I admit: It’s a little late to be wrapping up Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2009.  But when I published the most recent post, I realized that every one of the 2009ers were women.  Surely there were men in that class!  So I reached out to Zack, an Admissions pal from back in the day, and he zapped his post to me in a jiffy.  With no further ado, the final Five-Year Update from the Class of 2009, from Zack Gold.

Zack Gold

This is really a six-year update, written from Tel Aviv, where I’m a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).  My research focuses on the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, Egyptian political development, and Egyptian-Israeli-U.S. relations.  I’m also an Adjunct Fellow at the American Security Project, which recently hosted me at a conference on Eastern Mediterranean energy security in Washington.

My path to Fletcher developed at the University of Delaware.  I was an undergraduate student when the Palestinians launched the Second Intifada against Israel, during the 9/11 attacks, and in the lead up to and start of the Iraq war.  Over those years my background in Middle Eastern history and interfaith relations developed into an awareness of and interest in international affairs.

After graduating I worked in Washington for two years at Meridian International Center, where I helped administer the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program.  In between writing itineraries and booking flights, I tagged along with foreign delegations to meetings at the White House, State Department, and Pentagon.  I unselfishly escorted one visitor to see the Baltimore Orioles host the Boston Red Sox: a public diplomacy win for Red Sox Nation!

Before graduate school I wanted to gain a better understanding of the Middle East, so I spent 14 months living, working, and studying languages in Egypt and Israel, while also traveling to Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey.  My on-ground experiences over that time have informed my work ever since.

This international worldview made The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy an obvious choice.  I was extremely impressed with the individuals who made up the Fletcher community, and I took advantage of the flexibility in courses and coursework.  In classes on decision-making, statecraft, and public diplomacy, I had the opportunity to develop projects that fit my interests: writing policy briefs, op-eds, and papers; and conducting simulations on politics in Egypt and Pakistan and on the Iranian nuclear program.

I greatly enjoyed the research and writing, not all of which was ground-breaking analysis.  The Fletcher School has wisely removed the student-run blog from that time.  My most worthwhile contribution probably centered on the best place to get ice cream in the area.

In 2011, two years after earning my MALD, the uprising in Egypt brought two areas of my Fletcher studies back into focus: U.S. democratization policy (about which I wrote a seminar paper) and the Muslim Brotherhood (my thesis: “The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: Moderate Islamists, Moderate Democrats”).  I began publishing about U.S.-Egyptian relations as an independent analyst, and in May of that year I started a research term at The Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy (since renamed the Center for Middle East Policy).

My Brookings position was a dream job.  For three years I worked directly with the very scholars and practitioners whose books and articles I read at Fletcher.  I learned from their experiences and guidance, and I had access to incredible leaders and thinkers around Washington and the Middle East.  At the same time, I developed my own subject-matter expertise: looking closely at security in Sinai, where a jihadist insurgency threatens both Egypt and Israel.

In addition to work-related and research travel to the Middle East, and a number of independent publications, I had the privilege of authoring a Brookings analysis paper: “Sinai Security: Opportunities for Unlikely Cooperation Among Egypt, Israel, and Hamas.”  That paper made its way to the director of INSS, who — in time for the fifth anniversary of my Fletcher graduation — invited me continue my research under the auspices of his institute.  I’ve been here since October 2014.

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Yesterday’s post may have been my last word on Commencement for 2015, but it isn’t the last word on the lead-up to the event.  That will come from Alex who, as a continuing student, would nonetheless have been welcomed for the Dis-Orientation activities organized by the graduating class.  Dis-Orientation originated several years ago as the counter-point to the academic-year-starting Orientation program.

Shortly after the year’s last class was attended, the last final exam taken, and the last term paper handed in, it was time for “Dis-O.”  As any end of term should be celebrated, Fletcher’s time-honored Dis-Orientation is a week of fun activities, great parties, and even some light “vandalism.”

