May 31, 2016: Happy Summer!



AISB Newsletter

Vol. 11.8 | May 31, 2016

In this issue: 


From the Director


From the Director: Happy Summer!

Dear Parents, Faculty and Staff

This is the final newsletter for what has turned out to be a very busy, productive and successful 2015-2016 school year. AISB has much to celebrate: the school has grown, both in numbers and in the strength of its academic and co-curricular program; the school made important steps forward with its Mission and Vision, and Strategic Planning process; our PTO did some wonderful community building; and our facility continues to improve. The summer break will provide a well-deserved opportunity to rest and recharge for an even bigger year of growth in 2016-17. And we are looking forward (with fingers crossed) to further and tangible signs of growth very early in the new year, in the form of our new swimming pools and aquatics program, improvements to classrooms and our perimeter wall, and the unveiling of our Strategic Plan.

This year AISB students achieved academically at levels above international and American national norms, and demonstrated greater than expected academic growth as measured by, for example, school-wide MAP scores; and they did it in a safe and happy learning environment. Our students continued to engage meaningfully with the broader community through an increasing variety of service learning projects.

It is also that time of year at which we bid a fond farewell to the members of our AISB community who will be moving on to new beginnings. Our graduates will be sent off triumphantly, diplomas in hand, to embark upon the next big steps in their academic and life paths. We celebrate their achievement first at the Senior Walk Through this Friday and then, more formally, at the graduation ceremony on June 9th.

We also have a number of faculty members leaving us to move on to new endeavors. We bid a fond farewell to:

  • Ben Amegatsey
  • Christina Arn
  • Mary Beth Bechtel
  • Shannon Dunn
  • Daniela Fabre
  • Ahmed Gondo
  • Dija Kounta
  • Carrie Navin
  • Anke Robertus
  • Alexis Schultz
  • Inna Sountera
  • Ayo Wilson
  • Aafke Zoutewelle

These committed educators have gone to great lengths to provide a supportive and stimulating learning environment for the students of AISB. We thank them sincerely for their service and wish them all the very best.

The Next Two Weeks
Below is a brief outline of what to expect for the last two weeks of school.

Thursday, June 2nd – The Final ES Assembly at 7:30am in the MPR

Friday, June 3rd – Grade 4-8 Invention Convention. Senior Walk Through at 2:20 finishing in the MPR with ES students singing their best wishes to the senior class.

June 6-8 – HS Exams (Exam Schedule). Regular school hours in MS and ES, with some special events you will have heard about from teachers.

Thursday, June 9th – Regular school day for ES and MS, with some special events you will have heard about from teachers. Grade 9-11 students are not required to attend school however all graduating students are expected to be at school by 8:00a.m. for a special graduation breakfast and a graduation practice. They need to arrive for the ceremony by 5:30p.m. on the evening of Thursday, June 9th.

Friday, June 10th – All students should come to school as usual on Friday. There will be final class and divisional activities, and report cards will be handed out. A short whole school assembly will begin at 11:20am, including songs and brief farewells; parents are very welcome to attend. Students will be dismissed from the assembly at 11:45.

I offer a special thank you to all our teachers, assistants, admin and support staff for the work they have done on behalf of our students this year. 

The school office will be open throughout the summer holiday from 9:00 -3:00 each day, except for public holidays.

Finally, we’re proud to point out that the majority of this edition of the newsletter is student-produced. Immediately following introductions to our 2016-17 Board, you’ll find student reporting on a wide variety of recent events at AISB. Meaningful student voice and perspective on community happenings are essential in the growth of good schools, and we thank the HS Journalism class for their efforts on behalf of the community. We hope to see more of their work in the exciting year to come.

I wish you and your family a safe, happy and relaxing summer vacation. School recommences on August 16 for the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.

See you at school!


Brad Waugh
American International School of Bamako


With AISB's pool opening next year, parents will want to be sure to add a sport-swimsuit to their child's summer clothes-shopping list.

