ISBerne hosts Mr. Othmar Karas, a newly elected Vice-President of the European Parliament, for a unique question and answer session at Gümligen’s Bärtschihus

ISBerne welcomed Austrian politician, Mr Othmar Karas, a newly elected Vice-President of the European Parliament, to campus yesterday for a special question and answer session with IB Diploma Programme students in Grades 11 and 12.

Students prepared questions for the event, many of them quite direct, guided by their homeroom and subject teachers, Mr Tobin Bechtel, Dr Eric Mace-Tessler, Dr Kathleen Noreisch, and Mr Chris Warren. “This is what ISBerne strives to do, giving students exposure to important figures and examples of leadership,” said Secondary School Principal, Mr Bechtel.  “The questions ranged from topics like Portugal’s fiscal crisis, to the recent Nobel Peace Prize, to Switzerland’s relationship with the EU.

In his opening comments, Mr Karas noted recent EU accomplishments as well as explained the complexity of the challenges faced by the union of countries.  One of his many poignant remarks came as he described his personal belief about the importance of collaboration and dialogue in the quest to continue the 20-year work of the EU, “Nationalism, egoism and protectionism can never be the answer to solve our problems,” he said. “Only by coming together, talking together, having a better understanding, and knowing one another better, will we find common solutions.”

For nearly an hour, he graciously answered questions and reminded the students of how important their education is in this turbulent world. He also referred to his earlier meetings and dialogues with Swiss political leaders and the importance of the strong relationships and agreements between Switzerland and the EU.  Mr Karas continued after the event to participate in a political forum on the “Democratization of the European Union” organized by the Käfigturm Federal Political Forum.

The IB Diploma Programme has a rigorous curriculum that requires deep and critical thinking from its students while also challenging them to ask relevant and current questions about the world.  Yesterday’s group of nearly 50 students, are completing their final two years of study, and are part of a student body of over 250 that includes students from 40+ countries and a large number of EU nations.

The questions that students asked mark the quality of education and study required at ISBerne.  Mr Bechtel continued, “This is the type of student that excels at ISBerne – ones willing to ask questions that are not only important to them personally, and relevant to their studies, but also that allows them to deepen their understanding of the world.  Being able to dialogue with an influential member of the EU Parliament like Mr Karas, is really special and we are thankful that one of our parents helped bring him to campus.”

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