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World Mag > WM Summer 2019 Celebrating Family Connections > Celebrating - Family Connections

Celebrating - Family Connections

WM asked Teacher Alumni, Andrea Ferris and Amy O’ Rourke to tell us about their time at AISB, how it impacted them and their growing family, and about what they are doing now.
Andreea Ferris & Amy O'Rouke
Andreea Ferris & Amy O'Rouke
WM asked Teacher Alumni, Andrea Ferris and Amy O’ Rourke to tell us about their time at AISB, how it impacted them and their growing family, and about what they are doing now.

“Cakes are made from many different ingredients to create something unique, delicious and amazing. A family is a lot like a cake. Families come in all shapes and sizes. They are the people who help us feel that we belong. Families give us help, support and love... even when we are apart from them. When we are with our family, we feel like we are home.”

Not long after you asked if we would be part of this ‘family’ themed issue, we were visiting family in Vietnam, and I found myself reading this book to our son Arthur. ‘A Family is Like a Cake’ by Shona Innes. If our family was a cake then a very significant portion of our cake was made in Romania and AISB. 

I (Andrea) arrived in Bucharest in July of 2009 with a loose plan to stay for three years. The school was smaller then, there were lots of opportunities for the teachers to socialize, get to know each other and the amazing staff of AISB. It didn’t take long to feel like Romania was home.

A few years later Amy and  I met in Dublin. The first time she visited Bucharest I took her out for dinner to meet ‘some of my friends’. Amy is a shy person. Because of the close social connections we as a staff had, somehow the small dinner ballooned to a table of around 30 people all excited to meet her. She wasn’t very happy about having to meet so many new people all at once, but this was a good induction to the AISB family. A few months later we took a chance; Amy resigned from  her job as a Montessori teacher, packed up her things and moved to Bucharest. We were lucky that positions opened up and Early Childhood welcomed Amy to the team in 2011.

A Couple Emerges

We are fortunate to be living at a time where the conversation around sexuality and rights for diverse groups are opening up. In our experience of AISB (and the variety of administrators we have worked for) it has been an open, accepting institution when it comes to employees. As a professional couple it was never a question of whether we would be treated the same as others when it came to status or rights. So much so that, for the most part, we could forget that we might be considered different to any other teaching couple employed by the school.

Similarly, we never really felt the need to ‘come out’ to our students. We also never considered or discussed whether we should attempt to hide who we were: we just were and perhaps, hopefully, in just being us we were helping to demonstrate that it’s ok to be yourself. In saying that, one thing we wish we had done was to push more for implementation of visible systems to support and celebrate diversity within the student body.

We got married in New Zealand in January of 2015 and got to share the moment with some close friends from AISB who were able to travel to New Zealand for the wedding. We also had a celebration in Ireland the following June and yet again, more of our AISB friends came to celebrate with us. It’s the  best and strangest feeling when your ‘worlds’ mix together.

Two Turns to Four

“Here is one heartbeat” ….. “and here is another” is exactly how we found out we were having twins. Our reactions were very different and both out of shock as this was definitely not what we were expecting. One of us cried, the other, dissolved into uncontrollable giggling.

One of us thought about future college fees, and the other continued to giggle. We drove back to school, sat in the school car park, giggled/cried some more and then went to find our closest friends and shared our news.

The support we received from the community was amazing. Parents within the community, students, Robert (Brindley), Rosella, Ely, our friends and colleagues … everyone. There’s no better way to really feel the full force of the AISB family, than to have a cute bundle of joy to coo over … and we had two!

Driving us home from the hospital, delivering meals, groceries, gifts, baby holding, babysitting offers, help with taking the boys to the doctors, coffee, hugs, moral support, advice... the list of ways and the list of people who were there for us is humbling.

Those first few months were possibly the hardest times we have experienced thus far as new parents, and with our own families across oceans we couldn’t have asked for a better support network around us. We really appreciated all of those people who were there and we hope you know how grateful we are.

Moving on

We are now living in Vientiane, Laos and working at Vientiane International School. Leaving Bucharest and transitioning to our new home was harder than we expected. AISB was literally the place where “everybody knows your name” and we loved all the comfort that came along with that. We both feel that we ‘grew up’ there. We developed confidence and a belief in ourselves that we may not have gained elsewhere. The administrators and colleagues that we worked alongside during our time at AISB saw and encouraged both our professional and personal strengths. We have carried that growth with us in our new chapter as teachers, and as parents. We also hold those AISB students that we had the pleasure to get to know, to help nurture, and their families, close to our hearts. We always found that building trusting relationships with students and their families was the most important part of our role as teachers. AISB would not be a complete family without the support of the wider community; and for us we always felt that warmth.

Socializing and getting to know new people, a new school and a new city has taken time considering that we now have two toddlers needing our full attention. One year in, we are finding our feet and have made connections with wonderful people.

Arthur and Evan are healthy, happy and have acquired quite the celebrity status here. They already speak more Lao than either of us and seem to know more people in our local neighbourhood than we do. On weekend morning walks we often experience people on scooters slowing down to call out, “Sabaidee (hello in Lao), Arthur and Evan!” as they pass. Twins can be a sign of good fortune here so everyone we meet wants a photo, or to have a little squeeze of a chubby toddler arm or leg. We don’t know how long the Laos chapter of our lives will be just yet, or what the road ahead holds, but we will always be sure to remind the boys of their first year of life in Bucharest and the amazing people who they shared it with.…..Te Iubesc foarte mult, AISB!


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