Although there's sure to be plenty of fun involved, students will chiefly be learning in the pool. So your child will need active-recreation or sport swimsuit, rather than fashion swimwear: something comfortable that's suitable for racing, diving, paddling, lifesaving, conducting experiments, playing strategy games, or otherwise engaging in vigorous exercise.

Above all, pool-wear should be sun-safe wherever possible: check out this link to see some examples of "rashies" and other protective clothing that helps protect young people's skin from scrapes and harmful UV exposure.

There's a wide range of swimwear available these days for girls and boys, including:

  • board shorts and tops
  • "rashguard" or "rashie" tops for girls and boys, for better sun protection
  • workout swimsuits
  • water aerobics suits
  • regular one or two-piece suits (try to avoid very thin straps or around-the neck straps since these may be uncomfortable and/or impractical for exercising)
  • swim skirts
  • surfer-style "jammer" shorts and tops
  • swim unitards, long or short
  • water polo suits

We anticipate a range of swimwear solutions as diverse as our student population. An informal survey of high school girls and boys indicated that swim shorts and sun-shirts or "rashies" are the most popular option, being both practical and comfortable.

Added sun protection -- rashies or t-shirts over suits -- is encouraged wherever practical. Students may also want goggles and swim caps.

We're looking forward to an exciting year of learning in the water. If you have questions about the pool or swimgear, please don't hesitate to be in touch.

Meet AISB's 2016-17 School Board Trustees

Board Chair: Johan Andersson

Nationality: Swedish

Brief Biography

Our family arrived in Bamako from Sweden in January 2016 so we are new to both the country and the AISB community. My wife works for the Swedish Embassy and we will be here for at least two more years. We have two sons (4 and 8 years old) who both attend AISB.  

For the moment I’m not working but I have 15 years experience as a project manager and business developer for different governmental agencies in Sweden. During these 15 years I’ve lead several projects (both small and large ones) with the aim to streamline operations through process- and IT-development. I have also worked with policy development for different IT- and business development departments.


Board Vice Chair: Marie-Claude Legault

Nationality: Canadian

Brief Biography

Born in Montreal, I hold a Master’s degree in Human Relations Psychology, with a specialization in Organizational Development and Training, and have over 20 years of experience in Human Resources Management of Economy and Finance of Mali), as a Human Resources and Change Management Expert.

My family and I are settled in Bamako since August 2014 for a three-year mandate. I am the mother of 4 children, three are studying in grade 11 at AISB. Since the moment that our children started school, I always have been involved on school boards from the elementary school to high school. I also believe in community involvement and I have taken all opportunities to contribute to mine as a committed citizen, through different initiatives.


Board Secretary: Julien Bouzon

Nationality: French

Brief Biography

I grew up in France and graduated in political science. I also possess two Master's degrees in European affairs and economics. My studies took me to Paris, but also Austria (Vienna), Poland (Warsaw) and the USA (Brown University - Rhode Island). I now work as a team leader in governance and economics for the Delegation of the European Union in Bamako. Before coming here in early September 2016, I spent 3 years in Burundi and 5 years in Kenya in the same capacity. I am the proud father of 3 boys, namely Paul (2 months), George (3 years) and Bastian (7 years). Both George and Bastian go to AISB.


Board Treasurer: Wouter Dobbelaar

Nationality: Dutch

Brief Biography

I have a Master's degree in Business Administration and Strategic Management from the Erasmus University (Rotterdam, Singapore) and did my executive management program at the Essec Business School (Paris). I started my working career in 2000 at Philips Electronics where I held positions in Corporate Strategy, Quality and Business Control. In 2005, I joined Essent Energy, where I was responsible for all the staff departments. The training and development department for all our employees was part of this scope. It clearly taught me that learning is an ongoing and never ending process, but you need to guide and support it in order to gain the real benefits.

In 2008, I started my own consulting firm Lijn2. With the company we supply consultancy and interim management solutions on senior management and executive level. You quickly realize the power of continuous learning since there are no company programs anymore. Learning and development of our staff is a constant subject on the company’s agenda. Beside my work for the company, I joined SEME Distribution here in Mali, which is the exclusive distributor for Bavaria beer.