In an impressive feat of organization, students planned dozens of events spread over the week following the end of the semester; this year there were 45 activities over seven days.  These events ranged from movie screenings in Fletcher’s main auditorium, to daylong trips to the beach on Martha’s Vineyard and the battlefields of Lexington and Concord.  Athletic activities were also included, such as a softball game and a MALD vs. MIB cricket match, both of which were guaranteed to be a cultural experience for many of the players.  Of course, a couple of parties were also in order, ranging from traditional celebrations in one of Fletcher’s “color houses” (e.g., the green house, yellow house, or “Casablanca,” that several students share) to a Hawaiian luau (complete with a dunk tank, of course).  Finally, following the Tufts tradition of painting the cannon located in the center of campus, students sneakily painted it a blazing Fletcher-orange in the dark of night.  They were disappointed, however, to find it painted over by other “vandals” within hours.

Not only is Dis-O a great way to celebrate the culmination of a successful year with our friends and classmates, I find it to be a fitting representation of what exactly is special about Fletcher’s culture.  First, due to The Fletcher School’s long history, traditions like Dis-O (and even individual events within it) have turned into institutions, serving to connect Fletcher students across generations.  Second, events like these do not plan themselves, but instead are a product of a student body with impressive leadership capabilities and a tremendous commitment to their fellow classmates.  Additionally, the wide range of events demonstrates the diversity of interests across the student body, which has been a wonderful source of mind-opening experiences throughout the year.  Finally, Dis-O evinces Fletcher students’ ability to balance work and fun: I bet you would have been just as likely to find people at the cricket match discussing India’s clean energy policy as you would to find them asking what exactly a “wicket” is.

Whether traditions such as Dis-O are the cause or the result of the strong community here, I do not know.  Probably a little bit of both.  What I do know, however, is that few other schools are as tightly knit as Fletcher, and that I cannot wait to come back next semester.

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With our off-site meeting on Monday, I didn’t have time to do justice to the Commencement ceremony and I thought I’d add a few words today.  First, I should explain that the weekend is loaded with events.  On Friday night, many graduating students and alumni on campus for reunion were joined by staff and faculty for a traditional New England clam bake.  Then, on Saturday, we held “Class Day,” which is when the graduating students hear from an outside speaker, as well as an alumnus.  This year, the alum was Dr. Charles Dallara, F75, former Managing Director of the Institute of International Finance.  The invited outside speaker was Dr. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014, who also received an honorary degree from the University on Sunday.  In addition, several students received awards for scholarship and contributions to the community.

On Sunday, the spotlight and the sun shone on the graduating students.  They started the day with champagne toasts, led by classmates, and then proceeded to the all-University event, where degrees are awarded school-by-school.  The commencement address was given by Dr. Madeline Albright, U.S. Secretary of State from 1997-2001.

All of that occurred before I actually turned up on Sunday.  I arrived as graduating students were crossing over from the all-University ceremony to Blakeley Courtyard, where they would line up by degree program and then alphabetically for the procession into the tent.  This is always the perfect time for me to congratulate students — they’re all “filed” in predictable places.  After some farewells, I headed to the tent.

Dean Stavridis makes only the briefest of speeches before handing the podium to the stars of the day.  The first is the recipient of the James L. Paddock Teaching Award — Prof. Jenny Aker, F97 this year.  As an alumna, Prof. Aker was in a good position to assure all the graduates (and their parents) that they are on their way to exciting work.

Anna 1Prof. Aker was followed by the two student speakers.  Our Admissions pal, Anna McCallie, was up first.  Anna is smart and funny and gave the speech we had hoped for.  Among the themes was a tally of all that our students from Nebraska have accomplished.  This reflected some careful research — even those of us in the audience from Admissions didn’t know everything she had uncovered.

When the first student speech is amazing, it’s a bit of a nail biter as the second student ascends to the podium.  What is it like to follow such a well-received speech?  We needn’t have worried.  From the moment she kicked off her shoes (adjusting her height to the microphone, rather than the microphone to her height), Fern Gray gave a speech that was charming and touching (much wiping of eyes from the audience) and all in that lovely Trinidad and Tobago accent.Fern 1

(An aside: I first met Fern when she visited Fletcher as an applicant.  I was supposed to conduct her evaluative interview, but I ended up with a conflict and instead recruited a student, first pausing to greet Fern and explain the change in personnel.  Fern and the student had a great chat, and the rest is history.)

The graduates were called by degree program and name (thus the crafty arrangements for the procession — everyone was already where they needed to be) and Dean Stavridis closed the event by calling upon the graduates to be “dealers in hope,” as they make their way through their careers and the world.  And with that (and lunch in a separate tent), they were off!

