Another new member of our staff, Peter VanDerwater, has also been figuring out how to keep up the application-review pace. Here he describes some of his challenges.

While those of us on the admissions committee put on our warm slippers, drink exotic tea, or settle into our most comfortable chairs to help block out the world outside and focus on the important task of reading applications, life at Fletcher – and in the extended Fletcher community – goes on, enticing us (almost) to distraction.

A few recent observations while strolling through the hallways during breaks from reading:

• New Mexico Governor, and Fletcher Alumnus, Bill Richardson entered the 2008 presidential race .

• The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies brought together experts on international security, politics, religion, and social issues to assess the causes, current state, and impact of the war on terrorism and potential solutions in a two-day conference, entitled: The War on Terrorism: Where Do We Stand?

• Students gathered to celebrate African culture with food, music, theatre, and dance during Africana Night, one of the more popular cultural events of the year at Fletcher.

• The first significant “wintry mix” of the year finally started falling on the Boston area, wreaking havoc on travel plans…

• …as Fletcher students descended on Washington, D.C. en masse for the two-day career trip. With a combination of will, perseverance, and travel ingenuity, most students managed to make it there (by plane, train, or bus) and the event proved well worth the effort. This annual trip, organized by Fletcher’s Office of Career Services, consisted of panel discussions, site visits, and a student/alumni reception at the German Ambassador’s residence.

• A constant stream of guests continued to pass through our doors, including: economists, ambassadors, business leaders, filmmakers, authors, journalists, and prominent members of international organizations and NGOs. These speakers gave talks on issues including: social entrepreneurship, Romania and the EU, human trafficking, security in Northern Uganda, the nexus between private equity and development in Pakistan, and strengthening civil society in conflict areas.

So, how do I focus on the task at hand when all of this is going on around me? I haven’t quite figured out the perfect formula yet, but I’m sure it somehow involves coffee, a closed door, and soft background music. Though I must say, I have enjoyed the occasional distraction.

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