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2nd prize - Student Journalism Awards - What does being at an international school mean to me? - Maxime Tanghe

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The word 'international' portrays to me a harmonization in beliefs and cultures. It requires a significant amount of respect and ethicality, which should be at the utmost importance for our modernizing society. Being a student at an international school has radically changed my perspective on not only myself and my perception of humanity, but it has also directly affected the way I value and treat others. Along with it came a drastic change in my attitude, behaviour and most notably an inherent change to my moral values and principles, all caused by this fantastic exposure to a variety of cultures, morals and beliefs. 

My passionate belief and advocacy in the benefits of this exposure are due to my personal experience. My journey began as an open-minded and energetic five-year-old when I left my home city of Brussels to move to Berlin. A forever changing city filled with cultural diversity and overall respect for all different interests and perceptions. I was directly captivated by this mindset. The mindset of being open to everything and respecting everyone no matter who they are. Although I attended a traditional German school, the city already shaped me into whom I wanted to be.

At the age of ten, aside with my previous established base of “internationalism”, my “real” international school journey began. That was when I moved back to the heart of Europe and went to the European School of Brussels. This appreciation for international schools quickly surged as I became increasingly conscious of the various benefits and privileges of attending an international school, such as the inclusion of all languages and ethical backgrounds made it possible for me to appreciate cultures in the most direct and authentic manner. I was directly more intrigued to learn new languages and travel to different destinations to experience a broad range of cultures.

As a result of this advancing desire for learning new languages and cultures, I convinced my parents to let me attend the British School of Brussels. I wanted to overcome my language barrier with the large international English speaking population. Ever since I associate being an international school student with hard work, determination and eagerness to gain new skills combined with the objective of taking on new opportunities as well as set challenges.

Being part of this cosmopolitan community also has the great benefit of creating a visionary and international career path. Having the convenience of meeting so many diverse and unique pupils every day, allows building an influential network of connections which can cherish a social life. It certainly did for me, as I can enjoy the company of friends from all over the world. That makes every encounter a completely different cultural experience along with the knowledge and pleasure that it generates. Not only is there this fantastic social aspect of an international student, but there is an increased chance of entering highly ranked universities all around the world. As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Simultaneously, this network of people has the possibility of serving as a powerful tool for advancing any business or career-related matter. Hence, I associate being an international school student with excellent social life, countless opportunities and a bright future.

A quote that strongly resonates with my idea of being a student at an international school is that: “Simple exchanges can break walls down between us, for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed” -Barack Obama. The way I interpret this delightful quote to our scenario is that those regular cultural exchanges happening at an international school, unite us and eradicate inequality.

Due to the many associated privileges with being a student at an international school, I believe there is a certain sense of jealousy from outsiders. Which might be caused by the prestigious and fortunate position we are in along with a perception that we are slightly arrogant. However, most of us are deeply appreciative of this given opportunity. Including myself, I am more than grateful to be in this position and feel extremely blessed for experiencing these privileges. In my opinion, being arrogant would defeat the whole purpose of being and representing this international student image of being inclusive, culturally aware and respectful. For that reason, I believe that any student having a sense of arrogance is not part of the real image and purpose of being a student at an international school. As a result, they are most definitely a minority since most of us certainly do not have this negative mindset.

Overall, my passion for being a student at an international school is profound and almost overwhelming. That is due to the endless benefits I can think of and coming up with disadvantages is extremely hard. It has positively changed me, and it can change you too! I am convinced that integrating and embracing some of the characteristic and principles found at students of international schools can have a positive impact on everyone’s life. Therefore it is necessary to ask yourself: “How can I integrate some internationalism into my personal life?” Whether this may be to learn and experience new cultures or simply just being more open-minded. Every change in this direction will have a substantial impact on our future.

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Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

Catherine Feore

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

Reuters

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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