Member at Large: Birhanu Zemadim Birhanu

Nationality: Ethiopian

Brief Biography

My name is Birhanu Zemadim Birhanu, Scientist, Land and Water Management specialist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and previously a Postdoctoral research fellow at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). I am a PhD and MSc holder in Water Resources Engineering, and BSc holder in Civil Engineering. Currently I am based in Bamako, Mali living with my wife Lemlem B. Habte, and three of our children who are attending AISB. Previously I lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ethiopia and in the UK for study and work related matters.


Member at Large: Yaya Yattassaye 

Nationality: Malian

Brief Biography

I was born and raised in Mali. After getting my degree in management at the Polytechnic of Namibia in 2004, I developed my sense of entrepreneurship and have been self-employed since.  In Mali I work in the mining and construction sectors. I speak five languages (French, English, Portuguese, Bambara, Peulh). I decided to move back to Mali after 15 years abroad, and seeing the importance of English in the world, I opted to give my son the opportunity to go to school in English.


US Embassy Representative (Non-voting): Andrew Wiener

Nationality: American

Brief Biography
Andrew Wiener is a career member of the senior Foreign Service of the United States of America and a retired colonel in the US Army Reserves. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy and Army War College. Andrew has served on numerous community service boards during his career, that includes service in Germany, Belgium, Iraq, Greece, Russia, and Australia. He is married to Ioanna Toytziari and he his two children, Maria and Dimitri, who are lieutenants in the US Coast Guard.



AISB Director (Non-voting): Brad Waugh

Nationality: Canadian

Brief Biography
Brad Waugh is a native of Vancouver, Canada and came to Mali as the Director of AISB in July 2015. His work as an educator began in Canada and, since 2001, has taken him to Bolivia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal. He is a passionate teacher of mathematics, physical sciences and Theory of Knowledge, and has taught students from grade 8 through post-secondary. His previous work in school administration has included posts as a secondary school principal, whole school principal and deputy director. Brad enjoys bringing students, teachers and parents together to develop dynamic, student-centered learning communities. He and Renée Comesotti have two daughters, Ceilidhe and Kieran, both graduates of international schools and confirmed third-culture (adult) kids.




Staffing Plans for 2016-2017

We have been busy planning for the coming school year. We expect to start the year with close to 190 students; but as you know, this could easily change over the summer. Below is our staffing plan for the coming year, based on our current enrollment expectations.

Elementary Class Teachers:

PreK 2/PreK 3 – Attie Van Den Berg
PreK 4 – Laliya Ba
Kg – India Thomas
Gr. 1 – Julie Gibson
Gr. 2 – Janet Stewart
Gr. 3 – Don Johnson
Gr. 4/5 – Maggie Fezekas

Secondary School Advisors:

Gr. 6 Advisor– Véronique Mayer and Kourtney Wessels
Gr. 7 Advisor– Bill Owens
Gr. 8 Advisor–– Aiza Mbaye
Gr. 9 Advisor–– Sarah Lapidus
Gr. 10 Advisor–– Kelly Owens
Gr. 11 Advisor–– Abdel Yattara
Gr. 12 Advisor, College Counselor– Lysha Wasser

Secondary Teachers:

Grade 6 & 7 Math & Science; HS Coaching – Véronique Mayer
Grade 6 &7 English & Humanities; Grade 8 English – Bill Owens
Grade 8 Humanities and HS Yearbook – Lysha Wasser
HS English – Renée Comesotti
HS and Grade 8 Math; Computer Science – Aiza Mbaye
HS and Grade 8 Science – Sarah Lapidus
HS Humanities – Kelly Owens

Specialist Teachers:

ESOL – Kourtney Wessels
French – Ousmane Barry, Isabelle Thomazeau-Pépin & Abdel Yattara
Spanish – Lysha Wasser and Yaritza Font Suárez
Elementary Art – Laliya Ba
Secondary Art and Drama – Laura Forgie 
I.T. Director– Marcus Tanner
P.E. and Athletics/Aquatics Coordinator– Amadou Ba
Music – Yaritza Font Suárez
Learning Support – Rod Wyrick
Library – Souleymane Koné and Laura Forgie
I.T. and Library – Yaa Obeng




