Last Sunday, while I was doing a bit of cooking, I had good (and informative) company through the airwaves from Dean Stavridis, who was interviewed on NPR about the crisis in Ukraine.  In any week, the dean can be found in a number of different forums, starting with his own blog and Twitter feed.  He also has a new book coming out this fall.  But the real reason for this short post is to bring your attention to a column he wrote for Time.com about his transition to an academic life.  Among his other observations:  “I went from the crisp efficiency of the U.S. military to what feels like, in comparison, the free-wheeling academic carnival that is higher education.”  One year into his tenure as dean, Dean Stavridis seems to be thoroughly enjoying the “challenge of leading and mentoring young people, helping guide the trajectory of their lives in a positive direction,” despite the “startling shift” in his environment.

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This is a midweek version of one of my “what I did on my weekend” posts.

I was at Fletcher through the early evening last night, attending a farewell event for 11 high school students and one accompanying mentor teacher from Iraq.  They were in the Boston area through the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), and the organization that arranged their Boston home stays also arranged for them to have the World Peace Foundation offices as their home base.  When it came time to celebrate, I helped them arrange space and a meal at Fletcher.

My family connected itself to IYLEP in 2010, when my daughter was one of the U.S. students who, that year, participated alongside the Iraqis.  We’ve continued as a host family, and Sara, Hiba, and Hadeel, the three students we hosted this month, join our four other Iraqi friends as members of the family.  Along the way, I’ve gathered a volume of knowledge on halal butchers and restaurants in the area (as well as the rules for halal) and Iraqi tastes in food (nothing spicy, please).  We’ve figured out where some potential host/IYLEPer challenges might exist, and we search for new ways to prevent misunderstandings.  The men in my family know to announce themselves before going in the part of the house where women might be relaxing without their hijabs.  The exchange of knowledge definitely goes both ways!  And we also have fun — the beach, the Boston Harbor, the Museum of Fine Arts, two barbeques, trips to Indian/Pakistani and Italian restaurants, Chinese take-out (and many fortune cookies), three rounds of pasta, quesadillas, and quiche — all shared with our new friends.

At the farewell event last night, we started off by hearing the reflections of each of the participants.  If I had to capture the overall theme, I’d say that that they were initially VERY nervous about their home stays, but they quickly found that their fears were misplaced, and now they see the Boston area as their U.S. home.  After the speech-making, we shifted to Fletcher’s Mugar Café for a meal.  When all had eaten, the group cleared a small space and started dancing.  First, traditional Iraqi dancing.  And then…a dozen teens dancing to “Gangnam Style” and doing the “Harlem Shake.”  One of the boys pogoed around on one arm in a dazzling bit of break dancing.  Such random bits of popular culture that have been embraced by Iraqi kids!

And then the event was over, and everyone went home to pack (and for some, repack, if bags were too heavy).  We dropped them off this morning for their flight to the final phase of their stay in the U.S., when they will be in Washington, D.C.

It was such a pleasure to welcome the group and their host families to Fletcher.  They searched out the Iraqi flag in the Hall of Flags, and I pointed out to some the profile of Farah Pandith F’95 — whose work I thought might interest them — in our new Hallway of Fame.  All in all, last night and the two weeks that preceded represent one of those nice times when my work life and my home life fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.

 

Though summer reading is no more required this week than it was last week, I wanted to share some recent books by members of the Fletcher community, both faculty members and graduates.  I can’t ensure that the list is comprehensive, but with topics from brand management to grand strategy, the new publications provide a nice picture of the breadth of interests at Fletcher.

Books by faculty

Kelly Sims Gallagher, The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology

William Martel, Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need for an Effective American Foreign Policy

Robert Pfaltzgraff (with Jacquelyn K. Davis), Anticipating a Nuclear Iran

Joel Trachtman, The Future of International Law: Global Government

Jeswald Salacuse, Negotiating Life: Secrets for Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making

Jeswald Salacuse, The Three Laws of International Investment: National, Contractual, and International Frameworks for Foreign Capital

Books recently or soon-to-be published by recent graduates

Benedetta Berti, Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration

Aiyaz Husain, Mapping the End of Empire: American and British Strategic Visions in the Postwar World

Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy and Affinity

Alison Lawlor Russell, Cyber Blockades

And two others

Though this news is a little less new, I also wanted to note that MALD graduate Tara Conklin had a novel on The New York Times best seller list — The House Girl.  It debuted at #29, in fact!

