Seniors Begin to Receive Acceptances; Other College News

on Thursday, December 19, 2013

Senior News

Between our seven seniors, there are over 50 college applications being submitted for next year. If you see Ike, Ariel, Audrey, Muriel, Kibili, Angelique or Tening, please ask them how things are going. The application process can be very stressful, and they would appreciate your encouragement.

Please also join me in congratulating two of our seniors:

  • Tening sent off her application to Harrington College of Design, in Chicago Illinois, late last month and promptly received her acceptance.  She looks forward to pursing her artistic talents next year. Congratulations Tening!
  • Angelique is the first senior done with applications. She has been diligent and organized through her application process, spending countless hours working on her essays and paperwork. She also submitted her requests for transcripts and letters of recommendation well before her deadlines. Bravo Angelique!

Junior News

The juniors who took the PSAT received their scores last week and were introduced to CollegeBoard’s excellent review and college-search tools. I encourage them to take advantage of this resource.

Reminder: There is a college presentation for 11th grade students and their parents on Friday, January 10th at 3:00 in my classroom. This session will cover some important steps 11th grade students should be taking to prepare for their application process next year. I look forward to seeing you.

Ms. C. Wilson

Director's Letter

on Monday, December 16, 2013
Dear Parents,
Holidays are in the air! Students (and teachers) are all looking forward to the vacation. The last month has been busy with a number of school and community events.

The Citronella: A Cinderella Story Pantomime was a great success and fun for all those who attended. The Elementary and High school students’ artwork was on display at the art show, which took place on the same evening. Some of the work is still displayed so if you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, I hope you will see it at the final assembly on Friday. High school students have been developing good relationships with the students who they are working with in their community service projects.

High School students have their first semester exams on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The schedule is on Focus. Please remind your child of the importance of these exams and encourage them to use the time leading up to them to study.

Results will be given back to students when we return from the Winter break. Teachers will review the exams with the students and work on any common misunderstandings or misconceptions.  Exam results are one of the assessment pieces that make up the semester grade. Students will receive their semester one report cards on January 24th.  Honor roll certificates for students who perform particularly well will be distributed that week – more details to follow in the new year.

Secondary school students have an activity morning on Friday 20th. All students are expected to attend. They have signed up for a variety of extra curricular activities to help provide them with experiences outside the regular curriculum – these include activities like photography, mountain biking, making Christmas ornaments, SAT preparation and poetry reading.
We are sad to be farewelling two of our Elementary students on Friday. We wish Youssouf all the very best at his new school in Abidjan and Raymond all the best back in his home country of Ghana. Their smiling faces and kind natures will be greatly missed at AISB.

The AISB Winter Show will be held on Friday 20th from 1:00p.m until 2:30. All students will be performing to celebrate the festive season and the holidays. All parents are invited to attend. I hope to see you there.

I wish you all a very happy holiday. For those who are staying in Mali, enjoy the beautiful weather, for those who are traveling, safe travels.

I look forward to seeing you all on January 6th for the resumption of school.
Best regards,
Caroline Jacoby


The 8th grade was pleased to welcome Mr. Abdoulaye Macko a representative of TEMEDT to our class this week. TEMEDT is an organization dedicated to the abolishment of slavery in Mali. Mr. Macko talked with us about the current situation regarding slavery in the North of Mali, the challenges that continued slavery poses to Mali and Africa’s future, and what his organization is doing about it. Mr. Macko encouraged us all to spread the word about slavery, as awareness is the first step to solving the problem.

If you would like to learn more about TEMEDT visit their website or email the organization

Amanda Leavitt
MS Language Arts and Humanities Teacher

An Interview With An AISB Graduate

One of the pleasures of working in a community minded school is that our graduates so often come back to visit. Last Week Djenabou, one of last year’s graduates came back to visit. She is studying Bio-Medical Science at Kinston University in the UK. I have the following conversation with her about her new life in the UK.
DjenabouMs Jacoby: Welcome back! What are you enjoying most about university life?
This is going to sounds really weird, but being independent and cooking, cleaning and doing laundry for myself.

Ms Jacoby: What is the most surprising thing about your new life?
How big the student population is – there are SO many people.

