Committee, to talk about the challenging period of preparing for sending their babies, the Class of 2015, off to university. As you might recall, this is quite a tough time for parents, who try and look brave as they bluff to match their child’s excitement and enthusiasm about leaving for the wide world beyond the family home. Many fears and concerns were discussed and alleviated. Many tips and strategies tabled for the eager parents. The sharing of experiences was rich, genuine and heartfelt, with a collective sigh of relief visibly noticeable as the parents departed, a little lighter and reassured.

So the AA did some great work this year, informing and connecting with our older students and their parents.

This energy and commitment is commendable, and knowing the driving forces behind the AA, this will continue to be part of the annual contribution made. I’m going to throw out a challenge to you all. I spoke to some Grade 10, 11, and 12 students about what they would like to see from the AA. For the most part they were impressed that Alumni want to come back to AISB and meet with current students, but there were a couple of valid suggestions made, which you should hear and consider: “I’d like to know who has gone to the universities that I want to apply to, so that I could talk to them and hear what it is really like” – several students have contacted AA members, asking questions about entrance requirements, getting accepted, portfolios, interviews and student life.

“I’m considering a gap year and want to know if any of the alumni might be able to help me find work” – It would be wonderful if alumni could establish a system where AISB students could access work experience and internships, even possibly post job vacancies for their own business ventures. Thanks and congratulations to the AA team for having such a wide ranging impact across the AISB community this year. All power to you as we set the sails for more and more engagement with the current AISB community.


Interview with

Matthew Werner AISB Parent / AISB Board of Trustees Chair / Management Counselor at the US Embassy in Romania WM: How did you start your career in International Diplomacy? What are the main roles of your job in Bucharest? MW: It all started when I was in High School. I never travelled as a kid. I stayed in the same general area of the United States and did not have a passport, which is very unlike the kids here. When I was in High School, I had the opportunity to do an exchange program of three weeks in the Soviet Union. “First trip, go big,” sort of thing. Based on this trip I knew I wanted to do something international. After I finished High School, I went to university in Washington DC and I studied International Relations. When I graduated, I worked for the World Bank for a couple of years but it wasn’t the right job for me. I always had a love for history and politics, and I always knew that I wanted to work in the international sphere, so after about four years, I applied and got into the State Department, what we call the Foreign Service. As to my role here, the role of any Diplomat is, first and foremost, to promote the interests of our own country. Specifically, I am the Management Counselor at the US Embassy, which involves Human Resources, hiring and firing, the budgets, the physical structure, IT; basically the administration of the place. Because the United States have not had an ambassador in Romania, I have also been the Deputy Chief of Mission several times. I spent a year in that role, here in Bucharest. It has a much more public angle; dealing with the Romanian government a lot more and assisting the change: helping them move forward. WM: Why did you move to Romania? MW: In the Foreign Service, we have a bidding process where we do not neces-

sarily get to pick where we go; we are involved in the process but someone else still makes the ultimate decision. When I was in my last assignment and the time had come, my wife and I looked at what was available: we looked at the jobs, the cities we would be living in, whether or not language would be available, the schools, the housing, whether my wife could get a job. To be honest, from the beginning of the process, Romania was really our top choice. We are very happy and lucky that we managed to come here. WM: What is your involvement with AISB? MW: I have three layers of involvement. First and foremost I am a parent; I have two kids in the school. Over the last three years I have been at the school quite a lot as a parent attending great school wide events or just events in the classroom and obviously parent-teacher meetings, as well as school community events such as the Terry Fox Run. In my official Embassy role as the Management Officer, I am the liaison between the Embassy and AISB. I will get involved if the embassy parents have an issue with the school, make sure the payments are made, and other administrative issues. Thirdly, I have been very blessed to be the Chair of the Board of Trustees of AISB for the past two years. I also sit on the Educational Policy Committee and the Governance Committee. Through the Board, I have been involved in a number of aspects at the school; for example I was involved in the search for Dr. Brindley, the new AISB Director as of this school year. Between the three roles, there have been times when I am at the school weekly, and sometimes multiple times a week, so

I can say that I am heavily involved. WM: What is the importance of an international school in the larger global community? MW: I see two aspects here. One, is the physical role that the school plays just by being here. Having a good international school, whether it’s an American curriculum, British, French etc., is an attractant for international companies, for businesses, and for diplomats. I have personally heard that for many international corporations, the existence and quality of an international school is a major influence in how many expats they have here. It plays a huge role. And the second aspect: I also think that an education in an international school plays a very important role in the global community because it leads to producing, what we call, Global Citizens. We have a real mix in the school; there are people from all around the world: children of diplomats or managers from different corporations, children from the host country whose parents are members of government or business men and women, children of the teachers, and scholarship students. This mix at the very least should create a culture of tolerance and respect for other cultures, faiths, and communities, and it produces, what we call, a true Global Citizen. WM: How would you describe a Global Citizen? MW: I think a Global Citizen is someone who enjoys travelling and meeting people, who has an understanding that we no longer live in a world where you can be invisible and cut yourself off from the rest of the world. As we saw in 2008, it’s a global economy! What happens in one place affects everywhere else. We

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“Bucharest has

been really the most livable posting that we’ve had. The kids have had a great school experience, we’ve really enjoyed where we’ve lived, my wife has been able to work, which is never a guarantee wherever we go, and professionally it has been a great experience for me...”