Finally, a less recent graduate, Bill Richardson F’71, has published How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator.  Prof. Salacuse also wrote a review essay of the book for Negotiation Journal.  Check it out for a nice description of Ambassador Richardson’s career.

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We’ve been hearing that people want to start applying to Fletcher, and they’re asking why we don’t have an application available.  The answer is that we’re still developing our new application system, but we’re on track to make it available in August.

Most of the change that this application will bring is going to be felt by the Admissions Staff.  We’ll be reading applications online for the first time!  But we’re confident that prospective students for 2015 are going to find the new application more friendly.  Among other improvements over our old system:  it will be harder to submit an application that is missing information.  Yep, that’s right — we’re creating an application that will help you avoid errors.  At the same time as we fully intend to kick off the new application in August, we also believe that it will be worth waiting for.

Meanwhile, I’ll point you back about a month to a post in which I provided the essay questions.  Feel free to sharpen up your #2 pencil and start writing.

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In addition to all the usual degree programs, Fletcher — jointly with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy — also offers the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA).  MAHA students complete three mandatory courses at Friedman, three core electives selected from a short list of Friedman and Fletcher options, and two courses of their own choice.  At Commencement, the awarding of MAHA degrees alternates between Fletcher and Friedman.  Because the program is small and the program’s administration is based at Friedman, I don’t write about it much, but I wanted to point to an interesting article about Fazal Karim Najimi, a 2003 MAHA alum who provides his unique perspective on the political situation in Afghanistan.

 

Freed of the obligation to write term papers and exam essays, do students avoid the pen or keyboard during the summer?  No, they do not.  In fact, they create their own writing assignments.  As the semester came to a close, I asked students to send me links to their blogs.  Later, Ameya (a soon-to-be second-year student) sent around a longer list.  The following, for your reading pleasure, are links to the Fletcher student blogs I’ve now learned about.  If the writers told me the objectives for their writing, I have included their notes.  I’ve read some posts on each of the blogs and overall they include a combination of professional and personal observations.

Some of the students are actually alumni now, while others are in the summer between their first and second years of study.  The list is essentially alphabetical, until you reach the bottom.

Madeeha Ansari, writing about (among other things) writing.

Anisha Baghudana is writing about doing e-commerce stuff in Nairobi.

Erik English notes that his blog from Qorax Energy in Somaliland is “semi-work-related.”

Mark Hoover is in Burkina Faso, and provides helpful maps.  Mark had revived a blog that he started during a previous stint in Andorra.

Anna McCallie is in Amsterdam.  She writes about almost everything besides her work, which is more confidential and less blogable.

Cassandra Pagan has been writing about her delayed departure and subsequent experiences in Afghanistan.

Owen Sanderson is with Ushahidi in Nairobi.

Franziska Schwarzmann blogs about “coping with intercultural experiences and learning.”  She wrote primarily in German during her first year, but is now mixing German and English, for the benefit of her Fletcher classmates, so that they “know where I am and learn about Europe and how it feels to be back in Europe after a year in the USA.”  I especially enjoyed her end-of-year post and the video she put together about her first year at Fletcher.

Braden Weinstock told me that he is writing posts for the blog hosted by the Blakeley Foundation, which has supported his internship with a fellowship.  When I checked the front page of the Blakeley Foundation’s blog site, I realized that all the posts there are written by the Fletcher students supported by the Foundation.  Those who identified themselves are Chuck Dukmo, Manisha Basnet, Anisha, Owen Sanderson, and Heather LeMunyon.

Leon Whyte is spending the summer at the U.S. Army War College.  He said he uses the blog “to collect the writings that I have done in class, and to write about international affairs and about what it is like to be a graduate student at Fletcher.”

Two students are writing as part of their internships with the Advocacy Project in Nepal:  Katerina Canyon  and Katie Baczewski.  Ameya pointed out that Fletcher is the only school with two Advocacy Project Fellows!

One student is writing under a pen name, but was still o.k. with having his blog included in this list.  Just know that there isn’t really a student called Seth the Multicoloured Pancake.

Ameya, in his list, also pointed us back toward several favorite blogs.  Regular Admissions Blog readers have surely checked the blog of our writer Roxanne, but if you haven’t done so in a while, you’ll want to check back in.