Ms Jacoby: If you were asked to make three suggestions to our current seniors, what would they be?
  1. Learn how to cook, clean and do laundry!
  2. Be motivated  - no one will wake you up to get you to your classes. 
  3. Be organized. You need to manage your time and money – otherwise you will run out of both!

Ms Jacoby: How is the academic work?
There is about the same amount of work as I had in grade 12. I am coping with it fine. Time management is really important because you are often are given assignments that are not due for a month. You have to start working on them when you get them and not leave them until the last minute.

Ms Jacoby: Have you felt homesick?

Yes! However, I am lucky, I have an aunt who lives close to the university so when I am missing my family I go to her house. She makes me Guinean food and I am in a family environment. Also I Skype and next with my family and friends a lot. This is really important to stay connected. Also I brought one treasure from home. This has really helped. When I am missing home I look at that and it makes me feel better.
Ms Jacoby: How easy is it to make friends?
Very easy. Everyone is very open and friendly. All you have to do is go up to them and introduce yourself  and they are very happy to talk. Make sure you do this.

Ms Jacoby:  Have you joined any university clubs or groups?
I have joined the students' union. This is like Student Council. We do charity work with elderly people in the local community, baby sitting etc. We run events and fund raisers. It has been another good way to meet people.

Ms Jacoby: Do you have a job?
Not yet. I have done a little bit of work with an events company working in advertising and organizing events. When I go back I plan to get a job. Through university notice boards you can get jobs in local or university shops.

Ms Jacoby: What is it like living in the UK?
People are friendly, but everyone thinks I am American or Canadian. No one can pronounce my name correctly so I just tell them to call me “Gen”.  It is really annoying having to try and explain where I am from, where I went to school and that I am not American/Canadian. I try and keep it simple and tell them that I am from Africa! It is cool that I graduated from an international school. Not many other people did.

Con Artists Targeting International School Foiled

It’s the kind of thing that only happens to other people in faraway places, like losing your passport while on vacation, getting sick without health insurance, or being audited by the tax collector. Yet the Internet has made identity theft an everyday issue, and this past November brought that lesson to the American International School of Bamako.

The lesson began on a Tuesday morning after Thanksgiving break, when director Caroline Jacoby opened her email to find a quizzical inquiry from her business manager: Why had she asked to have a large sum of money transferred to a bank in Singapore?
The con artists got straight to the point with their first email to the financial managers.

In the ensuing conversations it quickly emerged that unknown parties had hacked into Jacoby’s email and sent the request to AISB’s financial managers in the United States, along with another to wire a substantial amount to an account in Italy. Examination of Jacoby’s email showed that her account had been accessed from Malaysia and the UK in the days preceding the attack. The attackers had created a filter to delete messages sent from the financial management group, thereby controlling correspondence between them for a short time.

To prevent the financial managers from emailing Jacoby to inquire about the transfer, the con men added a filter to her email account that deleted all emails from the managers.

Malware, or viruses designed to surreptitiously collect sensitive and private information, is often the way that hackers gain control of financial accounts. In AISB’s case, the perpetrators were closer to con men trying to fool the school’s financial managers into transferring funds. Their plan hinged on their ability to steal passwords to online accounts, a task that has become worryingly easy in recent years. Computer news blog ArsTechnica recently commissioned three security experts to crack a set of 16,000 encrypted passwords, which they did with 90% success. It’s a feat made possible by the widespread availability of inexpensive but powerful graphics cards and special-purpose software that can guess billions of combinations per second. Once a criminal cracks a password, they have access to all of a user’s information at that site - but also at any other site where the victim has used the same password. This is why the litany of computer news articles about password databases being stolen is of concern. Users’ accounts at unrelated sites could be affected, they often do not receive notification that their account has been compromised, and they do not often change their passwords, leaving a long time in which criminals can decode encrypted credentials.

This particular con had technological roots, but it also counted on the human element. The forged documents were meant to convince an authorized person that the transactions were legitimate. The con men also used disapproving language and complaints to try to pressure the financial managers into releasing the funds.
Being Difficult
When the financial managers got suspicious, they were pressured by the scammers.