9th Grade Microfinance Update: Efia Sawadogo

The ninth grade class and their advisory teacher, Ms. Owens, have been working on a project throughout the year, a microfinance project. The microfinance project is a project where the ninth graders provide a small loan for people who are trying to start or improve their business. The idea is that the people that they finance will pay back the loan in one year’s time. Ms. Owens says that this project is a way for students to have more empathy for other people, know how hard life for other people is, and she also says it allows them to understand how business works in the developing world. “It gets us out into the community, and we can learn more about Mali.”

The ninth graders have been working on this project since the beginning of the year. They baked brownies and sold them at school during the month of October, getting over 50,000 CFA. They then created applications with questions about what the applicant's business plan was, how they would accomplish that, why they needed the money, and many other questions that they thought were necessary to ask. The ninth graders sent out a lot of applications and received a lot of applications back.

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AISB Dreams: Marianne Racicot

When we are kids we have dreams, and when we grow up we still have dreams. At AISB, students and teachers have incredible dreams. What do you notice in people’s AISB Dreams1responses about dreams?

Answering the question, “What is your dream?” Liam Owens, a Kindergartener answered, “I want to be an astronaut, because I can see space.”

In comparison, Mohamed Touré, a senior that is going to Linfield College next year said, “I don’t know, because my dreams always change. As a kid I wanted to do everything my dad did. I wanted to become a doctor or work in an NGO. Afterwards, I wanted to go into biology, be a researcher. Then I changed my mind and wanted to be a doctor. And now, I don’t know, I only know that I want to study biology. When I was kid it was so simple.”

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AISB's Swimming Pool Construction: Mohamed Touré

On April 7th, AISB initiated the construction of the first pool in its history. The construction is located behind the main campus and to the right of the soccer field, and will consist of a competition suitable pool (25 by 15 meters), a “beginner” pool (10 by 10 meters), changing rooms, and an office for the life guards. According to Mr. Waugh, “[the pool construction] is contracted to go to October 7th, but there are many who think that it will be ready at the start of the school year next year.” If we are lucky, our students might be bringing their swimsuits on the first day of school.

“One thing that is interesting is that this is the start of what is called Phase 2 of our construction. So this is not a new idea,” said Mr. Waugh. The pool was a part of this campus construction, and was thought up by the board members while the school was still located in Badalabougou. Phase 1 consists of the campus and the fields that we currently have. Phase 2 consists of the pool, a track around the secondary soccer field, and possibly a second story on the campus, and Phase 3 even looks into teacher housing on campus.

swimming pool1   swimming pool2

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Elementary Sports Day: Roger Indengere

ElementarySportsDay1May 12, 2016, was a great day for AISB students, especially the elementary kids who had a Field Day. Most kids loved the sports and they want the same day to come again soon. “Today is extra cool because we are having fun,” said by Amiria from first grade. Denise from fourth grade said, “It’s fun today because we worked as a team in different games.”

“It’s a good day because it’s a Field Day,” said River from second grade. Liam from Kindergarten agreed, “I like today because it’s good to play different games.” Almost everyone really liked that day.

Students and teachers were smiling and happy on Elementary Sports Day. However, there were a few kids who prefered last year’s Elementary Sports Day and a few kids didn’t really participate too much. “I think the games are cool, but I prefer those from last year,” said Loic from fifth grade. Damien from second grade said, “Today is good but everyone is tired.” The big takeaway is most kids loved the event of Elementary Sports Day and can’t wait for it to happen again.



Friday After School Soccer: Cheick Kone

Most Fridays after school, the Secondary Soccer team has a soccer match against the school staff on the AISB soccer field. This is a great way for the Secondary Soccer team FridayAfterSchoolSoccerto train with people who have more experience. These matches are organized thanks to the help of Coach Sam, Ms. Mayer, Mrs. Schultz, Mr. Adama, Mr. Baba, and the entire soccer team willing to put in time and effort to play.