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are truly all in this together. Regardless of one’s belief in climate change or the politics happening in different places, regardless of how one feels about the concept of global economy, they all have an impact on all of us even if it’s just how people react to those concepts. People, who, from an early age, receive an education that allows them to understand these concepts and issues and prepares them to deal with these things, become future leaders. It does not mean that one has to give up his or her culture or home country. I consider myself to be a global citizen, yet I am also very patriotic. Just because I believe that the USA is a wonderful place and I promote our points of view, I don’t think that makes me blind to the importance of other countries and cultures and the value that they provide. Being a Global Citizen allows you to be both open-minded, while staying true to your roots, and nowadays that is critically important for the future. WM: What is your advice to parents raising Global Citizens? MW: Be as involved and engaged in your child’s education as you can be! Depending on the culture one comes from, especially in the US, the school sometimes is seen as a babysitter in that – one parks their kids there and lets them run with it. That does not work anymore. A parent has to know what is going on and be in communication with the school. I encourage parents to get involved in the PTO and the Board of Trustees. If people have an interest, they should definitely raise their hand and make themselves known as the Board of Trustees look for people who are already engaged in the school when selecting new members. The IB, as a framework on how the school is run, is still relatively new. It’s been in existence for quite a while now, but its spread across the face of the globe is a new phenomenon popping up everywhere. Parents have to educate themselves as to what that means and what is going to happen. The IB is not for everybody. Personally, I like it and IB schools will be a factor in our bidding process. Schools are not a “one size fits all” deal. Parents need to know what is going on in the school to have the right expectations. Every parent should expect the best and if they’re not getting the best, they should work towards it. But it is hard work, one can’t just demand something and expect it to happen overnight. WM: How do you see the school changing in the next 5 to 10 years? What

about the Alumni Association? MW: In order to answer these questions we have to go back a few years. Several years ago, the Board of Trustees made the decision to go from three classes per grade level, to four. That decision automatically changes the future of the school. Is the school going to max out at 600 – 700 students? Or is it going to max out at 1000 – 1100 students? That is a big change. That decision prompted huge growth in the school over the last 5 years. Under the previous Director, Dr. Ottaviano, the school made huge strides forward to deal with the changes to accommodate that growth. Under Dr. Brindley, what we are seeing is a continuation of that. Right now, and certainly during my time here, we’re seeing a change of what I like to describe as a “mom and pop style” organization – in which decisions can be made via consensus and there are more people involved, and where things can sometimes get done on the fly – to a more corporate mentality where the school is of a size now where we have to have strict plans on how we’re going to handle things and where we’re going. We just have too many students to operate how we were operating 7 years ago. Where is this taking us? I think that over the next 2 years there are going to be many changes in order to complete the transition to a more corporate mentality. We are becoming a more recognized international school outside of Romania. We’re moving from a good or very good school, to a potentially great school that will be renowned throughout Central and Eastern Europe and perhaps worldwide. 10 years out is kind of hard to predict, but hopefully the trend will continue. The Alumni Association… 3 years ago we didn’t even have one. So hopefully what we will see out of you over the next 5 years is further consolidation, a fully functional association which has a set role on how it engages with the alumni, the up and coming alumni and the community. The association will have to figure out what roles they play and how to do that. WM: How do you think the school can benefit from the AA? MW: An association such as yours can do many, many things. Besides reaching out to people who have attended the school, working with recent graduates, and developing a social-business network, associations are fund-raising organizations from which the school and their own members who have seen a hardship or a tragedy can benefit. I

believe the association can serve a powerful mentoring role to those kids who are about to enter the real world. Alumni can provide information about schools or even help kids to get into schools, and help people find roles in business and the community after they are finished with their schooling. One change that you will see Dr. Brindley push, is how fundraising is done here. The Alumni Association will get more involved in the future. Right now the PTO’s fundraising goes both to scholarships and grants programs. The Alumni Association will need to come up with a plan on what to do. Will you want to fund additional scholarships? Will you want to fund a different grants program? Will you be helping out those in need among your current members or doing something for the school, like building a functional classroom? There are many things that can be done and that should be done. So far you have made good initial progress. Now you are in that growing pains phase when you’re trying to create that vision. At some point you will have to make that decision to move things forward and see what will happen and how people respond. WM: You and your family are leaving Bucharest at the end of this school year. What will you miss most about Romania and AISB? MW: Bucharest has been really the most livable posting that we’ve had. The kids have had a great school experience, we’ve really enjoyed where we’ve lived, my wife has been able to work, which is never a guarantee wherever we go, and professionally it has been a great experience for me not just by managing an embassy of this size, but also having the opportunity of being Deputy Chief of Mission for so long. There is a lot of stress that comes alongside these responsibilities, but it has been a really good professional experience. All the things above are never a guarantee when you move to a new place, so we will miss Bucharest. For the school, although it has been an incredible amount of work, I’ve had the luxury of playing such a pivotal role here, and seeing so much positive change is just an amazing experience. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to be that engaged with a school again in the future. I really think AISB is headed towards true greatness and I really look forward to seeing where the school is year after year, and to see how the things that I have been a part of will continue. It’s been a wonderful experience!

AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST 13


Interview with

Gabriel Zbârcea Managing Partner, Țucă Zbârcea & Asociații

AISB Parent and Board of Trustees Member

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“I was impressed with the role played by

the community in the school’s life, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of active volunteers in the PTO and in the Alumni Association, their voluntary involvement for the school’s growth and benefit. ” WM: Please tell us a bit of information about how you came to study law and about your career. GZ: Ever since high school I liked humanities and I understood that rhetoric and working with people suited me. So, naturally, I went to the Faculty of Law. When I graduated, I had to choose between being a judge in Bucharest, and being a lawyer. I chose to become a lawyer, and have since been in this vocation. I have been a lawyer since 1995, so I had the opportunity to be a member of the legal profession from the very first year of its modern age. The law of the legal profession, which completely reformed the communist system, became effective on January 1st, 1996. Then I grew and evolved, working mostly with foreign clients who came to invest in Romania. I have been a Managing Partner of Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii for nine years. Previously I worked as a Deputy Senior Partner and Partner with another leading law firm for seven years. I have also had multiple roles in the public administration, as Counselor to the PrimeMinister of Romania, President of the Romanian Privatization Agency – the

Authority for State Assets Recovery (AVAS), and President of the Privatization Commission for Banca Comercială Română (BCR), now a member of Erste Group. WM: What does a legal career entail? GZ: First, you need to have a Law degree. Then you need to choose one of the legal areas: judge, prosecutor, in-house lawyer, or lawyer. I chose to be a lawyer, as it is the most free and liberal profession; it secures my independence, autonomy and multiple choices. There are many opportunities and challenges that go with this profession. Being a judge, for example, means security, a safe pay and irremovability because you cannot be transferred and/or removed from office without your consent. However, on the other side, the legal profession involves risks. It is a business: you do not know how many clients you will have and how much money you are left with at the end of the month. WM: What are the biggest hurdles one has to pass to be able to work as a lawyer at an international corporate level? GZ: The main hurdle is that of time. You sacrifice much

of the time for yourself and your loved ones in favor of the clients you work for. You earn money, reputation, and social status, but precious time in your life passes you by, you give up the chance for some defining moments and memories. WM: Please describe your relation to AISB. GZ: I am the father of 3 children who study at AISB, two girls, one who just graduated from 12th grade and the other in 2nd grade, and a boy in 4th grade. So, due to the permanent contact with my kids, I am very well connected to what goes on at their school, both its achievements and deficiencies. As the 3 children are in different age groups – primary and secondary school – I get various communications from the school, including the syllabus, the teachers, and the requirements, among others. For my children, I would be ready to give up everything I own. So, with this in mind, I can spare to dedicate some of my time to the school that educates them. I have been a member of the AISB Board of Trustees since last year. I knew what being involved in the Board would entail, since I was informed of my potential future responsibilities in the preliminary interviews of

the Board. Following two thorough interviews, the existing Board members chose me to join them as their newest Board member. Within the Board of Trustees, I am also involved in the Advancement Committee. The Advancement Committee seeks to raise public awareness of AISB, to raise funds, to find interesting and significant projects, and to identify financing sources. However, I do more at AISB than attend school events, functions for my kids, or Board or Committee meetings. Țuca Zbârcea & Asociații and I have delivered pro bono legal assistance to AISB on multiple tax issues, employment law, permitting matters, and contractor agreements. WM: As a parent of AISB children, what do you think are the main differences between an education in a Romanian school and at an International School? GZ: The main difference is the perspective on the development of the student’s personality. Through every educational means, AISB encourages initiative, exploration of the students’ personality, creativity, spontaneity, and free thinking. The Romanian educational system is governed by very strict rules likely to inhibit outside-the-box thinking

AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST 15


or differences; it uniforms the students, it is a closed system. Certainly, there are many other differences concerning the syllabus, the quality of the teachers, the equipment, and the perspectives that graduating from AISB brings with it, but my choice was first and foremost made based on the way in which the 2 schools approach the child’s personality. I think I still have many unclosed wounds caused by the communist education system.

solutions and decisions. It is critical to know what one is looking for, where to look for it and what decisions to take. It is vital to assume responsibility for these decisions. Students have the center stage; everything revolves around them. The other players, namely parents and teachers, are their mentors, but in the end it is the students who have to take the decision. The outcome, be it a success or a failure, is theirs. This helps them to adapt and become global citizens from a tender age.

WM: How do you believe AISB aids in shaping the future of its students?

WM: What are the school’s projects in the short and long term?

GZ: AISB contributes to harmoniously shaping the children’s personality, it broadens their horizons, and it forges them and prepares them for life. It makes them smarter, but also better prepared for the obstacles and challenges they will be faced with as adults.

GZ: In the short term, AISB plans to consolidate its status as one of the best schools in Romania, with a special focus on the quality of its teachers, the improvement of its equipment, rigor, efficiency and transparency in spending money, continuous communication with the AISB community, and the compliance with appropriate suggestions and recommendations. In the long term, this will enable AISB to be the best, the school

The most important thing is that AISB students are encouraged to look for solutions and then to assume responsibility for their

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of choice; indisputably, irrefutably the top school of Romania.

and then use my experiences, my skills, and my resources for the school.

WM: As a newly appointed Board Member, how do you view the AISB education, where students, teachers, parents, alumni and others come together?

WM: How can the School community benefit from an Alumni Association?