The con also failed because of that human factor. Once the criminals had gained access to Jacoby’s account, they put forward a less-than-convincing impersonation of her involving uncharacteristically large transfers of money and non-native English language. AISB had already established a pattern of activity and transfer request procedure that alerted the managers to the attempted fraud when it wasn’t followed correctly. Jacoby and the financial team determined that no unauthorized funds had been released, and AISB’s tech department did a thorough audit of the computers and accounts of their administrative and financial staff to root out any further unauthorized access. They discovered that the breach had occurred in a very short window over the long weekend, and that the con men never had direct access to the bank accounts or the computers of the financial managers or school officials.

In the end, the only thing the school lost was the time spent sorting out the confusion and reviewing security procedures. The episode serves as a reminder of the best practices that computer users - no matter how small a target they think they are - need to follow:
  • Choosing a complex password not based on words found in the dictionary, with number and symbols thrown in
  • Changing passwords regularly, to give hackers less time to decrypt them
  • Always using antivirus software to prevent the installation of malware that can monitor your keystrokes and online activity
  • Using two-factor authentication, whether through requiring a code delivered through SMS to log in to email, or requiring a phone call to release non-routine money transfers
  • Approaching online communication with a healthy dose of skepticism
Yet the mystery of the perpetrators remains. While the breaches occurred from computers in Malaysia and the UK, in the week prior to them, Jacoby’s secretary received an odd inquiry from a man with an African accent claiming to work for Petronas (the Malaysian national oil company) in neighboring Mauritania. He wanted to send his three children to school at AISB, and could the school please provide its bank account information right away so he could deposit the tuition money before his children had even been accepted? The skeptical secretary demurred, and the parent was never heard from again. It seemed that while AISB had been targeted through the global, anonymous medium of the Internet, the perpetrators’ roots may have been more local than first thought.

Employee of the Month – December 2013



Jacob was nominated by members of the AISB community for the following:
  • The great job he does cleaning the art room – one of the messiest rooms in the school!
  • The extra work he did reorganizing the PE storeroom.
  • Making an effort to improve his work by acting on feedback.

Mathematician of the month

Charles Babbage 


He was born in London on the 26th of December 1791 (Moussa)Did you know that...


