by Salwa Patricia Khalil, AISB Alumni Coordinator
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Established in September 2012 as part of the American International School of Bucharest’s (AISB’s) 50th anniversary celebrations, the AISB Alumni Association (AA) has grown from strength to strength. Under the direction of AA President, Maria Tudor – AISB Alumna Class of 2005 – and her AA Executive Team, the AA has succeeded in being the touch-point for AISB Alumni interactions, building a network of highly-skilled individuals ready to work with each other and offer their support to AISB graduates and beyond.
AISB Alumni have played an active role in staying connected and growing their association. They:
– organize Alumni reunions twice a year;
– are present at AISB events, including sports activities, performances, and fundraising galas;
– publish a bi-annual magazine with a readership of over 25,000 people;
– have returned to work at AISB;
– coach AISB students in Athletics and Activities;
– support AISB high school students by hosting ‘Career Tuesdays’ talks once a month with a focus on a different career each month;
– annually invite and welcome AISB graduates into the Alumni Association with a gift to commend their hard work and introduce them to the unique group they will form part of; and
– organize fundraising events to help the greater community, most recently raising over 5,000 Euros to help a little boy with Cerebral Palsy.
All of these activities, and more, are run by the Alumni Association Executive Team and the many AISB Alumni who volunteer their time and energy to bring together these successes. Maria shares: “The Alumni WORLD magazine, for example, is a publication with more than 25,000 readers. It features interviews and columns with and by Alumni who make us proud and who have sound names in Romania and abroad. The alumni we choose to interview are either successful professionals or students at renowned universities who have great potential to positively influence the students at AISB in making decisions about their future, as well as promoting the outstanding education that our school offers.” In addition to this, the WORLD magazine also remains a fun publication that re-connects old friends and teachers who have walked the halls of the school that they are all so proud of.
Mentors are valuable contributors to success.
The opportunities for the AISB Alumni Association don’t end here. High School College and Guidance Counselor at AISB, Tim Battersby, puts it perfectly: “This is where I see the potential for a wonderful intersection between past and current AISB students. With the benefit of hindsight, further education and life experience, our alumni are beautifully positioned to engage as mentors with current students. They will listen to our alumni, probably more than to their own parents or teachers, because the alumni were once where they are now. Our alumni can relate to the AISB culture they live in, and they have thrived and moved on into their bright new futures. The example that our alumni show of how the grind of adolescence and school somehow pays off, is real and tangible.”
With an active alumni body, this year sees them more involved than ever. Patricia Khalil, also an AISB Alumna – Class of 2009 – Development and Communications Assistant at AISB, and AISB Alumni Coordinator, shares: “The relationship of AISB alumni with current students is growing; we are building an online network which will allow our current students to find value in AISB Alumni, particularly professionally. AISB Alumni are at a stage now where they can take on the role of these mentors we so fondly talk about, and offer valuable life, university, and early career advice to our budding students. Their presence is so important in inspiring our students to reach incredible heights through dedication and commitment to their work and passions. The connections that we are creating between our Alumni and current students will help build a network of young professionals who are ready to take on life after AISB. Furthermore, we are looking to extend our reach, not limiting the expertise and experiences of our alumni only to students at AISB, but also making them available to the wider community in Bucharest, and beyond, by organizing professional development opportunities through our Alumni partners.”
It is clear that the AISB Alumni have been working hard over the last few years to establish and build a strong Association. They have assumed certain responsibilities to provide added value to their stakeholders which include themselves, and very importantly their immediate and wider communities.
Taking on these responsibilities, however, is not without risk as Tim prudently adds: “Mentoring is not easy… It needs to be genuine, consistent and realistic. What our alumni can offer is: their stories of going through the university search process, the life they found beyond AISB, and their professional insight into higher education and developing a meaningful career.” Nonetheless, he ends lightly: “Establishing mentoring relationships between past and current students is a deliberate thickening of the bonds which can only benefit the wider AISB community going forward.”
Surely with their energy and seeing what they’ve achieved so far, the AISB Alumni Association will not stop here; they will continue to build these relationships with the wider local communities that they form part of in all corners of the world.
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