GZ: When I first came in touch with what AISB stands for, I was impressed with the role played by the community in the school’s life, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of active volunteers in the PTO and in the Alumni Association, and their voluntary involvement for the school’s growth and benefit. Whether it is the Terry Fox Run, the International Day, the AISB Gala, various expositions, events, or the day-to-day life of the school, all these volunteers who give a slice of their own time to the school deserve a round of applause. AISB is not merely a school, it is united in spirit, a big family. I must confess that the example set by all of you determined me to get involved, to apply for the position of Board Member

GZ: You, the alumni, know best how the school works: what are its advantages as well as its disadvantages, what needs to be kept, maintained, developed and what needs to be improved or changed; you are the ones who know exactly what skills and competencies you gained from AISB supported you in your careers, or on the flip side, you know what you would have liked to have acquired in school to get better results at university and beyond. You know what it was like to apply to various top universities around the world, what enabled you to be accepted or, on the contrary, what you lacked. Your experiences are unique and priceless from this point of view, and as such, the first feedback on how to add value to AISB can only be yours.


“One Sweet Day”

coming September 2016! // “One Sweet Day”… on the calendar!

Column by Christine Bittner Hubley

AISB Alumna / Attended AISB from 1992 - 2001

I remember my Middle School graduation as being one of the happiest and saddest days of my life. The whole class celebrated another milestone in growing up, and we looked forward to being “cool” high school kids the following year. Although most classes at AISB are tight-knit, our 8th grade class was unusually small and because of that, we felt even closer. I celebrated with friends that I had considered cootie infested some years back – one friend had even been my arch-nemesis (9 year old Thomas Wesson, I’m looking at you). I joined AISB back in 1992 (when it was ASB) for Kindergarten and enjoyed every second of it, each year better than the last. 8th grade (20002001) had been a wonderful year full of hiking, skiing, a mud pit, kicking fallen chestnuts, and even some learning. There was only one problem: I was leaving. Actually, about half of our already tiny class was leaving. To make matters worse, this was the last year the school would use the Dorobanti campus. The school was growing and it was evolving. It was the end of an era. Our class reacted the only way we knew how to at 14 years of age: melodramatically (at least I did!). We hugged, we cried, we made promises, and we wrote feverishly in each other’s yearbooks. As part of our graduation ceremony, we chose to sing

“One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, a song about seeing lost loved ones again. We graduated 8th grade, half of us moved, and we slowly lost contact. But technology is a beautiful thing. Through social media, we were able to find each other again and reconnect. Nothing beats the thrill of digging through profile pictures to recognize your childhood friend’s smile! A reunion was suggested and after some trial and error we finally have one in the works! At first, I was worried about dusting off old connections and possibly ruining the memories I had, but planning this reunion has already brought our class back together. In the first few days of planning we have already found a few more lost friends, filled in blurry details of our favorite memories, and found out that we haven’t changed all that much after all. I can’t wait to see everyone! Technically, as the “Class of 2005,” a reunion in September of 2016 is one year off our 10 year anniversary, but late is definitely better than never. I hope to celebrate once more with all my friends, and make some new ones while I’m at it. One Sweet Day is finally on the calendar!

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AISB PTO Annual Auction Gala

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On March 28th, 2015 the Radisson Blu Hotel, situated in the center of Bucharest, opened its doors to an evening to remember - the AISB PTO Annual Auction Gala. This event aims to make a difference in the lives of young learners, supporting both local Romanian students, through the AISB Scholarship Fund, and


international students, through the PTO Grant Program. Funds raised at the Auction Gala enable the school to offer full scholarships to AISB, to young local individuals, empowering them, through an outstanding education, to in turn transform the shape of tomorrow. Similarly, the PTO Grants support the aspirations of students at

AISB, adding value to their learning by injecting funds into service learning projects, curriculum projects and resources, music and drama programs, and sports and playground facilities. Everyone who was part of the Bucharest, My Little Paris Auction Gala truly played a role in making a difference in the lives of AISB’s

students. The contributions, time, and effort of the incredible volunteers, parents, students, teachers, and sponsors, are most appreciated and valued. Their invaluable generosity and commitment to openheartedly supporting AISB year after year shines through.

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GALA SPONSORS

Arthur Murray Dance Centers Urban Design Associates World Class Romania

Dent Estet Clinic Distileriile Alexandrion Grup Romania Florin Voica and The Romanian Sommelier Association Mercedes Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii

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Albatross Travel Cafele Premiate Cameron Clinica Eliade Club Moving COSEPA Security International Del Mar Medical Center Facilitec Golf SRL Flavours Food Design Fly Go Voyager SRL Goldart Ghildus Gosselin Romania Worldwide Movers Group Happy Tour SRL Hispanitas New Concept Travel - American Express Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest Stejarii Country Club

Anonymous Educational Centre SRL Grand Hotel Perla Ciucasului Hatson Ines Metro Cash & Carry Romania SRL Proctor & Gamble Raiffeisen Bank Romania Ramada North Hotel


Interview with

Andrada Petcu AISB Alumna / Class of 2009

Andrada Petcu is a graduate of the Class of 2009. She pursued her university studies in London, where she now lives and works, enjoying life in the Healthcare Sector.