  • He was the son of Benjamin Babbage and Betsy Plumleigh Babbage (Jonathan)
  • His father was a banking partner of the Praids who owned the Bitton Estate in Teignmouth. Around 1808  the family moved into the old Rowdens House, located in East-Teignmouth, and his father became a warden of the nearby church of Saint Michael. Because his father was a rich man he received instruction from several elite schools and teachers during his elementary education  (Jonathan)
  • He studied contemporary mathematics at the university of Cambridge (Moussa)
  • When he arrived at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1810 he was seriously disappointed at their math programs (Jonathan)
  • With a group of friends he formed an Analytical Society (Jonathan)
  • This society was critical towards the work of other mathematicians on the subject of calculus (Cheick)
  • Although he was the best mathematician at Peterhouse in Cambridge he graduated in 1812 without honors (Jonathan)
  • After graduation he taught calculus at the Royal Institution (Cheick)
  • Later in 1814 he received an honorary degree without being examined again (Jonathan)
  • In the same year he was married to Georgiana Whitmore at Saint Michael’s Church in Devon. They had 8 children, but only 4 survived childhood (Melissa)
  • His father, his wife and one of his sons all died in 1827 (Jonathan)
  • He was a mathematician, philosopher, inventor and a mechanical engineer (Moussa)
  • He disliked untidiness and imprecision, he was very capable with logarithmic tables and inspired by an existing work by Schickard, Pascal and Leibniz. Because of the very high error rate in mathematical calculations, he planned on doing these calculations mechanically, so removing the human error factor (Jonathan)
  • In the 1820’s he worked on this ‘Difference Engine’, a six-wheeled model, which could perform mathematical calculations (Melissa)
  • It could compute simple calculations like multiplication and addition, but could also create tables of polynomial functions up to the 7th degree. This machine was never completed to the extent he had intended (Cheick)
  • He presented this paper to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1822. The society approved the paper and the government granted him ₤1500 to construct the machine. He converted one of the rooms in his house to a workshop and hired Joseph Clement to oversee the construction. Every part had to be formed by hand using custom machine tools, also designed by Babbage (Jonathan)
  • He worked on an ‘Analytical Engine’, a device that could perform any arithmetical calculation (Melissa)
  • This second and more powerful machine was also never completed. It was much more reliable than Blaise Pascal’s crude calculator built in 1642 (Cheick)
  • In 1822 he wrote about this in a letter to Sir Davy (Jonathan)
  • He is mostly remembered for these engines, because they used the concept of programmable computing. While teaching mathematics he studied political economy, which later became his main occupation (Moussa)
  • His tours of industry to better understand manufacturing processes inspired him to publish 'Babbage cartoonOn the Economy of Machinery and Manufacture’ in 1832 (Jonathan)
  • He presented ‘The Babbage Principle’, which pointed out the economical advantages available with more careful division of labor. It describes how labor costs can be cut by assigning only high skill labor to high cost workers. This idea was already known in 1815 by the work of Melchiorre Gioia, but the term was introduced in 1974 by Harry Braverman (Moussa)
  • This idea is fundamental to Marxist theory of capitalist socio-economic development (Angelique)
  • This was the first publication in the field which we now call Operations Research (Jonathan)
  • In 1833 Ada Augusta Lovelace met him and became fascinated by him and his engines. She became a very competent mathematician, which was very unusual during that time. She also translated a paper on the engines written by General Menabrea, who later became Prime minister of Italy. Supervised by Babbage these became the best description of his engines. She has become known as the world’s first programmer (Angelique)
  • He also constructed a dynamo motor car and invented the pilot (cow-catcher) (Melissa)
  • This is the metal frame attached to the front of locomotives that clears the tracks of obstacles in 1838 (Jonathan)
  • He was a leading figure in London society, his glorious Saturday evening soirees were attended by 200-300 people and were considered a meeting place for Europe’s liberal intelligence (Angelique)
  • He died in his home on the 18th of October 1871. At this time the prototypes of his computers were still incomplete. After his death his unfinished machines were assembled by his son Henry Prevost Babbage (Moussa)
  • He is often referred to as the ‘Father of the Computer’. The Charles Babbage Foundation took his name to honor his intellectual contributions and their relation to modern computers. Only in 1991 for the bicentenary of his birth, a working version of his second engine was finally manufactured by the Science Museum in London. A second version of this engine can be seen in the Computer history Museum in Mountain View, California. Many of his analytical engines were never built, this brilliant mathematician was really far ahead of his time (Angelique)
  • His brain is on display in London’s science museum (Moussa)Freefeast charles

Community Project at AISB Sadiola

By Mela OBrien

It all started with a comment.   Almost two years ago a couple of students noticed that the Malian preschool children who share our Balls for creche play yard had no balls or jump ropes, while AISB students had more pieces of equipment than students.  These students asked if we could do something to raise money and buy some balls for the Malian preschool.
We began to make plans, but political issues in Mali took us away from Sadiola for eight months.   After our return it took us some time to pick up the threads of where we had left off.  But, finally we got back to our project and made bracelets using red, yellow and green beads, the colors of the Malian flag.  Students sold the bracelets to the expat community, and raised over 30,000 CFA.  We then took the money and were able to purchase balls, jump ropes, and even some pencils and paper for the preschool.
The Malian preschool teachers were grateful for our efforts.  Students are already talking about possibilities for a new project.

AISB Art Show

The art show was a blast!
The students have put in a lot of hours into their art work this semester and have created some great works of art! This year’s art show samples ceramics, cardboard architecture, printmaking, drawing, painting, bogolan, and origami.  The high school three dimensional class created ceramics masks or busts and ‘treasure’ boxes. Their painting of these pieces was fantastic, as well! They also displayed their cardboard models for the houses they designed. These houses took a lot of meticulous hours of calculating measurements, cutting and constructing. Each has a removable roof, as well, so the interior can be enjoyed. Some even have spiral staircases and landscaping.
The elementary students also worked with clay and created paint pots. They were all very proud of their work! This year’s bogolan projects turned out super with each student writing a short Haikou to illustrate.  Each student was able to express what was important to them and find a symbol to match.