 

The weather and the mood all cooperated for a lovely Commencement Sunday yesterday.  It is always an enjoyable event, marked by enthusiastic participants.  The Hall of Flags is already nearly emptied out, but will grow emptier through the week.  To postpone the subsequent loneliness felt by those of us who will work through the summer, the Admissions staff will be spending the day off-site, planning our summer projects and looking ahead to a new admissions cycle in the fall.  We’ll be back tomorrow (Tuesday).

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When I arrived at Fletcher this morning, I was greeted by a crowd of students eating breakfast before one of the few official events of this week leading up to graduation.  Now they’re receiving instructions outside, with further details on Sunday’s sequence of events.

Last week and this, I’ve tried to catch up with students to say goodbye.  On Sunday, I’ll see a few more, and I hope I’ll meet some family members.  It is a little sad that students with whom I had frequent contact, or who may just have been out there adding to the buzz, will no longer be part of my daily life.  But that’s how it’s supposed to happen, and they’re going on to great things.

John PerryMeanwhile, there’s another very significant goodbye in front of us.  John Curtis Perry, Henry Willard Denison Professor of Japanese Diplomacy, who has taught at Fletcher since 1980, will be delivering a farewell lecture to mark his formal retirement.  Early in my Fletcher career, my office was right near Prof. Perry’s, giving me a chance to get to know him and chat often.  I don’t see him as much these days, but we did exchange emails after students labeled him “legendarily awesome” last fall.

In anticipation of Prof. Perry’s lecture this afternoon, a first-year student, Jack, wrote a letter to honor him.  Jack wrote:

The Fletcher School stands unique among graduate programs because of its maritime studies program. Prof. John Curtis Perry is largely responsible for this program’s success and its mission to reawaken our awareness of oceanic nations’ connection — social, economic, and cultural — to the sea.  On the eve of Prof. Perry’s retirement, I wanted to offer a short reflection and thank you.

As a member of the Fletcher faculty, Prof. Perry united students in his maritime courses for thirty five years.  Recognizing Prof. Perry’s scholarship and contributions to Japanese-American relations, the Japanese government awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure.  His insistence on quality made all of his lectures shine like his eyes, with brilliant intensity.

In addition to his exceptional kindness, Prof. Perry has long personified the pursuit of wisdom.  By bringing our class out of the classroom, he reminded us of the wider world beyond Fletcher.  We took excursions to the granite piers of New Gloucester, the Boston MFA’s maritime collection, and even to the private library in his own home.  One thing I’ve learned from Prof. Perry is that the mind must be exposed to the elements.

Such learning is an active thing, requiring the energy that Prof. Perry embodies, bounding down Fletcher’s staircases, wearing blazing red Nikes with academic regalia, and occasionally injecting profanity to keep lectures interesting!

While Prof. Perry may be retiring, his students have now become teachers.  Both Prof. Toshi Yoshihara and Prof. Rocky Weitz carry on the oceanic tradition at Fletcher in their distinct ways.

It has been an honor to have joined the ranks of Prof. Perry’s maritime students.  From one pupil amidst a sea of students, friends, and colleagues, thank you Prof. Perry for your ideas, wit, and example.  Fair winds and following seas!

 

Internship map, 2015

To keep track of each other’s whereabouts, students created and populated this map with their summer internship destinations.  While not covering the complete planet, they’re certainly spread far and wide.

The biggest group will be found in Washington, DC, though they’ll be distributed across sectors, organizations, and agencies, including:

Department of Defense
Department of State (various divisions)
Catholic Relief Service
Nathan Associates
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
Middle East Institute
Delegation of the European Union, Trade Division
Save the Children International; Education/Child Protection Division
Center for Civilians in Conflict
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Internet Education Foundation, Google Policy Fellowship
Catholic Relief Services

There’s a surprising little cluster in the Bay Area (San Francisco) at:

Concur Inc., Environmental Conflict Resolution
Gap Inc., Supply Chain Division
Allison+Partners, Global China Practice

Beyond those friendly groupings (lunch, anyone?), other selected internship sites include:

United Nations and other international organizations

International Labour Organisation, Regional Decent Work Team for North Africa, Egypt
UN Women Headquarters, NY
UNRWA, Jordan
UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations, NY
UN Office of Sustainable Development, Seoul, Korea
UN Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons (UN-ACT), Bangkok, Thailand
Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines
European Parliament, EPP on Committee for Strategic Dialogue with the U.S., Brussels
International Committee of the Red Cross, Senegal

U.S. Government, outside of the U.S.