WM: Why did you pursue a career related to medicine? AP: I initially wanted to pursue a career in Human Genetics. The reason I studied Human Genetics is to be able to apply it to the general population. After completing my BSc at University College London (UCL) I realized that it would take a lot more research for genetics to be applied to the general population, as most research was still limited to smaller organisms. Additionally, being a very hands-on individual meant that research in the lab was not very fulfilling for me. WM: What university did you go to and why? AP: I completed a BSc in Human Genetics at UCL. Before completing my 3rd year at university, I was not sure of what I wanted to do next and was seeking advice from friends already working in the healthcare sector. One of my really good friends suggested Healthcare Management. The idea thrilled me and I decided to apply for the International Healthcare Management Program at Imperial College London. I thoroughly enjoyed my year at Imperial. WM: Tell us about your future plans. AP: My future plans are not yet fully contoured, I am learning a lot at the moment and my life is

very much fast-paced. I would like to become an Outpatient Manager in the future and continue to pride myself in the support and development of my employees as well as that of the services we are offering. WM: What do you currently do? What responsibilities do you have as part of your job? AP: I am currently working as an Outpatient Supervisor at King’s College Dental Institute. What I love about my role is that it remains patient focused as well as management focused. I am in charge of the smooth day-today running of the clinics, liaising with clinicians, complaints handling, employee appraisals, and providing an outstanding customer service. Most recently, I was offered the opportunity to cover the role of Outpatient Manager and Dental Records Service Manager for a 3-month period while my manager was away. This experience was fantastic for me as it gave me a great opportunity to have a birds-eye view on the administrative side of the outpatient clinics in the Dental Hospital. King’s Dental is also a teaching institution and I am extremely proud of the work that my colleagues in the clinical team do. I find immense satisfaction in constantly improving our services to match an outstanding customer service

AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST 21


“It is important to be

interested in what you would like to succeed in. You must be interested in the road that leads you to your goal. If you are thinking big, then the road will be long and it must be in some way enjoyable to you along the way. ” Alex Wallar pictured here with his wife and AISB Alumna, Jessica

Interview with

Alex Wallar

AISB Alumnus / Attended AISB from 2009 - 2011

WM: What led you to pursue a PhD? What has inspired you most?

I have been inspired the most by my wife, Jess, who has always pushed me to be the best that I can be.

AW: I really love being part of research. It is such a great feeling to create something that has never been done before. Pursuing a PhD will allow me to continue conducting research in a more structured setting and it will set me up for getting a good research job in the future.

Also, the competitiveness of research has really kept me on track. Once you start conducting research, you realize that your peer group is every professor, researcher, and PhD student in your field. You are competing and collaborating with everyone, and that really inspires me.

WM: What year did you graduate in? AW: I left AISB in 2011, graduated from George Mason High School, Virginia, USA in 2012, and from the University of St Andrews, Scotland in 2015.

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WM: Why Robotics? What interests you most about this field? AW: I like robotics because it has always clicked for me. I started doing robotics in 10th grade with Mr. Hester and Mr. O’Brien. They sponsored / coordinated the robotics club at AISB and that is when I started programming and playing around with electronics and computer science. Since then, I have competed in competitions, participated in internships, and have worked in jobs centered around robotics. I currently conduct research concerning surveillance and persistent monitoring for multi-agent systems. I know that sounds boring, but it is actually quite fun.


I create algorithms that allow robots to collaborate to gather information about the environment.

WM: Is there anyone you met at AISB who you feel contributed to your drive for success?

WM: How did your time spent at AISB help set you on this path to follow your passion and reach academic excellence?

AW: Definitely. I have so many people to thank at AISB. Particularly, I met Jess who probably contributed the most to my success, Ms. Malina, Mr. Hoggatt, Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Hester, Ms. Marcela, and Ms. Siemens. I am probably forgetting somebody. The entire AISB community was incredibly supportive and helped push me to where I am now.

AW: AISB really changed me. I did so poorly from 7th grade to 10th grade, I should not have passed. This was a turbulent time for me. My family had just moved from the US to Korea and the academic environment at the onbase high school there was horrible. It demotivated me and made me find school boring. Once I moved to AISB, I still felt this way, until Mr. Hoggatt took me under his wing. He showed me that science, technology, and mathematics could be fun and easy to learn. Once it clicked, I became more focused on my studies, ended up with Honor Roll, and won the IB Learner Profile Award.

WM: What is your fondest memory of your time at AISB? AW: There are truly too many to choose from, but if I had to pick one, it would probably the FTC robotics competition in 2011. That was a great day.

When Alex Wallar started at AISB in 10th grade, he was not the best behaved boy at all; actually his behavior and dedication to work left a lot to be desired. He was familiar with detention at school and he was also in academic supervision. It is fair to say that his first semester at AISB was rather rocky. Then, he met “the right girl,”

WM: There’s a challenging road ahead! What do you think is important in order to succeed at the highest level? AW: It is important to be interested in what you would like to succeed in. You must be interested in the road that leads you to your goal. If you are thinking big, then the road will be long and it must be in some way enjoyable to you along the way.

WM: You are from the United States. Does it feel like you are going home, or has that concept changed after all these years of studying abroad?

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO, A SUCCESS STORY OF ONE OF OUR VERY OWN! This February, one of our students was accepted to pursue his PhD in Robotics at MIT. This might seem like normal news, but if you find out the story behind this student, you will be amazed. What this alumnus has been able to achieve is the product of what all teachers at AISB do on a daily basis.

AW: There is no home. There is the place I live, the places my friends live, and the place my parents live. I don’t feel like I am going home, I feel like I am moving the United States. I have never lived in Boston so it will be a new adventure. It will be nice not to have an accent anymore in the eyes of some of the locals, though.

by Marcela Talero-Hester Grade 1 Teacher, AISB

supportive teachers, a high school counselor who cared, and an environment where he fit in. He developed a love for math and robotics and found his passion. During the two years that he spent at AISB, he flourished.

the next summer he interned at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He married his high school sweetheart in March 2014: read the piece on Jessica and Alex in the last issue of the WORLD magazine.