These matches are a good chance for the team to practice as a whole and create a bond between each other. This is also something the students and staff can look forward to at the end of the week.

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From China to AISB: Vivian Peng's Reflection

Last year in September I entered AISB. I have learned so much. I have learned how to make Yearbook spreads and how to take good photos. FromChinatoMaliMy English has improved and I know more classmates. I read books in English class like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Romeo and Juliet. In P.E. Alexis helped me so that I understood more knowledge.

This year is a happy year. I love AISB.


Going to college: Seynabou Kane

The time has come for the seniors of AISB to go to college. They are leaving the safe nests and will fly into the big “new” world. Seniors of AISB had the chance to apply to universities all over the world in countries such as Holland, the USA and Canada. How are the kids preparing for college life? They will soon be living on their own and having other responsibilities.2015 16 graduates

Bastiaan de Nooijer feels that, “The best few years of my life are starting right now.” Mohamed added that he, “has a bunch of excited feelings to go to college.

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Koranic School Visit: Raphaela Zocklein

On May 18, 2016, the Koranic students of Sotuba, visited AISB. The idea of this event is for AISB students to learn more about the city and its cultures. “Experiential learning is more meaningful for students, but it requires a lot more work, on behalf of the teacher,” said Mrs. Kelly Owens. Through her help and the students of the AISB, it was feasible to organize the event. This event was planned after the Psychology class went on a field trip in early March to the Koranic School of Sotuba.


On the morning of May 18th, Florianne de Nooijer, Cheick B. Kone and Mrs. Owens picked up the Koranic School students and bought them on the bus to the school where the students waited for their arrival. The event took place at the sports field and classrooms from 7:30 A.M to 9:30 A.M, where the students set up games.
When the guests arrived at the school, they split up in small groups, with the students of the AISB. Some activities that took place, were dodgeball, basketball, soccer, hula hooping and small arts project for the younger students.

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Leaving AISB: Chade van de Fliert

The Seniors at AISB are graduating in less than ten days. Some have been here a year, others their entire life. Graduation is a monumental event for each of them, and this is their testimony about coming to AISB and leaving it for good.

Bastiaan’ de Nooijer’s comments come straight from the heart, “Coming to this school was one of the most exciting moments of my life. People were very welcoming, and I felt at home. Leaving this school is going to be really hard because I have so many great memories in Mali. It’s basically the best school I’ve ever been to because everyone knows each other. I’ll never forget the amazing five years that I have spent at AISB.’’

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May at AISB means AP Exams: Yannick Nelen

From the 3rd to the 20th of May, AISB students have taken AP exams. Specifically the AP Human Geography, AP Biology, AP Psychology, AP French, AP German, AP Calculus, and the AP English Language and Composition were taken. Most 10th graders took an AP exam, half of the 11th graders sat for an exam, and 10 of the 12th graders took at least one AP exam. Why are there so many more students interested in the AP exams?

“AP” stands for “advanced placement” and are courses that are taken in high school but are courses that are considered college level. Therefore, taking the class in high school can exempt you from taking it in university, on the condition of scoring high enough.

Mohamed Toure said that he took the exam because of the “academic rigour, to show universities that I’m taking the hardest classes, and that I’m capable.” This is a pretty common occurrence. Students take AP exams so that they can prove to universities that they’re capable. Looking at their score, universities can use these scores as a reflection of the student. There are also people that take AP exams because they’re required for university. I’ve taken four AP exams because they were required for universities I wanted to apply to. In the end I got accepted to a university that didn’t require any, but at first I was planning to go to the University of Maastricht or Erasmus in Rotterdam, and they did require three or four AP exams.

Melinda Loupeda stated another reason AP exams are useful, “Taking the AP exam and getting a 4 or higher would exempt me from taking the course in university.” Taking the AP exam and scoring a 3, 4 or 5, you’re possibly exempted from taking the course in university. Ultimately, the university decides what the minimum acceptable passing score is.