And another student blog that was previously featured here is Shruti’s analysis of the recent election in India.

Those are the blogs I can point you toward right now.  If I hear of others, I’ll post the links.  Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy this very varied writing about students’ diverse summer experiences.

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I was asked last week whether the Admissions Blog would feature a list of recommended readings for incoming students this year.  As it happens, I wasn’t planning to gather a new list, but I’m happy to be able to point you back toward suggestions provided by our professors in previous years.  I’ve gathered all the posts, dating back to 2007, in a cleaned up Faculty Reading Lists tag.

Though no reading at all is required in the summer before you enroll, you might want to pick up a book to get your mind around upcoming coursework.  Or maybe you just want to see how many of the listed books you have already read.  Not all the suggestions are heavy — at least one of the posts includes a few fiction options.

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I was greeted this morning by an enhancement to the hallway leading from the main entrance to the Admissions Office.  When you visit Fletcher, be sure to stop by and read about the Fletcher alumni featured in this Hall (literally) of Fame.

Hall of Fame

 

About a month ago, I wondered why I would ever have written about my own weekends during past summers.  A week ago, I was reminded of the answer: with students and faculty out and about, by mid-summer, I’m starting to run short of blog topics.  So why not highlight the fun things you can do in Our Neighborhood by writing about what I actually do.

The weekend’s July 4 Independence Day holiday in the Boston area started on the 3rd and continued through the 5th.  With Hurricane Arthur working its way up the East Coast, organizers of the traditional July 4 celebration in Boston decided that moving the event forward to July 3 gave them the best chance of delivering the Boston Pops performance and fireworks display that locals and tourists would expect.  They made a good call, and managed to complete nearly all of the program before the first of the rains arrived.  Other towns postponed their celebrations to July 5, with the result that the holiday seemed to last for three days instead of one.  (Boston, with its important role in the Revolutionary War, offers plenty of activities for the 4th.)

The hurricane passed well to the east of Massachusetts.  It rained and rained on Friday, but that was pretty much the story.  We woke up on Saturday to a fantastic day.  Paul (my husband) and I were glad that our plan to visit George’s Island was looking good, so off we went to grab the ferry.  About 45 minutes after the boat pulled away from the dock, we were in a place that feels both near the city and far away.  Here’s the view of Boston from the island, with the buildings of Boston peeking between the sailboats.

view from George's Island

Though we always enjoy the ride out to the Harbor Islands, this time we were motivated by a Pretty Things Beer Tasting (Pretty Things being based in Somerville), accompanied by local music.  We quite liked “The Sea The Sea.”

On the ferry ride back to Boston, we saw plenty of other sea travelers, and also noted the last effects of the hurricane — gusty wind and choppy seas.

Ride Home

On the subway ride home, I sat across from someone who looked familiar, and who was carrying a Tufts water bottle.  Maybe a Fletcher student, but not one I know.  I’m going to try to figure it out, having passed on the opportunity to ask while we were on the train.

Sunday morning found us at our favorite beach in Revere, where the special on the seagulls’ menu was crab.  They stood on rocks, waiting for the crabs to walk by, and then grabbed their breakfast.  It’s an urban beach, but with no shortage of wildlife.

Seagulls

And that’s the first of my summer weekend reports.  In a morning conversation with Dean Stavridis yesterday, I sang the praises of the Boston Harbor Islands, and I hope all current and future students have a chance to ferry on over, as well as to visit Revere Beach, plan for a July 4 on the Esplanade, and explore the local beer and music scene.  There’s a lot to do in the Boston area and, given the compact nature of the city, a weekend can include a range of different activities.

 

Tucked into one of Fletcher’s lecture rooms for the next two weeks are mid-career students in the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP) class of 2013-2014.  They were welcomed back to campus with a dinner last night, and they’ll be in residence for two weeks, capping off a year of internet-mediated learning, punctuated by two prior residencies — here at Fletcher last summer, and in Abu Dhabi in January.  This class will graduate on Saturday, July 19.  A fresh group of students in the Class of 2014-2015 will arrive shortly thereafter.

The GMAP class is big enough to make a little noise when they’re on break, but the daily schedule is intense and we won’t see them often.  It’s still nice to know that there are students in the building.

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