He then went to Saint Andrews University where in just three years he got his BSc in computer science. During his time at Saint Andrews, he presented a research paper he wrote, at a conference at Oxford University; Alex was one of the youngest presenters and he was also invited back for the following year’s conference. During his first summer at University, Alex was invited for a summer internship at Notre Dame and

For his stag party, Alex came to Bucharest and helped Mr. Dean Hester, MYP IT Teacher and Robotics Coach, during that year’s Robotics competition. While in High School, Alex was one of the students who participated in the first two Robotics competitions that AISB ran. Because he missed it and wanted to give something back to AISB, Alex also brought some of his classmates to help the AISB team out. Don’t worry,

a more traditional celebration in Lipscani followed the full day of programming! Now, at just 20 years of age, Alex has been accepted to MIT for a PhD in Robotics. Don’t worry if what I wrote above sounds a little bit personal, I asked him for his permission to share these details with you, and he was extremely happy to do so. When I told him how proud we were of him, Alex shared that this news wouldn’t have been possible without the support he got at AISB. Although this is only Alex’s story, I am amazed at what our kids can do with their lives, and at the endless possibilities that, in some way, we all help to create.

AMERIC AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST 23


Interview with

Irina Sofia Luca AISB Alumna / Class of 2007

WM: Why did you pursue a career related to medicine? IL: I always wanted to do medicine. I find the human body fascinating. Medicine also gives you the chance to experience life at its extremes and makes you appreciate how important health and life are.

wasn’t too keen on living in East London. So after my interview at Hull York - which I definitely enjoyed, I hoped I would get in. And luckily I did.

different to now, whereby you had a score based on your exam results at university and then a score based on answering 5 ‘white space’ questions.

WM: What do you currently do?

The new process has changed the ‘white space’ questions and replaced them with a written exam called the Situational Judgement Test, or SJT for short. They put the scores together and then based on how good your score was and based on what deanery you ranked, you get the deanery that accepts the score you got. Once you get the deanery, you have to rank which hospitals in that area you would like to be in and again get allocated based on scores. After that you get loads of paperwork to fill in before starting work at a hospital in the area.

IL: I am currently a Pediatric Trainee doctor at Ipswich Hospital.

WM: What university did you go to and why?

WM: What steps do you need to take in order to become a doctor in the UK?

IL: I went to Hull York Medical School. I ended up here by chance after hearing about the university from a school friend. I applied to London universities and had an interview at Queen Mary, however I didn’t really enjoy my interview and

IL: The process following graduating from a UK university is that you apply online and rank deaneries (areas) which you would like to go to. Deaneries cover areas of the UK and different hospitals. When I applied, the application was

“Medicine

gives you the chance to experience life at its extremes and makes you appreciate how important health and life are.

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Angelika Strohmayer / AISB Alumna

I graduated from AISB 5 years ago and left the school with huge hopes and dreams. I started my journey by going to my ‘home country’ of Austria to do a degree in Primary School Education. I lived in Linz for three years, and while I enjoyed the practical work of the degree, there wasn’t enough theory for me, so I decided to pursue a Masters in International Development and Education, taking me to Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. I spent way too much time in the library reading and writing; I loved what I was doing. For my dissertation, I decided it was time to go back to Romania, so I worked with an NGO that supports people experiencing homelessness and with low socio-economic status in Bucharest. I wanted to find out what it was like to live on the streets, but more importantly what learning happened there. During this time, I contacted Culture Lab at Newcastle University; an interdisciplinary research group that focuses

Creating Peer Networks Column by Angelika Strohmayer AISB Alumna / Class of 2010

on Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and together with my supervisor from the lab, we were able to analyse the data I collected in Romania. I came up with potentials and implications for designing learning among people experiencing homelessness. As I was writing up my dissertation, I applied for a spot in the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Digital Civics; an interdisciplinary research endeavour that strives to connect community education, public health, social care, privacy and trust, computer science, and local democracy and planning. So here I am 6 months later, part of a CDT working towards a PhD. The idea of the CDT is to do applied, impact-driven research. This CDT is an amazing opportunity for me to develop as a researcher and a person. It’s already opened my mind to so many new schools of thought, ideas, topics, and disciplines. Another great aspect of what I’m doing right now is that the CDT gives me

the ability to broaden not only my metaphorical, but also physical horizons by enabling me to travel, attend workshops and conferences, and meet so many amazing academics, NGOs, industry partners, etc. In fact just a few months ago, I was working on digital solutions for sexual and reproductive health in Syrian refugee settlements in Lebanon with an Egyptian academic, a Canadian industry partner, and a member of the UN at a workshop I co-led the social media campaign on, in Beirut, Lebanon. It’s crazy, and I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around all the opportunities that are thrown my way. I really hope I make the most of it. To my surprise, the paper I was encouraged to write with my supervisor was accepted to one of the world’s leading HCI conferences called CHI, which happened to be in Seoul, South Korea this year. Many of us from the lab flew to the conference and those of us who had papers accepted were able to present these in front of the leading thinkers in the field.