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Music Industry News: Bastiaan de Nooijer

Everyone enjoys music, and we all know that it takes a lot of time to make it. Many people undervalue the creative process producers go through when making music. Most underground producers make their tracks because they just love to do it, although they do not get the recognition they deserve. On the other hand, the bigger names in the music world are forced to produce a certain style of music due to the type of music that is trending. Underground producers don’t have the urge to follow latest trends, instead they make whatever comes from the heart.

Many people enjoy listening to music, but don’t truly appreciate the work put into it. According to Factory Djs, “Music is a way of expressing your inner self, and a way of exploring new possibilities and emotions.” When people listen to music, they immediately flip a switch which allows them to feel differently, depending on the type of music they are listening too. In Patrick Scullion’s opinion, “The production of music takes so much more time than the average human being expects it to take, and it is not even appreciated for its quality compared to other products.” An example of this is a Starbucks coffee costs $3 which is produced in a minute. Many people would rather buy that than help a friend out by paying $1 for their latest song, which they could have spent months working on, and lasts an eternity.

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New Kids at AISB: Moussa Diarra

Being the new kid at school is never easy. New place, new friends, new…well, everything. The trick to fitting in right away is a concept that escapes some people, but not here at AISB! New students have had next to no trouble easing into both the academic aspects of our school as well as the social scene.

new kids
Hailing from Rwanda, new student Nadine Iraguha attended Rwaza Secondary School before coming to AISB, and likes AISB because, “People are awesome. I like the students, I like the staff, and everyone is nice.” Roger Indengere, also native to Rwanda, provides a more academic evaluation of our school.

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O2 Environnement - Environmental Action: Mathilda Munstege

Malian Youth Changing the Streets of Bamako

Many associations have tried to find new ways to build Mali into a sustainable country for future generations. O2 Environnement has successfully grown to become an influential environmentalist group through social media, and has taken action to address the alarming rate of pollution in the City of Bamako. O2 Environnement is a non-profit association entirely founded by young motivated students from different fields and disciplines, who are committed to promoting and assisting the defense and preservation of the environment in Mali.

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Online Classes at AISB: Anwar Daoud

Online courses are very convenient, especially when you live in a country like Mali where access to teachers who teach a specific subject can be hard to find. AISB is a school with not a lot of people, which creates a strong community, however it also means that there are a limited amount of teachers. Sometimes we get lucky and get a teacher who has a degree in multiple subjects and is willing to teach many subjects. Other times we aren’t so lucky and may need to take an online course.

Of all of the students that have taken online courses, ZERO of them were disappointed with their classes. Quoting Idrissa, “As long as you do your work every week it’s fine, and you can get an easy A.” Bastiaan, Eline, Leena, Paul-Lou, and Alpha all said, “I would definitely [advise] people who like to study alone to take online classes.” Online courses may not be for everyone, however they have proven to be convenient for our AISB students.

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The SAT Exam - Look on the Bright Side: Paul-Lou Pepín

The SAT exam is a highly recommended test taken by high school students and used for college admissions specifically in Canada and the United States. The SATOverall, it tests your “general knowledge and to see how well you can take a test under pressure,” said Moussa Diarra. Even though there are universities that don’t necessarily ask for it, many students will be required to take it in order for you to get into the universities on their college list.

“It’s just like the AP. It isn’t necessarily required, but it’s better than not taking it. And, it’s made by the same people,” Moussa Diarra said while looking at me with an “it’s a conspiracy” facial expression.

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Watch Out-It's Dodgeball Intramurals: Nadia Loupeda

Sotramas took first place in the intramurals event on Friday, May 20th. Taxis were second, Camions were third and Motos were last. That dodgeball intramurals was the last intramural event of this school year, which made it a very intense competition.

At first, the Sotramas and the Taxis were winning everything. Eventually, their repetitive victories came to an end. On the other hand, the Camions and the Motos kept losing but that didn’t go on forever either. In the end, Sotramas won four matches, Taxis won three, Camions won two, and Motos won none.

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