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Winner, Student Journalism Awards - What does being at an international school mean to me? - Grace Roberts

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Questions like these are loaded, never simple or straight forward. It requires you to dig down and find your truth. Think of it like an onion, you have got the layers surrounding the outside and to get to the centre, you must strip away each layer. Everything has positives and negatives, including this question so let us start going through, shall we? The British School of Brussels is the first international school I have been to, before being here I was in the military school system. Military schools are normal UK schools, but these ones are run overseas for British students like me! When I lived in Germany, I was in multiple schools of the specific system: right from the start to the end. I would be lying if I did not say I loved them, I have met so many amazing friends from being in those schools but there were a few problems. You see, when you were in one of these schools, you would move up to the next school with these same people and a few extra which can be lovely. Sometimes though, it felt like you were sort of trapped. People had these ideas and depictions of you in their heads from when you were 8 and would expect you to stay that same way. You would be expected to stay in the same friend groups, stay the same person you were when you were little but that was never going to stay constant. Friends are going to argue, people are going to change, it is just the way the world works.

The ups and downs, the highs and lows

One of my closest friends and I have been friends for over 7 years, and we were known to be the best of friends. Except for one time where we fell into a petty argument over a bow I was wearing in my hair. It was an argument that lasted almost two months, we did not utter a word to each other, but I always saw her in school, we had the same friend group too which made the situation way worse. Everyone got involved, trying to place us back together like two broken puzzle pieces. It was like people despised the change; it was unfamiliar to them. Luckily, we did work it out and became closer than ever before. But it stuck with me how much people hated the disruption, they could not cope with the change.

But coming here, it truly was a breath of fresh air.

I could be who I wanted to be without anyone knowing me prior to arriving. I could wear what I wanted; I could do my hair the way I wanted. I could be me. Of course, there were the few judgements from people as there always will be, but it was okay because I was happy and fine being me. I found a stable support system: friends who cared for me, teachers who gave me help when I needed it, a school system that strived itself on kindness and positivity. I found some of the best people that I will ever meet, some of the closest people to me no matter how far away they move.

But with every path, there is a puddle. It comes to the point where it has to end, everyone must move on. It’s sad but it’s true. Every hello has come with a goodbye. I had to say goodbye to one of my closest friends, the first person I had become friends with at school and it was painful. It always is. No one thinks about how much it hurts saying goodbye to someone until the time the tears start rolling again and the hard goodbyes are spoken. No one will ever stay in the same place forever, that’s just the reality. No matter if it’s moving to a new house, moving countries, moving continents, you will always move at least once. But when people leave, more people come, and even more bonds are made. You’ll always meet new people and new friends, more people who care for you and are happy to see you thrive.

And that’s a special thing about international schools; you’re always meeting new people. You’re free to explore new friend groups, talk to different people, make a wider range of friends without fear of losing your old friends. It’s comforting. Sometimes, people feel left behind or like they have no one but here, it’s not true. You will always have someone, maybe you don’t realise it, but you will always have someone in your corner cheering you on no matter what and it’s a nice feeling. It’s a comforting, calm, warm feeling.

So, your question was what does being in an international school mean to me and I think I might finally have an answer. For me, being in an international school is a unique experience that I’m lucky enough to go through first-hand. It opens the doors to a whole new world of cultures you might not have ever seen, languages you might never have tried, people you would never have met. It’s an opportunity I’m so happy I was given. Not everyone feels the same as I do and that’s okay. But never forget that there’s always ups and downs, highs and lows.

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Economy

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

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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

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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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