Such an opportunity! So what’s the plan now? I need to get on with some work, late nights at the office, and lots of reading, writing, and researching. This year, I will be doing research with youths experiencing homelessness due to their LGBT+ identity in Newcastle. I hope to design and develop technologies with them to support their peer networks for wellbeing, learning, and increased potential for activism. I have at least another three and a half years on this program, and who knows what will happen after that. So, if you had told me 5 years ago when I graduated from AISB that I would be writing an article for the WORLD Magazine on my PhD, I would not have believed you. This program has already allowed me to meet some of the most intelligent, funny, crazy, and lovely people I have ever met, and I’m very excited to see what else is going to be shoved into my path; which obstacles I can turn into opportunities.

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Interview with

Corina Cacicovschi AISB Teacher / Member of the AISB Faculty and Staff since 1994

WM: Mrs. Cacicovschi, you have been working at AISB since 1994, so you have been at the school for over 20 years. Please tell us 5 differences between then and now. CC: This is my 20th school year at AISB, and I cannot mistake it, as I started working here when Mihai, my son, was 4 months old and he just turned 20 this spring. As for differences between now and then… in 1994, when I started working for the American School of Bucharest (the name of our school back then) I was 28 years old, an optical engineer who realized that working in science research could not ensure a living, and a new mother wanting to learn about educating children. The school was so different than now, too! Small, functioning in three different campuses, everyone knew anyone in the community, more of a familystyle atmosphere. WM: What makes AISB special? How come you decided to stay at AISB for so long? CC: AISB was special for me because it allowed me to grow professionally and personally, and it allowed me to do what I always loved most: learn. Twelve years ago, the director of the school, faced with the need to hire a new math teacher locally, decided to give me the chance to prove myself in this

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position, after working for several years as a Teacher Assistant in the Elementary School and as a Secretary in the Secondary School. It turned out that teaching is my dream job, a job in which I always have to learn, to keep up with developments of the profession; a job in which I spend most of my time surrounded by young people, trying to create in my classroom an atmosphere in which students can grow while exploring the beauty of math without the fear of mistakes. WM: Tell us about 3 special moments spent at AISB you’ll never forget. CC: Moments I’ll never forget: The last math class with my first series of seniors in the Math SL class, when students came to class and asked me to prepare to share with them, in the second half of the period, something to take with them for life. I felt honored and a bit scared; I spent half an hour thinking about how I can encapsulate a lifetime of experiences into some advice that will be helpful and significant for my students. The period after my husband died, 12 years ago. I have never seen, before or after that, the whole community being so helpful and supporting of one of its members. Money, food, flowers, cards, a good

word from a long gone colleague or student; I had all the comfort that one could wish for at such a difficult time. One visit years ago, my HS Service Learning group went to a children’s hospital where we were playing with orphan babies and toddlers, shedding tears of joy as one of the toddlers made her first steps by herself under the care and guidance of one of our students. I was so proud to be accompanying a group of teenagers that knew they could make a difference in the lives of some less fortunate children. I lived that feeling so many other times through years with Middle and High School students involved in Service Learning activities. WM: Name 5 students you remember most and the reason. CC: Sabrina Sotiriu, from my first generation of tenth grade students, smart, hardworking and always so positive; I was lucky to have her as a student those days. Cosmin Ghita, enjoying every opportunity that the school had to offer; he told me he would win the CEESA High School math competition and he did. Shirin Johari, Monica de Romeo, Lara and Nora Douedari and the


other students in their generations who I worked with when they were in first grade, and again years later in their High School years. Ewa Nizalowska, who for a whole school year wrote in her notebook quotes with my sayings in class, and took them out of the context in fun ways, like “whenever I encounter negative powers I turn them into positive powers and use them to solve problems.” Student A, student B, student C, and all other students whose names I forgot, but whose handwritten thank you notes or cards I still keep and look through once in a while, when I need to remind myself why, even when feeling exhausted, I still cannot imagine myself doing anything else for a living, but teach. WM: For all these years you have been teaching Math. What impact do you think it had on the students and why? CC: Over the last 12 years, I taught MYP Mathematics in all grades between 7th and 10th grade, along with Standard Level Math in the Diploma Program. Having taught 6 different courses helps me to be a better teacher, as I am aware of what my students learned in previous years, as well as the needs they will have in math classes in years to come. Also, I believe that my engineering background is a plus, as many times I can give my students various examples of real life applications of the math they learn in school. Being one of the “old” teachers in the math department, along with other teachers that only stay in this school for a few years, brings a good balance in the department. I see myself as a team member and I do my best for my

team. WM: What about your involvement with extracurricular activities? Tell us a little about this. What are some of your favorite memories? CC: I prepared students for both High School and Middle School CEESA Math competitions. Unlike sports competitions, these are less noisy, and less dynamic. Nevertheless, when one of my students is in the final round, my blood pressure sure goes up. I thoroughly enjoy the preparation work with the team and I get easily caught in the enthusiasm displayed by young mathematicians. WM: You have two sons, one who graduated from AISB last year and one who will be finishing school at AISB soon. What do you think the value of their education at AISB has been? What is your eldest son studying and what does your younger son want to pursue? How do you feel their time at AISB has impacted their studies and their lives? CC: Last year, Mihai went to Denmark to study civil engineering. In our conversations, he many times mentions being amazed of the advantages he has over students who were not in an IB program in High School. A lot of emphasis is put on group work, the way many times projects are done in our school; students have to often complete reflections, and many of them still struggle understanding the importance of the reflection process. Overall, Mihai’s transition from High School to University was smooth, and AISB surely had a great role in preparing my son for it.