U.S. Embassy, Ouagadougou
U.S. Mission to the European Union, Foreign Commercial Service
USAID Ethiopia
USAID Maputo, Mozambique
USAID, GIS Fellow, Lima, Peru,
Department of State, Beijing

NGOs, large and small

Manos de Madres, Kigali, Rwanda, M&E internship
International Crisis Group, Beijing
Faire Collection, Otavalo, Ecuador
Center for Democratic Development, Nigeria
Accion, Bangalore
The Asia Foundation, Dili, Timor-Leste
Impact Investing, Lima, Peru
Danish Refugee Council, Turkey
China Foundation Center, Beijing
Center for Democratic Development, Ghana
Danish Demining Group, Juba, South Sudan
The Awethu Project, South Africa
Mercy Corps, DME intern, Mali
Development Innovations, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Resonate, Kigali, Rwanda
The Akanksha Foundation, AIF Fellowship, Pune, India
The Advocacy Project, Peace Fellow, Lima Peru

Private sector organizations

Johnson & Johnson, Marketing Division, Tokyo
Scholastic, NY
Ernst & Young, Chicago
A.T. Kearney, Dubai
The ASG Companies, NY

And some others that I wasn’t sure how to characterize:

NATO Defense College, Rome
Legal Aid Clinic, University of Namibia Law School
Economena Analytics, Lebanon

This is not a comprehensive list, and the information each student added to the location pins wasn’t consistent, but I hope the message is clear.  Students pursue a wide variety of internships and they may be found anywhere in the world.

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This is the first year when providing an “annotated curriculum” is a mandatory (o.k. — strongly suggested) topic for graduating student bloggers.  Here’s Diane‘s review of her four semesters in the MALD program.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Oxfam Australia, Australia
Jewish Aid Australia, Australia

World Food Programme (internship), Nepal

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (internship), New York

Fields of Study
Development Economics
International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Humanitarian policy

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Agriculture and Rural Development in Developing Countries
  • Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies
  • Econometrics
  • Law and Development
  • Quantitative Methods (1/2 credit)

In the summer before arriving at Fletcher, I made the decision to pursue studies in food security in Africa, a topic I am passionate about.  I also really wanted to strengthen my economics skills.  I arrived at Fletcher excited by the many and varied classes in areas I wanted to study.  I jumped right into it, taking a heavy load in my first semester.  After placing out of the basic economics requirement during Orientation, I was able to get my quantitative, economics, and law requirements out of the way this semester.  I enjoyed taking Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies, as this class is offered jointly by Fletcher and the Friedman School of Nutrition and it was held at the downtown campus.  It was a heavy first semester load, and I am not sure I would recommend to incoming students that they take 4.5 credits.

Semester Two

  • Development Economics: Macroeconomics Perspectives
  • Econometric Impact Evaluation for Development
  • Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
  • Strategic Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations
  • French (audited)

After practicing my French over winter break in Montreal, I came back to Fletcher for my second semester, determined to pass my language requirement.  I am pleased that I focused on it this during my first year, because I was quite stressed about the requirement, and by spring break I had passed both the written and oral exams.  I decided to try out some different classes at Fletcher, and found myself learning about technology for development, and loving the topic.  Both the marketing class and Prof. Wilson’s Microfinance class were outside of my comfort zone.  They were both probably the most interesting and practical classes I have taken at Fletcher.  My Development Economics and Impact Evaluation classes helped me complete my Development Economics requirements.  I also spent the semester applying for internships for the summer.  In the end everything came together, I finished my first year at Fletcher, and spent my summer interning with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Northern Ghana.