Thanks to all the students who worked so hard on their artwork and to the high school 3D class for your good work displaying the pieces for the art show.  Well done all!
Suzanne Anderson
Art Teacher

December is a time for giving!


December is a time for giving and we would like you all to get into the spirit. The PTO is organizing a “present” collection for children in orphanages.   If you would like to contribute, please have your child drop of a gift off at the office with Ms. Oumou.

Gifts can be big or small, new or old (but in good condition), fancy or plane.  We are only accepting gifts – no cash please – until December 18.  

If you have any questions, please contact me at or Munni at 

Hosting Students From AISB Sadiola

Earlier in the month two grade 7 students from AISB’s satellite school in Sadiola came to join our school for two days and three nights. The Sadiola campus has 11 students in a multi-age class from grade 1-7 so coming to AISB Bamako was a very different for Matt and Zelmarie. Below are their accounts and well as those of Nego and Iria who hosted our visitors.

Bamako Reflection by Matt

This week I went to Bamako. I was a little nervous at first because I had not met anyone there, and I 20131204 063737wondered how I would be treated. But all my nerves were eased as soon as I met Nego and his mother. I knew I was in good care. When I first saw the school it was smaller than I expected, but still bigger than Sadiola school. Also it felt different because I had to move from class to class. On my last night there we had a big dinner and invited Ms Jacoby, Ms Leavitt, Mr Brown and Zelmaire and her mom. I enjoyed Bamako.


Bamako Reflection by Zel

The trip I went on December 2nd was an amazing adventure. The AISB is an awesome school with very friendly people. It’s a larger school with many classrooms and many teachers. The student I was staying with is Iria. She is a loving girl and I stayed with her sister, Laura, too. I stayed at their beautiful house for four days. The PE is very fun. When we were there we were doing cross-country. We ran around the school three times and it is a very big school. For the first time in my life I got to use a locker. They are really tall lockers, but really thin. Ping pong and fusball are two very popular activities in the AISB. The cafeteria is really nice and Iria and Zel he lady that serves the food is really kind. I had lots of fun visiting the camel farm and learning all about camels; like all the females follow the males and that they feel like hard rugs. I also had fun visiting the Bamako zoo where I got attacked by a lion cub, and I saw very pretty birds and fish. All the teachers were very nice. I hope I can come visit again someday. It was amazing.


A Host’s Reflection, by Nego Matsinhe

My name is Abed-Nego. I have hosted Matt. I had a great time hosting Matt and having a good time with him on his stay with my20131205 062738 family and I. I enjoyed spending time with Matt and going to school with him. The best time with Matt is when I got to know more about him and to hear about his experience in Sadiola and in school there. Matt has been an awesome person to host here in Bamako and hope to see him soon or also come there soon and spend some more time with him.

Hosting Zel, by Iria Matos
Hosting Zel was a pleasure from the first day I started talking by email I had a really good impression, she was very nice. It was very fun to host her since we were actually able to spend some time with each other and have an enjoyable time. We swam, played ping-pong with Matt and Nego. We also went to the national park with Zel’s mother and when we were there Zel almost got attacked by a baby tiger, and she wasn’t scared at all.
Iria and Zel
This was the first time to host someone from another school that I didn’t know and it was a pleasant experience, but I was also a little bit nervous… what if my guest would get bored or didn’t like the food. That wasn’t the case with Zel because she never got bored; she always had something to do even when I had to do my homework.

Dear Parents

on Thursday, December 12, 2013
Dear Parents,

It is hard to believe that there is just over three weeks until winter vacation. As you will see from the important dates listed in this newsletter, there are many events taking place between now and then.

High School students should be preparing for their semester one exams that are taking place in the week before the break. The schedule is included here. Students will receive their results when they return from the break and first semester report cards will be sent home on 24th January.

There will be a whole school assembly on Friday 20th, beginning at 1:00. All parents are invited. The Winter Show is a time of celebration, not just for Christmas, which many of our community celebrate, but for other celebrations and of course holidays! Most students will be performing in the show.

AISB is committed to teaching the whole child. As well as helping students develop academically, we also stress social, emotional and physical development. Habits that your child develops now, will influence their lives and their health. Please model and encourage good eating and exercise habits for your child(ren). I recently read the following article on the BC website and thought you would be interested in it.