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While we ran a similar article last year (“Getting to Know AISB’s Secondary School Counselors“), we thought it was important to revisit the current counseling team–especially since we lost Oddny Bakke and gained Sommer Blohm and Vera Kirsten Den Otter.

The Bite caught up with all five counselors in hopes that by providing this information, students might feel a little more comfortable visiting their offices (cause let’s be honest, we all need some extra help sometimes!).

Stephanie Finnell (Ms. Finnell), Grades 6-7

Q: Where are you from?

“I’m from the United States. I was born in Massachusetts but grew up in South Carolina.”

Q: Where have you lived?

“So far I have only lived in Massachusetts and South Carolina in the US and in Romania.”

Q: Have you always been a school counselor? What inspired you to be a school counselor?

“Being a school counselor is the only career I have ever had. I got inspired to be a school counselor because I really like to help people. I really like working with young people and I was trying to find a way to put those two passions together.”

Q: Where can students find you?

“People can email me, they can stop me in the hallway, or they can ask their teachers if they can come and chat with me.”

Q: Favorite movie, TV series, or book?

“My favorite book is called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. It’s really good and I recommend it for upper secondary students.”

Q: Favorite Hobby?

“Eating chocolate.”

Q: A piece of advice to students?

“Advice I have for students is not to be afraid to ask for help when you need it because I think at different points in our life we all need help and sometimes counselors can be that way to help. I recommend that no matter what they are going through, to always find someone to talk to.”

Michaela Young (Ms. Michaela), Grades 8-9

Q: Where are you from?

A: “I’m from Tasmania, Australia.”

Q: Where have you lived?

A: “[Romania] is the only place I have lived other than Australia.”

Q: Have you always been a school counselor? What inspired you to be a school counselor?

“No, I haven’t. I’m a clinical psychologist and I’ve worked with a range of different people. I’ve worked with children for a long time, so I really like working with kids of all ages. I heard about international school counseling and I thought it would be a cool way to live in another country but still be able to work with kids.”

Q: Where can students find you?

“My office is on the second floor in the secondary building and it’s on the left-hand side in the corridor, in between Mr. Edward’s and Ms. Bock’s classrooms.”

Q: Favorite movie, TV series, or book?

“I really like movies that are about music because I love music. There’s an Australian movie from the 1990s called Shine. It’s about a famous pianist, David Helfgott, and his abusive father, who makes him play to a level that’s too much for him… it’s just a really nice story about his journey.”

Q: Favorite hobby?

“Singing. I sing opera. I sing anything whenever I can.”

Q: A piece of advice to students?

“Things are usually not as bad as you think they are, so it’s always best to talk something out with someone or sleep on it if you have a problem. Things will 99% of the time will be better once you share your problem with someone or sometimes sleeping on a problem. The next day it doesn’t quite seem as big.”

Lindsay Kehl (Mrs. Kehl), Grades 10-12, Advisories 10.2 and 10.3

Q: Where are you from?

“Minnesota, United States.”

Q: Where have you lived?

“I lived in the US in Minnesota until about the age of 22. Then in Japan, then back in the US, then in Panama, Zambia, India and now Romania.”

Q: Have you always been a school counselor? What inspired you to be a school counselor?

“I have always known that I wanted to work in a school, but I quickly realized that even though I loved teaching, I didn’t want to be a teacher for a really long time. When I was thinking about a career, I was trying to think about a career I would like to do for a very long time. When I moved back to the US, I worked at a non-profit in a school and I helped run a mentoring program, and I really loved it. Seeing the cool things school counselors did really inspired me to become one.” 

Q: Where can students find you?

“I have moved this year. This year I’m on the second floor, where the high school lobby is, straight ahead into that middle space, to the right.”

Q: Favorite movie, TV series, or book?

A: “Anything written by Louise Erdrich is great.”

Q: Favorite hobby?

“I really like being active, so anything that involves being active like going on walks, playing tennis, or going swimming with my family.” 

Q: A piece of advice to students?

“It’s a Buddhist ideal and it says to think of yourself as the most important person or thing in the world and then laugh at yourself for everything that’s possible.”

Sommer Blohm (Mrs. Blohm), Grades 10-12, Advisories 10.1 and 10.4

Q: Where are you from?

“Originally, I’m from Upstate New York, from a town called Johnson City.”

Q: Where have you lived?

“I have lived in New York, North Carolina, Kuwait, Cairo, Beijing and now here in Bucharest.”

Q: Have you always been a school counselor? What inspired you to be a school counselor?

“I haven’t always been a school counselor. I did my undergraduate degree in health sciences but I had a concentration in counseling and that’s when I turned on to the idea; but the environment and population I was working in was not in a school. I met my husband, who is a teacher, and that’s when I said I could be a counselor in school.”

Q: Where can students find you?

“I have an open-door policy, so whenever my door is open, students can come in. I am in the counseling suite on the second floor next to Ms. Moss’s office. I am also available via email.”

Q: Favorite movie, TV series, or book?

“One of my all-time favorite movies from growing up is called Stand by Me.”

Q: Favorite hobby?

“I love anything to do with going out into the woods and nature–hiking especially. I also am a big yoga and pilates enthusiast.”

Q: A piece of advice to students?

“Be yourself. Be authentic. Don’t try to fit in. Work at self-acceptance.”

Vera Kirsten Den Otter (Ms. Vera)

Q: Where are you from?

“I am from the Southwest of the Netherlands.”

Q: Where have you lived?

“The first time abroad I went to Israel, then I went to Spain, and after, I went to Tanzania to do my research for my masters. Then we went to Thailand, then back to Tanzania and now we are here.”

Q: Have you always been a school counselor? What inspired you to be a school counselor?

“I am actually quite new; currently I am actually doing an internship. I was here last year and worked with the grade 10s to 12, to take over from another counselor that has now left, and now I’m in my final year of my masters in counseling. Before this, I did something completely different; I worked in international development. My first couple of years I worked with refugees and undocumented migrants in Thailand, and so I did a lot of advocacy, and then when we moved back to Tanzania, I continued working in a refugee-hosting area with local women, on the border with Rwanda…When I moved to Romania, we came here with a baby. In my previous work I traveled a lot (like at least 50%), and with a baby that was not easy. Because Mr. Stanley (her husband) had already been a teacher for a long time, I knew the community, [and this position opened up].

Q: Where can students find you?

“Since I am an intern, I don’t have my own office space, so I work different days with different counselors. Whenever they see me in the hallways they can stop me and talk to me or ask the other counselors if they know where I am.”

Q: Favorite movie, TV series, or book?

“My favorite movie is Amelie. It’s a French movie and it’s very creative and a long story with nice music.”

Q: Favorite hobby?

“I like to read a lot and explore. I like to walk in cities, find new places and see new things.”

Q: A piece of advice to students?

“Be happy with being yourself. Everyone is unique and I think that is everyone’s strength. Everyone is special in their own way and I think that is very cool.”


Thanks to all our counselors for taking the time to talk to us, and to Bogdan Greavu for the great photographs!