Summer Internship
Innovations for Poverty Action, Tamale, Ghana

I was keen to use my summer to gain more field experience, and I really wanted to work on a research project.  After taking Econometrics and Impact Evaluation in my first year, applying to IPA seemed like a natural choice.  My offer from IPA came through on the day of my last exam, right before I flew home to Australia for a couple of weeks of R&R.  I then spent about 2.5 months with IPA in Ghana.  It was great from the perspective of allowing me to further develop skills and knowledge I had gained in my first year at Fletcher.  It was also useful from the perspective that I was able to rule out impact evaluation as a future career choice.  This allowed me to refocus my second year at Fletcher in a different direction.

Semester Three

  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • Microeconomics
  • Managing Operations in Global Companies: How the World’s Best Companies Operate (1/2 credit)
  • International Economic Policy Analysis (audited)
  • Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change (Harvard Kennedy School)

I returned to Fletcher with some new goals.  I decided to go back to basics a little bit, so I took Microeconomics, which I loved, as Prof. Tanaka included a lot of very practical applications.  I also took Processes of International Negotiation, which fulfilled my DHP requirement.  I wasn’t super keen on taking this class, but I ended up really enjoying it, and continued on to make this one of my Fields of Study, fulfilling the other requirements in my last semester.  Because I had always been interested in logistics and business operations, I decided to take Managing Operations.  It was fast and furious, and I learned a lot really quickly and enjoyed the business focus.  I also decided to finally take the opportunity to cross-register at Harvard.  I really wanted to take a management or leadership class, and ended up in Exercising Leadership.  It was a great experience, as the class was all about personal leadership failures.  I enjoyed getting off the Tufts campus two days a week and exploring Harvard Square some more.  I also worked as a Research Assistant at the Feinstein Center, which was almost like taking another class, as I worked 10 hours each week on a research project.  I really enjoyed this experience; I learned some important skills and became a better researcher.

Semester Four

  • Leadership on the Line (Harvard Kennedy School January term)
  • Negotiation and Mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Engaging Human Security: Sudan and South Sudan
  • Seminar on Program Monitoring and Evaluation (Friedman School of Nutrition)

My parents came to visit over winter break, and it was great to show them a little of the country I have called home the last two years.  I left my parents a few days early, because I was enrolled to take a J-term class at Harvard.  This was a follow-on to the leadership class I took in the fall.  It was a fantastic experience, however J-term classes do cut into the first week of the Fletcher schedule, which makes it a more stressful start to the semester.  But after attending classes full time for two weeks, and a final paper, I was done, and able to take three classes the rest of the semester.  Again, I worked as a research assistant for the Feinstein Center, and served on the Admissions Committee, so I was glad to be taking a lighter course load.

I decided that, given I had finished most of my requirements and completed the economics classes I had wanted to take, I would select classes that interested me on a more personal level.  This led me to take the Israel-Palestine negotiations class.  This has definitely been the most interesting class I have taken at Fletcher.  Prof. Rouhana had a guest speaker involved in the negotiations almost every week.  We were then invited to dinners with the guest speakers, and it was a fabulous opportunity to engage in study of the conflict in a really focused way.  I also decided to take the opportunity to take a class with Prof. Mazurana and Prof. de Waal on Human Security in Sudan and South Sudan.  This was a great way to bring together a lot of what I had learned at Fletcher and also fill some gaps in my knowledge.  I also cross-registered at the Friedman School to take their M&E class.  It was fun to spend a day a week at Tufts Boston campus, particularly as the weather got nicer and I could walk through the Boston Common on my way to class.  I decided that I would work on my thesis over the summer, building on the final paper I am writing for the Sudan class, while I look for work.

As I wrap up my two years at Fletcher and begin my search for my next job, I can honestly say that the diversity of classes I have taken here has allowed me great flexibility in the type of roles I am able to apply for.  That, as well as access to other schools in the area, is why I have enjoyed the Fletcher curriculum so much.

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Last Thursday, we hosted our Admissions interns for an end-of-year lunch.  For two, it’s only farewell until September.  For three of the interns, it was a more final goodbye.  We’ll see them at Commencement, of course, but after that they are all off to do good things in the world.