interesting approaches to learning that he is exposed to in his classes, and comparing these to what kids of his age are doing in his old school (he joined AISB two years ago). Here is just an example: his old colleagues now have to learn pages and pages of history facts from a textbook, while Mircea and the other 8th graders in our school each research about a world religion of their choice and prepare a presentation for classmates; it is incredible how much I learned from his explanations about Buddhism and Rastafarianism during our long rides to and from school. Mircea does not know yet what he wants to do after High School, and I believe it’s ok; he enjoys coming to school and to me this is the most important thing. WM: What will you be doing for the summer holiday and why? Are you doing anything special? CC: I am looking forward to having my eldest son home for the summer holiday. There are still wonderful places in Romania that we did not get to visit together yet. This summer we plan to hike in Ceahlau, a mountain area that I visited before being a mom. We still have to add a few details to our treehouse that we started building a few years ago in a village near Sinaia where my extended family has a house, so we will spend some time there, too. And we will definitely camp for a few days somewhere on the beach of the Black Sea. I don’t remember ever writing so many sentences starting with “I”. My modesty is heavily challenged.

Mircea is blossoming in our school. I can’t stop wondering about the

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My quest to understand the human mind I decided to study Psychology after a number of personal experiences that made me want to have a better understanding of the human mind: how things work biologically and what their behavioural application is. London South Bank University was the first university to offer me a place, and what convinced me was the large amount of quality research published by its students and staff. I found the quality of the teaching to be excellent, which prepared me to undertake a very difficult research project as my dissertation.

the first study in the world to look directly at a combination of Applied Behaviour Analysis (a behavioural form of therapy) and Risperidone (a neuroleptic drug). My project has already received international recognition, even before publication. I have presented it at an international conference in Galway, Ireland, and it will be presented by my supervisor at an international Behaviour Analysis conference in Kyoto, Japan. In Galway, I was the only presenter who had not yet graduated a with a Masters’ degree.

ONE-OF-A-KIND RESEARCH PROJECT My final year dissertation was titled Applied Behaviour Analysis, Risperidone and Combined Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. It took over 600 hours to complete, most of the time being spent collecting data. It is the first formal study on treatment methods in Autism run with a Romanian population, and it is also

The risk I took by undertaking a difficult project has paid off, as I received appreciation from researchers who I consistently quoted in my research. The main strengths of my project are its novelty and applicability. It strongly supports behavioural methods as solid treatment options for early intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The ethics committee of my university has evaluated

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Column by Mihai Grozavescu AISB Alumnus / Class of 2012

my project multiple times, to make sure all international ethical standards are kept, approval also being obtained from the ethics committee of the hospital from where I collected my data. I am very proud of my very first piece of serious research, and I am looking forward to more projects! IT DOESN’T END HERE I have applied to study Applied Behaviour Analysis as a Masters’ Degree at the University of Kent. This degree offers me the possibility to become a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) and the course content allows me to have enough research credits to also pursue a career in research, as well as a career in behavioural therapy private practice. My dream is to be a renowned researcher and to make a positive change in the way Intellectual Disabilities are treated, by developing existing methods and by researching new ones.


The Alumni Association has many projects that bring great value to AISB and the wider community. Some examples include this, the WORLD Magazine, and a new project that we started this year: seasonal meetings with current AISB students to prepare them for University life and academics. The annual London Reunion has now become a tradition and even before a date is set, we have alumni asking us about details. So for this year’s reunion we decided to use this constant and true interest to generate more interaction from our members. It was a simple three point plan: 1. Find a great location; 2. Start the reunion earlier to give alumni more time for each other and also to depart from the late hours of the past; and

3.

Announce everything through videos on our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/ AisbAlumniAssociation.

We started with a teaser video starring Sever Savanciuc, Class of 2011, followed by the full announcement created in a revolutionary, modern, 21st century style that featured me as the center man. Next up was a member of my graduating class, Ruxandra Micsunescu, Class of 2009, currently living in Paris and urging alumni to book

their tickets soon as they would regret not having done so! Soon to follow, Radu Zatreanu posted his video, inviting the Class of 2014 to join him for their first reunion. Needless to say, it was an effective campaign; the videos, pictures and all other posts reached over 23,000 people. The reunion itself was a complete success. Somerset House is an icon of London and we managed to secure a reservation during the weekend. As

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always, our alumni came with great energy and fantastic news. It was a special moment when we realized that our alumni are so diverse in their chosen paths: some are doctors, some are university students, some actors, others lawyers, some are IT specialists, others are working on their PhD's. Many of us reconnected with people we had not seen for years. However, the highlight of the event was seeing our newest alumni, the Class of 2014, socializing and exchanging ideas with members who were at their 10th year reunion. Our community is as strong as ever: inspired, engaged and well prepared. We have AISB to thank for that. All I can say is that I feel blessed to be a part of this community and see how everyone is willing to help further our goals as the AISB Alumni Association. A great thank you to all.

Column by Alex Cristescu

AISB Alumnus / Class of 2009

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see you in Bucharest

Check the AISB Alumns Facebook page for details about the next Alumni Reunion. We hope you can join us!

Sos. Pipera Tunari 196, Voluntari, Jud. Ilfov 077190 Romania Tel: (40 21) 204-4300 www.aisb.ro

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