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What the future holds: Alumni celebrate the IB 50th anniversary in Geneva

We invited the alumni network to join us in Geneva, Switzerland on 26 October 2018 to meet with IB leadership and to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Representing IB World Schools from as far afield as Mexico to Kyrgyzstan, the event brought together IB graduates in a way that we had never done before—including alumni from the 1980s through to the class of 2018.

“My high school self could not have imagined that I would one day meet the IB Director General”—Danny Hoffman, Rockville High School, USA

The evening created a rare opportunity for graduates to meet face-to-face with our top decision-makers including Director General Dr Siva Kumari and members of the IB Board of Governors. Graduates who attended were asked to bring their ideas on what the future holds for international education and that created room for lively discussion. “My high school self could not have imagined that I would one day meet the IB Director General,” reflected Danny Hoffman, who flew in that morning to represent Rockville High School, USA’s class of 2014.

IB Director General Dr Siva Kumari spoke with graduates about their experience in IB programmes. Pictured above Siva greets Collège Du Léman International School graduate Omar Bawa.

The evening was hosted by Dr Coenraad Vrolijk, member of the IB Board of Governors and graduate of UWC Atlantic College. He introduced four alumni who told us about their careers and their vision for the future. Each had found a way to build upon the intellectual curiosity they developed as students and apply it to their work. Those included Bertha Camacho (UWC USA), Sebastian Sherif (Haut-lac International Bilingual School), Victoria Grace (St. George’s International School) and Omar Bawa (Collège Du Léman).

“The concept of being a part of an international network of individuals doesn’t really hit home until you are standing in a room full of diverse individuals from all over the world”—Alexander Holt, Parkland High School

Dr Coenraad Vrolijk (above) welcomed graduates to the celebration on behalf of the IB Board of Governors and spoke about his IB experience at UWC Atlantic College.

In photos: Alumni gather from far and wide to celebrate

If you were in Geneva, we’d love to hear your reflections in the comments. If you missed the event, tell us where you’d like to see us hold a global alumni event in the future. More photos from the event below.

Imagine a world where you didn’t need screens to get information. While studying Music Science Technology at Stanford University, DP alum Victoria Grace (above) dove into the intersection of neuroscience, and sound. She told us about how she set out to “hear how you feel” and now her company Muvik Labs is translating data streams into music in the next generation of emerging technologies to improve people’s lives.

There’s high school, there’s university and there’s your career. DP graduate Omar Bawa (above) and his brother Taha knew that even the brightest students face challenges at each step. Omar introduced us to their company Goodwall, which brings together students to grow and develop their professional interests.

“The Diploma Programme at UWC shaped my career path. It was a transformational experience, not only because of the inspiring academic programme but also because it fostered in me a sense of solidarity and commitment to our global community “—Bertha Camacho, UWC USA

Bertha Camacho (above, centre) attended UWC USA and is currently Managing Director of Skat Foundation, based in St Gallen, Switzerland. The foundation’s work is dedicated to providing safe drinking water to poor communities in emerging countries.

Addressing alumni at the event, she told us, “the Diploma Programme at UWC shaped my career path. It was a transformational experience, not only because of the inspiring academic programme but also because it fostered in me a sense of solidarity and commitment to our global community through its CAS programme. Currently, I volunteer at the UWC Swiss Association and we work hard to provide Swiss young people with a diverse socio-economic background with the opportunity to attend UWC. It will be wonderful, if we can strengthen the activities between the IB and the UWC Swiss Association, since we both are committed to support young people to have an international and transformational education.”

In the photo above, she is joined by fellow UWC USA alumnus Rodolfo Gil (above, left) and Parkland High School, North Carolina, USA alumnus Alexander Holt (above, right).

IB graduates care about improving education and IB graduate Sebastian Sherif (above) has put that to the test. Sebastian is the co-founding partner of Kognity — a company that provides intelligent textbooks available to DP schools globally. At the event, he shared their vision to radically improve learning for students worldwide.

After graduating from university, Jonaton Baginski (above, left) and Danny Hoffman (above, right) found themselves buying last-minute tickets to make the 4,000-mile leap from their home in Maryland to join the event and represent Rockville High School.

Gözde Duru (above) graduated from the TED Ankara College Foundation High School, Turkey. “It was such an honor to be a part of this event with so many successful IB alumni from all over the world,” she reflected, “what surprised me the most was how many different and diverse fields of expertise were present in the IB alumni community and at the event! I hope to get to know other alumni and a chance to build a network with them in the future.”

“While it is well explained within the IB community, the concept of being a part of an international network of individuals doesn’t really hit home until you are standing in a room full of diverse individuals from all over the world and from many different areas,” says Alexander Holt (above), a graduate of Parkland High School, USA now at Wake Forrest University. “Thanks to the alumni event, I had the opportunity to learn that the [DP] is not just an idea but an internationally shared dream of cooperation and education that has been growing continuously for five decades now … the IB really does produce generations of service-minded international citizens.”

In 1968, the first IB students had no precedent to rely upon when they sat down for the first theory of knowledge (TOK) course and no upper classmen to look to for advice when they drafted the first extended essays. This sentiment was felt strongly by alumnus Daniil Kim (above) who arrived in Geneva to represent the first IB cohort from Bishkek International School, the first IB World School in Kyrgyzstan.

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the event. We look forward to bringing the alumni network together again in the future!

Read about our 50th anniversary featured graduates to see where other students have taken their studies and careers. To learn about the IB alumni network, visit ibo.org/alumni.