This week, the pace of farewells accelerates.  When not busy having a great time with classmates, students will stop in to say goodbye.  One first-year dropped off plants that I will be plant-sitting for the summer.  Others just want to touch base before they leave.  Honestly, while I’m always proud to have played the tiniest of roles in launching students in their new careers, the dominant emotion is wistfulness.  And not only because it’s a little lonely for us staffers in the summer.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of recruiting writers for the Five-Year Updates and First-Year Alumni posts has been reconnecting with old pals.  It was so nice to correspond with Jelana and Ivette, for example — friends from when they spent lots of time in the Admissions Office.  And I recently received an invitation to an alum’s wedding in Tunisia.  That is, once students leave the campus, we can still create opportunities to remain in touch.  I can feel happy about their graduation, knowing that it isn’t the end of our contact with each other.

 

Earlier this semester, via the Social List, a PhD student who previously completed the MALD degree revived a several-year tradition wherein students reframe the title of their thesis in the form of a haiku.  Unfamiliar with this poetry form?  In its most basic, the haiku requires three lines of seven, five, and seven syllables.  Perhaps these thesis haikus (or thes-kus) don’t quite reach the pinnacle of haiku achievement, but they certainly frame the thesis topics well.  I tried not to pick among them and just harvested as many as I could off the Social List messages.

The Thesis Haikus

Thesis/haiku title: “Trends in youth political engagement during Tunisia’s democratic transition, 2010-2014″

We did it our way
And then we tried it their way
Neither really work.

Thesis/haiku title: “Culture and Women’s Rights: CEDAW Article 5(a) Implementation in West Africa”

Women get the shaft
Laws are trying to fix this
Culture makes it hard

“The New Frontier of development: how securitization and risk spreading in the microfinance industry can benefit development and the private sector”

Nervous investors
Development won’t hurt you
Try it, it’s awesome

“The 2014 Tunisian electoral system: implications of a semi-presidential system on the nascent democracy”

Tunisia has a new regime!
Lots of new rules
Awesome! Or is it?

“The Drivers of Russia’s Course: Russian Foreign Policy and Putin’s Fear of Revolution”

Putin is afraid
of color revolutions
and blames the U.S.

“The Evolution of Head of State Immunity for International Crimes”

Gotta extradite!
personal immunity?
Oh, never mind then.

“Beyond Isolation: Moving Past the Refugee Camp and Connecting to Home”

War and disaster
A mobile phone for the road
Connecting with home

“Food Security, Monoculture, and the Black Box: Impact and Causal Mechanisms of the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting, and Hillside Irrigation Program in Rwanda”

Dudes ate better food
Why do we see these results?
Probably compost

“The effect of sector-specific tax incentives on Brazilian FDI inflows”

People hate taxes.
Wait, isn’t that obvious?
Yup. That’s my capstone…

“Russia’s invasion of Crimea: effects on energy geopolitics in the Caucasus and the Central Asia”

Putin hits, EU watches
Right in the middle Ukraine falls
In the end, energy talks

“Commercializing Cassava: A Case Study of SABMiller’s South Sudan Supply Chain”

Beer is real tasty
And farmers might make mo’ cash
Oh wait, there’s a war

“Migration by Choice, Not Necessity? Shifts in the Migration and Development Discourse since 2007”

If not migrant rights,
What are you really talking about?
Cue awkward silence.

“Advocating for Security Sector Reform in the Review of Peace Operations: Strategy and Analysis for United Nations Security Sector Reform Practitioners”

Not merely bullets
Governance and ownership
Listen, Ban Ki-moon

“How to Evaluate Non-State Actors for Political and Military Partnerships in Irregular Conflicts: A Case Study of the Free Syrian Army”

Wars get ugly quick.
Something called HUMINT.
Next time, read a history book.

“The new European Commission: institutional and political capacities to relaunch the European economy.”

New leaders – new will?
Or promises don’t bind?
Merkel will decide.

“A comparative analysis of transnational criminal groups in Latin America: Mexican drug cartels and Salvadoran gangs — an overview of trends and responses”

Both are really bad
Monkey see, monkey do… eek!
Governments are slow

“Progress, Opportunity, Prosperity? A Case Study of the Digitization of a Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Mexico”

Cash money real nice
Digital road less traveled
Change is really hard

“Philippine Department Of Tourism: A Case Study Destination Branding Through “It’s More Fun In The Philippines”

Manila Thrill-ah
Islands, Beaches, FDI
And lots of traffic…

“Drivers of conflict around hydropower development in the Brazilian Amazon: from Tucurui to Tapajos”

It’s all about trust
If you screw me I screw you
As simple as that

“Navigating Nairobi: A Case Study of Digital Innovation in the Transport and Logistics Sector in Kenya”

Bus, car, bike, walk…stay?
Phone and internet, oh yay!
Twende o twende

(Twende = “let’s go” in Swahili)

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We’re almost at the end of the Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2009, especially as they have nearly reached six years since graduating.  Today’s update comes from Ivette Tarrida-Soler, who was a favorite member of the student-intern team in Admissions during her two Fletcher years.  Let’s hear what she’s been up to.

Ivette participating on panel.  Photo credit: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Ivette participating on panel.
Photo credit: Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Five years after Fletcher, I am now what you would call a “Eurocrat” – and proud of it!  I became an official of the European Union in 2011, two years after finishing my MALD at Fletcher.  Public service has always been my main objective, but I have been lucky to get experience in a variety of sectors.  So today I feel like I am only beginning what I hope will be a long career in the European institutions, serving European citizens and representing the EU on the global stage.

Before Fletcher

I grew up in Igualada, near Barcelona, but got my BA at Bryn Mawr College, a women’s liberal arts college near Philadelphia.  There are so many aspects of this experience that opened my mind to the world, that the B.A. in Political Science seems only an afterthought.  My early professional experience at the end of university was in human rights law.  During my last summer of college, I conducted research for cases related to human rights violations in Nigeria, and afterwards I worked for two years at the law firm Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., in central Philadelphia, as a paralegal for cases related to the violation of human rights during the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, and to the international financing of terrorism.

This pre-Fletcher experience opened a path into a career in “something international.”  My understanding of what that was, exactly, was very immature, and probably still is — but let’s just call it a good dose of “curiosity.”  In any case, professional experience was key to understanding what I wanted from graduate school — which is why I gave up law school for Fletcher!

At Fletcher

Being at Fletcher felt like academic luxury, and yet put me so close to practitioners from around the world.  I was able to explore various disciplines: I focused on international security and designed my own focus on energy security, but also took courses on humanitarian aid and nutrition, economics, law, and in-depth studies into Iran and China.  During the summer, I traveled to Jordan with a group of civil-military students from Tufts University and the U.S. military academies, to do research into the impacts that the Iraq war was having on that country.  I wrote my thesis on nuclear proliferation while being a research associate with the nearby Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Both in 2007 and 2008, I participated in the SIMULEX crisis management exercises organized by the International Security Studies Program.  Some of my fondest memories, however, are of the wonderful staff at the Fletcher’s Admissions Office, where I worked part-time, and of the prospective students who visited the school or contacted us with questions.

After Fletcher

After graduating from Fletcher in 2009, I moved back to Europe to do a one-year traineeship at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy.  I was part of a project that looked into the link between the exploitation of natural resources and armed conflict through Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis.  I worked alongside engineers as the rare social scientist in the team, and learned a lot about the potential uses of mapping and geo-location analysis to study and respond to conflicts, forced migration, and humanitarian emergencies.

Then I went on to work as a political risk analyst at Maplecroft, a UK consultancy, where I carried out research and analysis of political, economic, regulatory and societal events worldwide, interpreting trends and evaluating the ensuing risks and implications for businesses operating internationally.

Explosive trace detection testing in the Brussels metro, April 2014

Explosive trace detection testing in the Brussels metro, April 2014

In 2011, I became a public official of the European Union.  I first worked at the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, which looks into possible breaches of EU law around Europe and which is the only committee that directly communicates with European residents, receiving their petitions and inviting them to attend committee meetings in order to present and to discuss issues with Members of the European Parliament.  Most petitions relate to infringements of environmental laws, the right to move freely around Europe, and to violations of other fundamental rights.

Since late 2013, I have been working at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, in the Terrorism and Crisis Management Unit.  I work mostly on the European policies that aim to increase protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, and in particular on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 98/2013, which restricts the public’s access to chemical substances that can be used towards the illicit manufacturing of home-made explosives.

Brussels is, believe it or not, a wonderful city.  And it is also home to many Flectherites, so I continue to enjoy the Fletcher spirit and dynamism after all these years.

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